Pharaohs to Palestine: School’s History Day projects run gamut
February 27, 2013
History took over the technology building at Carson High School on Tuesday for the district’s first History Day competition.With a theme of “Turning Points in History: People, Events and Ideas,” the 47 entries by 100 students varied in topics from “Hatshepsut: The First Woman Pharaoh” to “Creation of the Credit Card.”Presentation methods also varied. Students chose from four presentation platforms: website, documentary, exhibit or historical paper.“The students are doing an outstanding job our first year,” said Nicole Fagundes, whose honors world history students participated in the competition. Although it’s the school’s first, National World History Day competitions began in 1980.Margaret Duvall’s and Rebecca Motley’s exhibit “Radio: The Gateway to Modern Democracy” was inspired by the events of the Arab Spring and the way protesters used social media to coordinate activities. However, the 2011 events led to the ouster of several Middle Eastern dictators were too recent to have a role in the competition.“We began tracing the media back to radio,” Motley said, adding that they found a similar explosive change toward democratic governments that began more than a century ago.The team traced the history of radio from its invention in 1895 by Guglielmo Marconi to its use by China’s Mao Zedong. Tyler Torres and Ashra Taslima looked at a Middle Eastern issue more directly with their exhibit “Palestine: Where the Sun Never Rose Again.”“I heard a lot about this in class watching CNN Student News (broadcasts),” Torres said. “There’s a lot going on in Israel.”What stood out in their research was the complexity of the issues, Torres said. Even the best solutions have major drawbacks.Both exhibit teams made personal connections by talking to people with experience. Duvall interviewed her grandmother, who, as a child, heard one of the first radio broadcasts — from New York to Seattle. Taslima talked to a man who lived in Israel in 1948.Other students chose to present their history projects using a modern tool: computers.Amber Seifert, Alexis Lequerica and Sumner Steel developed a website featuring “Catherine the Great and the Integration of Western Ideas to Russia.”The three students are taking computer classes, which enabled them to work on their project in class as well as at home. “It was an interesting topic to do on computer instead of on a board,” Legerica said.“Catherine the Great was a powerful female figure,” Seifert said. “She did a lot for Russia when she was ruling,” Steel said.Among the surprises they found as they delved into the topic was how Catherine the Great came to power.“Catherine and her husband’s mother overthrew her husband (the czar),” Seifert said. “They were all in on the (murder) plot.”Making their presentation to the judges was “nerve-wracking at first” Seifert said. But they all agreed that the judges were nice and helpful as well, even offering suggestions on building a website.Fagundes said the 15 volunteer judges came from the State Archives, State Museum, Truckee Meadows Community College and Teaching American History Project, State Department of Education, community volunteers and teachers. They reviewed the students’ project itself, listened to the presentation, reviewed the students’ papers describing their processes, and asking questions that demonstrated the students’ mastery of their chosen topics.The top 15 projects, which will be announced Friday, qualify to move on to the state competition March 30 at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the top state projects move on to the National History Day competition in June in Maryland.