Welcome to the
Florida History Fair!
Sponsored by the Museum of Florida History, the Florida History Fair (FHF) is an annual, statewide activity that enhances the teaching and learning of history at elementary and secondary levels. Florida joins 49 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), which was established in 1974. 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 relies on project-based learning. The Museum of Florida History has coordinated FHF since the 1988–89 school year.
In January 2011, NHD announced exciting findings about the impact of participation on student achievement. In a report titled “National History Day Works,” available at www.nhd.org, researchers cite the outcome of a multi-year study in four school districts in the nation. Here are some of the key findings.
- NHD students outperform their non-NHD peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies but also in reading, science, and math.
- NHD students are better writers, write with a purpose and a real voice, and marshal solid evidence to support their viewpoint.
- NHD students are critical thinkers who can digest, analyze, and synthesize information.
- NHD students learn 21st-century skills. They learn how to collaborate with team members, talk to experts, manage their time, and persevere.
- NHD has a positive impact among students whose interest in academic subjects may wane in high school.
Students who participate in the history fair acquire valuable, life-long skills. Among these are
- self-directed study;
- the ability to conduct purposeful research and to identify, analyze, and interpret primary and secondary sources;
- the ability to convey synthesized information in popular formats;
- awareness of past events and their impact on society; and
- poise and self-assurance during contests with peers.
Because students can present their new-found knowledge in one of five media, the history fair facilitates academic and creative expression among students with different learning styles.
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 2015–16 theme is "Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History." 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 the various levels of competition. First- and second-place county winners in each category and division advance to the state contest in Tallahassee in May. Similarly, first- and second-place state winners in each category and division earn the right to represent Florida at the National History Day competition in College Park, Maryland, in June.
Nearly 53,500 students in 32 counties participated in the 2014–15 Florida History Fair. More than 1,100 youths registered for the state contest in May, and nearly 64 students from 15 counties represented Florida at the National History Day competition.
Participating counties pay an annual fee of $80, which enables all public, private, charter, and homeschool students to compete. Each county has a local coordinator, who oversees the school and district contests in her/his area. The statewide coordinator assists local efforts by preparing contest and curriculum materials, maintaining a website, providing training workshops for teachers and students, administering the state competition, and coordinating Florida's involvement in the national program.
Counties that participated in the 2014–15 Florida History Fair include: Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Duval, Escambia, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, and Volusia. Interested students in counties not listed above should contact the Florida History Fair state office for information about how to become involved.