CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Coastal Carolina University hosted a student workshop Saturday for middle and high school students participating in National History Day.

Organizers said National History Day is a great way to empower students to learn about the past in a creative and hands on way.

Dr. Amanda Brian, Associate Professor at CCU in the Department of History, said the students are the ones creating the projects and are becoming historians and scholars.

“So how do they find information, process information, and tell a story ultimately?” Brian said. “And that’s really important to be able to do at any point in your academic career, but also in a variety of professions. So, we want to introduce those skill sets early.”

National History Day is a non-profit organization that invites students grades 6th through 12th to do their own in-depth history project.

Coastal Carolina University, the host and sponsor for the South Carolina National History Day provided different sessions and the opportunity to talk with experts one-on-one about their project.

Lexi Spencer, a Saint James Middle School Student said the teamwork process and the research was all beneficial.

There were five categories. Websites, documentaries, performances, and papers.

Dr. Amanda Brian, Associate Professor at CCU in the Department of History, said the students choose a topic based on a theme.

“This year’s theme is turning points in history,” Brian said. “And so, they put together their own research, and they do their own project.” 

Students can work individually or as a group.

One student from Saint James Middle School, Charles Ryan, shared how his project idea came about.

“So when we were thinking about turning points, because I’m taking fundamentals of computing, we do a little bit of computer history,” Ryan said. “And ENIAC was actually one of the things we went over, and it was one of the major things because that’s the first computer, that’s the first electrical computer that got us to the technology we have today. So that came into mind, and we thought how much of a huge turning point that was.” 

Lexi Spencer, a student at St. James Middle School shared how her passion is writing and that she is excited for the opportunity to be creative with her project.

“I’m a writer,” Spencer said. “And so obviously the fact that, like, I grew up watching SNL, I want to have, like, a comic skit, I want to be able to write it, and work with it. And just, the fact that I might be able to, create the script and possibly could go to national level for it would have something, like, on my back that I’m a good writer.”

Through the process of creating historical research projects, students develop skills in communication, project management, and historical thinking.

Dr. Amanda Brian, Associate Professor at CCU in the Department of History said they want to inspire the next generation of historians through National History Day.

“So, we get excited by what the students are doing,” she said. “And we hope to help lend our expertise to their projects as well.”

The students will go on to compete and present their project at regionals in March. If chosen, they then go onto the state championship in April and finally nationals in June.

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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.