Saturday morning at UHD

As I stumbled out of bed at 6am, volunteering to be an exhibit judge for the local junior division National History Day didn’t seem like such a good idea.

Ten of us—all quite awake, believe it or not—met at 8:45 in the Judges Room at UH-Downtown to discuss the rules and procedures. The setup was similar to a science fair or a poster presentation. This year’s NHD theme was “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History”, and our task was to rate how well the exhibitors—who were students from grades 6 to 8—stuck to the theme, wrote up their research, and designed their exhibit.

We split into two groups, each reviewing half of the exhibits. We asked the exhibitors questions, testing their knowledge of the subject they chose and examining how well their exhibit meshed with the theme. Because these were 11- to 13-year-old kids, our goal was more to encourage them to continue to study history than to critique their exhibit at length and in detail (though some critique went into the written judge’s reports we gave them later). To our relief, the parents of the exhibitors were kept out of sight, taking a lot of pressure off both the kids and us.

After an hour examining the exhibits, we returned to the Judges Room to discuss what we’d seen and rank the top four exhibits out of the six (the top two would be sent to Austin for the state contest; third and fourth place would get certificates). We spent about 45 minutes hashing it out, and ended with a rank order and a set of critiques we could agree on, after which our group leader kindly volunteered to write the reports.

I enjoyed being a judge—it turned out to be worth getting up at 6:00 on a Saturday morning. I would encourage others with an interest in history to participate.

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One Response to “Saturday morning at UHD”

  1. Mark Hasty Says:

    Heh. I was part of a state-winning NHD team in 1986. One of the best experiences of my life: a group presentation on “Was the New Deal a Good Deal?” I got to be Herbert Hoover.

    “Mem’riesssss . . . light the corners of my miiiiind . . .”

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