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National History Day: Preparing your project

Some resources to help you prepare your NHD project

Putting it all together

Helpful hints

Some tips

Tips from the University of Georgia

1. Start early and make sure you know, understand and follow the rules of the competition. NHD competition FAQS

2. Make the visuals count--If you are presenting an exhibit, documentary or Web site, make sure your visual elements illuminate your research question.  The judges should be able to tell with a quick glance how your research relates to the NHD theme, and then they will be eager to explore your project more thoroughly.

3. Give credit where credit is due--Make sure you credit reproductions of images, text, and film accurately.

4. Be legible--If you are making an exhibit, pay attention to the visual impact--can judges read your text from 3-4 feet away? Don't put a book on a trifold!

5. Find a balance--Let images carry the weight of explaining your topic and let text be succinct and limited.

6. Channel the look of the past--Any embellishments of your project should match the time period and viewpoint of your topic. What colors were popular during the time of your exhibit topic? What did published items (advertisements, magazines, books, etc.) look like at the time? Your project should look clean and professional, like a museum exhibit.

 7. Go the extra mile--Visit a local archives for access to great primary sources that may not be available online. Remember, a huge percentage of primary sources are not available online. Judges will appreciate NHD projects that go the extra mile to find the perfect source instead of the easy access source. Cool sources get noticed.

8. Put yourself in the shoes of the judges and ask tough questions--how does your topic relate to the theme, why did you choose it, what are the historical questions driving your project, what sources helped you think about the topic, did your research lead you to new questions? 

9. Prepare for glitches--if you are presenting a Web site or a documentary, spend some time anticipating problems that may arise related to the equipment and resources you need to make your project accessible to judging. Extra power cords, speakers, copies of your project, can all help you deal with unforseen problems with your projects. 

10.  Learn from the experience--check out the competition, and see what worked well and what could be improved. Take the feedback from judges and consider how you can incorporate it in future projects.