OC middle school students get a jump on National History Day projects

In March, hundreds of local students will present their original websites, papers, documentaries, performances and exhibits at OCDE’s annual National History Day-Orange County competition.

But first comes a lot of research and preparation, much of which is quietly taking place now.

Students around a table with labtopsAbout 60 Orange County middle school students from the Santa Ana and Irvine unified school districts recently learned strategies to identify historical sources for their projects during a pair of free workshops hosted by OCDE at the UCI Langson Library.

Two identical sessions, titled “Find the Best Sources for Your History Day Research,” took place on Oct. 23 and Nov. 6. Both featured the expertise of Madelynn Dickerson, UCI’s research librarian for digital humanities and history.

We’re told local middle schoolers specifically learned what kinds of resources are available at UCI’s library, how to narrow down topics, and how to zero in on useful primary sources.

More than half a million students in grades four through 12 take part each year in National History Day contests at the local, state and national levels, working as individuals or in teams.

Participants thoroughly research their chosen historical topic before submitting in-depth projects connected to the annual theme. This year, it’s “Breaking Barriers in History.”

OCDE holds its county contest in March, and the state competition follows in May. Top performers from around the country advance to the national finals in June.

For more information, visit OCDE’s National History Day webpage.