Today’s the first of two days of competition in the state level finals of the National History Day contest. Jeff Morgan, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, says hundreds of Iowa middle and high schoolers are at the State Historical Building in Des Moines to take part in the education-enrichment program.
Morgan says, "Five-hundred-50 students from all over the state are here today and next Monday competing for a trip to the national competition at the University of Maryland where college scholarships and prizes will be awarded." These are the winners from among some 3,500 Iowa students in the various district-level competitions. It’s not a "Jeopardy!"-style competition where kids are asked questions about history.
Instead, Morgan says they do research about historical issues, ideas, people and events — whatever sparks their interest. Morgan says: "They spend the school year working individually or in groups of two-to-five in a number of categories, papers, websites, group exhibits, documentaries, and all kinds of other things including performances, for this year’s theme which is ‘Triumph and Tragedy in History.’" The 50-to-60 winners from Iowa who go on to nationals in June will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Stephen Frese, of Marshalltown, who won a $100,000, four-year scholarship at last year’s national contest.