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History Day
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Putting your Project Together

So now what? You've conducted all of this research and written your thesis statement now it is time to create your project!

Here are some helpful hints and suggestions for each of the project categories.

Specific tips for each type of project:

Exhibits- Components for consideration:

  • Layout- does the order or flow of the exhibit make sense? Use the shape and size of the exhibit to tell an effective story.
  • Spacing- When an exhibit is designed, think about both the positive AND negative space. Are the labels and pictures spaced out evenly or in a way that is attractive and easy to look at.
  • Cutting tools- Making clean cuts on text and images is an easy way to clean up an exhibit!
  • Adhesives- Adhesive choices can affect the longevity of exhibits. Regular glue can leave labels looking lumpy. Double-sided tape can be a great alternative. Velcro is great because of the flexibility of the design.
  • Font Size- It doesnít matter how great an exhibit is unless you can read the text. When an exhibit is on display, can anyone easily read the text at the top? Font size can help with titles. The exhibit title should be the largest. Subtitles should be smaller and labels should be the smallest.
  • Color- Use colors that compliment the topic and donít clash. A topic about the Chicago fire could incorporate reds, oranges and yellows. A topic on the Civil War in Ohio could incorporate the grays and blues of the uniforms or use the battle flags
  • Interaction- Flip-ups, doors or hinged panels are fun ways to pull the visitor into an exhibit. Think about different interesting methods of presenting the content that physically engages the visitor.

Performances- Tools for the entertainer:

  • Set- Sets are a great way to set the stage and convey information, but whatever is created has to be dragged around (probably by parents) to contest venues. Students have five minutes to set-up.
  • Props- Like sets, props will need to be carried to and from contest locations. Keep it simple. Use items that will help set the stage.
  • Costumes- Costumes do not need to be entirely authentic, but should help provide an atmosphere. Like props, it can stay simple. Costumes can be used to help change characters. Changing a hat, apron, or adding a vest or jacket can help transform from one person to the next.
  • Blocking- Actors use this term to mean the movement on stage. When blocking is well considered, students donít just wander back and forth across the stage. It gives purpose to movement and makes a more powerful performance.
  • 1st or 3rd person- A performance can be done by a number of viewpoints. Students can do a first performance interpretation of a historical person or a fictional person from the time period. A performance can be done in 3rd person or with a narrator in third person with first person scenes.
  • Scenes- Unless a student is doing a monologue, a performance will have scenes. With ten minutes, these scenes need to be carefully crafted to make the best of the time and information.

Documentaries- Keeping it Reel:

  • Images- Any photos should show up clearly in the documentary. Pulling images from a Google search is popular, but sometimes results in a blurry documentary. The picture resolution (when scanning or acquiring electronic images) is important to consider. What looks good on the computer can look blurred or distorted on the TV or LCD projector.
  • Text- Text on the screen can be a great tool. If an image or sound bite is not evident, text can help identify important pieces of information. It can also reinforce information that is being used in the voice-over.
  • Music- Like documentaries on the History Channel, PBS or HBO, music can be an effective tool in a History Day project. Appropriate use of music can be powerful, almost emotional. If possible, music from the time period or the region strengthens the historical quality of the documentary. Smithsonianís Global Sound is a great resource for international or aboriginal music: It is important that any vocals do not compete with the narration. Bring the sound up and down when appropriate. Music with vocals is best avoided during narration.
  • Voiceover- Ten minutes is not a lot of time to squeeze in months of research and work, so a well-timed voiceover or narration is important. The narration should be recorded first so pictures and other clips can be timed when putting the video and images together. It is important not to rush and to enunciate. Students are responsible for doing their own narration or voiceovers. Take time for pauses. Ten minutes of rushed speaking will be difficult for the audience to absorb.

Papers- Notes for the studious:

  • Title page- It is tempting to add fancy graphics or pictures to a title page, but note: the rules have specific guidelines for a simple title page. Also, the paper should only be STAPLED, it is not necessary (and against the rules) to put papers in binders or other report covers.
  • Pictures- Pictures can be an effective way to bring a visual presence to the text. Any images can be put in the text or placed in an appendix. Use only relevant or appropriate images. Keep it simple sometimes less is better.
  • Endnotes or Footnotes- Regardless of using endnotes or footnotes, make sure they are consistent with the style used for the annotated bibliography. Endnote and footnote citations look different from bibliography citations, so check the style guides.
  • Organization- A good rule for organization of a paper (or any History Day entry) have an introduction that ends with the thesis statement. Follow by body paragraphs that lays out the event and/or the evidence to support the thesis. End with a conclusion that brings everything together and re-states the thesis.

Web Sites- Virtual tidbits

  • Navigation- Make sure that users can get to the homepage or navigation from anyplace on the website. No one should have to hit the back button to navigate the website.
  • Design- The look of a website can add to its impact and effectiveness. Use colors and images that compliment and enhance the content.
  • Interactive- Try to come up with ways to engage the audience in the content. Is there ways to make a timeline interactive or questions to ask with pop-up answers? Look around the Internet and see what can be adapted for a History Day project.
  • Software- Websites can be created with something as simple as Word. The list of programs is infinite. Most schools have some type of web software.
  • See an example web site done in 2009 about Woodrow Wilson.

Thank you for your interest in the Ohio Historical Society!

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