Read On! Good research

Last year, my son completed his first research assignment for school. He did a group project on Mount Rushmore and created a museum-type exhibit about it. This project and the research he did for it reminded me of the History Day events I used to judge when we lived in Missouri.

My first year judging History Day, I judged exhibits like the one my son made. The following eight years I judged middle school group documentaries (PBS-type videos). The projects require good research and clear presentation of the information.

When evaluating the students’ projects, my criteria was pretty standard: Were the sources they used scholarly? If they conducted interviews, did they interview people who have appropriate knowledge on the subject? Did they include primary sources (photographs, newspaper articles, etc. created during the event/time period)? Did they provide context for the information presented? Was it clear they thought about their sources before throwing them in their bibliography?

For the most part, these students did an excellent job. I had a few who clearly used the first links on a Google search and some who cited Google in their bibliographies but those were rare occasions. Overall, the projects and the research these students presented were always impressive.

If you or a student in your care find that you need help with a research project whether it’s as in-depth as History Day or for your own curiosity, our staff is happy to help guide you. We have online resources that are full of scholarly sources and primary sources. If your research is local, we even have some primary resources in our archival collection in the building. If you need help evaluating source material, citing them properly, or understanding how to provide context to your audience, let us know!

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