Ohio History Day goes virtual for the first time–here’s how you can participate


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Each year, students from grades 4th through 12th participate in Ohio History Day, a statewide educational program and competition that turns kids into historians. This year’s event is Saturday, April 25. 

“My project is a website about Madame C.J. Walker who was a haircare entrepreneur in the 1900s,” said 7th grader Vanessa Onyekelu. 

For Vanessa, Ohio History Day is the culmination of almost eight months of research. 

“I’m really glad it can still happen because we work really hard on these projects,” she said. “It would be really sad for it to go to waste.”

Ohio History Connection also invites the general public to judge Ohio History Day. Judging can be done completely online and there’s no experience required. Here’s how you can take part as a judge

More than 650 students from more than 100 schools take part in the competition, which turns students into true historians. This year’s theme is “Breaking Barriers in History.”

“They’re not just googling information. They are going through our digital archives at the Ohio History Connection,” said Emmy Beach, a spokesperson from the Ohio History Connection. “They are also looking at primary sources from other museums and cultural institutions.”

Most years, the competition would take place in person at Ohio Wesleyan University. This year, it’s gone virtual for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the stakes are the same. The top judged entries will be invited to the national competition in June, which will also be virtual. 

“Kids are resilient and they are going with the flow,” Beach said. “They are digital natives anyway so this probably isn’t as hard for them. It’s probably harder for us.”

With learning about history more important than ever, Vanessa is excited to share her work with the judges and the public. 

“This is a great way of connecting with others and you can learn so much by just studying history,” Vanessa said. “You can learn so much about culture, society, and laws that exist today. Even social biases.”

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