Why did these sophomores create a website you had to hack into? It was for the National History Day competition (NHD).
Five high schoolers – including Zhang, Mo, Rogawski and freshmen Heloise Schep and Jackson Margolis – competed in the NHD county competition on March 4 at Inderkum High School.
And all five earned a placing of Champion, qualifying them for a spot in the state competition beginning on Saturday, May 6, at William Jessup University in Rocklin.
NHD is a competition in which students from across the nation explain important historical events.
The contest requires participants to create a project in the form of a video, exhibit, website, performance or paper that demonstrates a theme (This year’s was “Take a Stand!”).
Students can work individually or in groups. Over 500,000 middle and high schoolers are expected to compete this year, but this is the first time SCDS high schoolers have participated.
Two years ago, Chris Kuipers, middle-school history teacher and project facilitator, introduced the competition to the eighth grade.
“I was looking for a way to innovate my eighth-grade curriculum,” Kuipers said.
“As I considered a variety of options, I kept coming back to the NHD program. I liked that it was a pre-existing program with its own rules, (so) I wouldn’t have to create something from scratch.
“I also loved that NHD offered a competitive aspect. I was excited to offer my students an opportunity to conduct research and showcase it to (an) authentic audience beyond the school.”
Kuipers’s project was popular among his students, many of whom wanted to compete again in 2016. However, Kuipers said he didn’t have the time to include high schoolers last year.
This year, with both ninth and tenth graders wanting to participate, Kuipers agreed to support any high-school student who wanted to enter.
And Zhang was one of these.
“In eighth grade, I did a documentary on Julia Child, and I made it to the state competition,” Zhang said. “The whole experience was really fun, and I learned a lot, not only about my topic, but also about researching and presenting information.”
Zhang teamed up with Mo and Rogawski to create a website about Edward Snowden, a former U.S. government employee who leaked information to the press about the National Security Administration’s surveillance programs.
“When we started the project, the ‘Snowden’ movie had just been released,” Zhang said. “There are mixed opinions on him, but we tried to create a balanced and historical website with information from both sides.”