Florida History Day!
Sponsored by the Museum of Florida History, Florida History Day (FHD) is an annual, statewide activity that enhances the teaching and learning of history at elementary and secondary levels. Florida joins 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and international schools in East and South Asia as an affiliate of National History Day® (NHD), which was established in 1974. NHD promotes history in the classroom by offering students the resources and support to do original research about people, ideas, and events of the past. The curriculum supports the project-based learning approach. The Museum of Florida History has coordinated FHD since the 1988–89 school year.
Based on a theme selected annually by NHD, students in grades 6 to 12 use primary and secondary sources to research a topic relating to local, national, or world history. The 2017–18 theme is "Conflict and Compromise in History." After analyzing and interpreting the information they have gathered, students express their findings in a paper, exhibit, performance, documentary, or website. They may work individually or in groups of up to five members except in the historical paper category, which is open only to individuals. Students' entries are judged in two divisions—junior (grades 6–8) and senior (grades 9–12)—during various levels of competition. First- and second-place county winners in each category and division advance to the state contest in Tallahassee in May. Similarly, first- and second-place state winners in each category and division earn the right to represent Florida at the National History Day competition in College Park, Maryland, in June.
Nearly 66,070 students in 31 counties participated in the 2016–17 Florida History Day. More than 1,100 youths registered for the state contest in May, and 61 students from 15 counties represented Florida at the National History Day competition.
Participating counties pay an annual fee of $80, which enables all public, private, charter, and homeschool students to compete. Each county has a local coordinator, who oversees the school and district contests in her/his area. The statewide coordinator assists local efforts by preparing contest and curriculum materials, maintaining a website, providing training workshops for teachers and students, administering the state competition, and coordinating Florida's involvement in the national program.
Counties that participated in the 2016–17 Florida History Day include: Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Gadsden, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Marion, Miami-Dade, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, Volusia, and Walton. Interested students in counties not listed above should contact the Florida History Day state office for information about how to become involved.
Teachers and parents have long realized that students who participate in History Day acquire valuable, life-long skills. Among these are the ability to
- conduct meaningful, self-directed research;
- identify, analyze, and interpret primary and secondary sources;
- convey synthesized information in popular formats;
- recognize how past events impacted the surrounding society; and
- present themselves with poise and self-assurance during contests with peers.
Because students can convey their research in one of five media, History Day promotes academic and creative expression among students with different learning styles.
In 2011, NHD released key findings from a multi-year study that confirmed the program's value. For example, NHD students
- outperform non-NHD peers on state standardized tests in social studies, reading, science, and math;
- are better writers and marshal solid evidence to support their viewpoint;
- are critical thinkers who can digest, analyze, and synthesize information; and
- know how to collaborate with team members, talk to experts, manage their time, and persevere.