History Fair Celebrates a Dizzying Display of Research

January 30, 2024

For two hours last Thursday evening, the Bedford High School library felt like the center of the intellectual and social universe.

Students, teachers, administrators, family members, and other visitors packed the space for the 18th annual Winter History Fair, sponsored by the BHS Social Studies Department.

Four months of preparation by dozens of juniors and seniors, all high-honors history students of Patrick Culhane and James Sunderland, culminated in the event.

“The energy and enthusiasm from the students was palpable,” Culhane said. “I received a lot of positive feedback from parents, faculty members, and administration. The students definitely made themselves proud.”

The projects are modeled on the National History Day program, and next week some of the entries will register to represent BHS in the district competition March 10 at Leicester High School. The statewide contest is scheduled for April 6 and the national finals will be June 9-13 at the University of Maryland.

The theme of the History Fair, and the ensuing competition, is “Turning Points in History.”

And the entries were replete with variations on the theme: 

  • “The Creation of the MRI: A Turning Point in Medical History” 
  • “Submarine Cables: A Turning Point in Connecting the World” 
  • “The Emancipation Proclamation: A Turning Point in U.S. History” 
  • “A Japanese Turning Point in History: Discovery of Koi Fish” 
  • “Romanticism A Turning Point Toward Individual Expression in Society”

It may be a history fair, but the research topics encompass a wide range of disciplines: education, labor, physics, politics, fashion, economics, popular culture, public health, sports, architecture, religion, jurisprudence, warfare, and more.

Group and individual exhibits dominated the library landscape – there were 30 in all, involving 48 juniors and seniors, presenting an array of modifications to the standard display-board format.

There were also five research papers, and their authors stood at high-top tables, ready to describe their work. And available on desktop computer terminals were the 11 individual and group websites, produced by 15 students.

Visitors also watched documentary videos in nearby classrooms – there were 16 entries, created by 28 participants. And one student, Maya Singh, a junior, chose the medium of individual performance. Her presentation was “Intergenerational Communication Regarding Trauma through Personal History as Exemplified by the 1947 Partition.” 

“The process of getting students from the early stages of their projects to the showcase night is a long one, but I definitely felt re-energized and I am looking forward to the competition starting in March,” said Culhane, who is faculty advisor for National History Day competitors.

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