March 25, 2011

SIUC to host regional history fair April 2

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- There’s classroom learning, and then there’s Illinois History Fair learning. The Southern Region’s History Fair comes to the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus April 2, bringing with it hundreds of high school and junior high school students who have taken a close look at an aspect of Illinois history and are ready to share what they learned.

Students can participate in a variety of project categories, including research papers, exhibits, dramatic performances, or media presentations. The public may attend the performances beginning at 10 a.m.. Public exhibition of the displays begins at 1 p.m., and an awards ceremony takes place at 2 p.m. All events are in the SIUC Student Center.

Media Advisory

Members of the media, including photographers, camera crews and reporters, are welcome to cover the Southern Illinois Regional History Fair on April 2. Those who wish to speak with teachers and students as they make final preparations on their projects can contact Jo Ann E. Argersinger for participating schools in your target area. She may be reached at or at 618/453-3380.

Jo Ann E. Argersinger, SIUC history professor and coordinator of the regional event, said students from approximately 200 students from 30-some area schools will participate. She noted that while the history fair provides an opportunity for students to visit campus, involvement in the history fair is also beneficial for SIUC graduate students who volunteer as judges for the fair. The experience of reading student papers, for example, and seeing what it is about history that motivates high school and junior high school students can help students who want to teach. The pride the students display in their work can be a real inspiration, she added.

“The students are conscientious and they do a great job,” she said. “It’s wonderful, too, to see how supportive and involved so many of the parents are.”

Students who excel at the regional level may go on to the Illinois History Expo, held in Springfield on May 5. From there, superior entries may go on to the National History Day in College Park, Md., in June.

This year’s theme is “Debate and Diplomacy: Successes, Failures and Consequences.” Students who want the chance to compete on the national level develop a project relating Illinois history to the annual theme. If national competition is not necessarily a goal, then students may present their projects on any theme relating to Illinois history.

Here are some of the other awards and scholarships presented at the state level:

• Superior, Excellent, and Good awards -- These awards, given at the regional level as well as at the state level, include a written evaluation from the judges.

• Governor’s Award -- This annual award presented by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency goes to the school that has done the most to advance the study of Illinois and local history in the classroom and in the community.

• Student Historian awards -- These are given to the 14 student papers published in “Illinois History” magazine during the school year.

• Illinois College Scholarships -- These go to two high school students judged to have the best research papers on the Civil War and Illinois.

• Abraham Lincoln Association Awards -- These awards go to a junior and a senior high school paper.

• Illinois Association of Museums Award -- This is for a student with the best exhibit design.

Argersinger noted that projects from Southern Illinois have gone on to the national competition in the recent past. She said the dedication of teachers and students can sometimes make up for the lack of resources available in some areas of Southern Illinois.

“We are fortunate to have teachers in our region who dedicate themselves to these projects months in advance, even using their own money to contribute to the projects at times,” she said.

She also thanked Charlyce Jones-Owen and Elaine Shema at the Pearson publishing company. The two are behind a donation of thousands of dollars in textbooks and other educational materials for the teachers at participating schools -- a donation they have made in several previous years as well.