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 middle and high school. Florida joins 50 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). 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 2020–2021 theme is "Communication in History: The Key to Understanding." 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. County winners in each category and division advance to the state contest in May. First- and second-place state winners in each category and division earn the right to represent Florida at the National History Day competition in June.
Because students can convey their research in one of five media, History Day promotes academic and creative expression among students with different learning styles. Teachers and parents have long realized that students who participate in History Day acquire valuable, life-long skills. For example, NHD students
- 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.
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.