Two Brown County students qualified to take their History Day projects to the national stage in June, and one made the trip to compete in College Park, Maryland.
Junior high competitor Emily Earnshaw participated in the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest June 12 to 16 at the University of Maryland, with about 3,000 other students.
Senior high competitor Elisabeth Huls’ project also was eligible, but she was unable to attend the competition.
Earnshaw did her project on the history of bio-chemical warfare. “I wanted to study a topic not many people know about and that interests me,” she said.
She decided to create a website for her project because “it had the greatest word count and I am quite expressive.” But it was still difficult to keep her reporting within the 1,200-word limit.
She credits Brown County Junior High School social studies teacher Emily Pettijohn for helping narrow her thoughts to one World War I battle — the Battle of Ypres. Earnshaw felt that was the first major use of bio-chemicals during war.
Her research inspired the title of her project: “WWI’s Accessory to Murder.”
She did not place at nationals, “but it was an experience I will treasure and look forward to participating again in eighth grade,” she said.
Earnshaw was awarded a runner-up spot at the regional competition at Brown County High School. At state, she placed first in the junior individual website category.
Then, she began fundraising and modifying her project using critiques from the judges. Earnshaw credits her mother for helping her raise enough money to attend nationals, along with History Day sponsors Alecia Adams and Emily Pettijohn.
“It was great traveling with them and getting details about history and government while sightseeing in D.C.,” she said.
After high school, Earnshaw plans to join the Navy and become a nurse practitioner, then transfer either into the Marines or to Purdue University.
National History Day in Indiana is a yearlong program dedicated to enhancing history education in elementary and secondary schools. Students in grades four through 12 explore a historical topic and create a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website.
Nearly 500 students took part in the state competition; more than 400 competed in the regional at Brown County High School. Fifty-one Brown County students placed high enough to advance to state.
Huls also advanced to nationals last year. This year, her project focused on the Johann Henrich Pestalozzi educational system, which was utilized during the Pestalozzian Era of the utopian community of New Harmony, Indiana, around 1825.
Pestalozzi was an education professor and philosopher from Switzerland. He believed that every human being is able to learn and that each has a right to an education.
Coming from a family of teachers, Huls is interested in education overall, she said.
Her cousin is the director of Historic New Harmony Inc., and helped her with her research.
“It was really interesting and a lot of fun to compare old educational techniques to the ones used today by my family members,” she said.
Huls earned second place in the senior paper category at the state competition, which qualified her for nationals.
Last year, her paper on Albion Fellows Bacon, the woman who founded the YWCA, took first at regionals and state; Huls also was one of 50 students nationwide invited to a special Breakfast on the Hill in Washington, D.C., during National History Day 2015.
“This year’s project was definitely challenging, but made me a better researcher and student as a whole,” she said.
View Emily Earnshaw’s National History Day project on chemical warfare in WWI at http://81527608.nhd.weebly.com.