March 26, 2014

SIU to host regional history fair

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- More than 300 area junior high and high school students are expected at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Saturday, March 29, for the annual Southern Illinois Regional History Fair. 

The history fair is growing every year as more junior high and high schools in the 33 counties comprising the southern region participate.  Jonathan Wiesen, professor of history and event coordinator, said this year’s entries include nine performances and 45 research papers, as well as entries in other categories. 

The exhibits and performances will be in the Student Center.  

Here’s how it works: participating students choose their own topic -- an Illinois-related topic that relates to the theme, “Rights and Responsibilities in History.”  Students demonstrate their knowledge by creating a visual exhibit, writing a research paper, staging a dramatic interpretation, or producing a web page or other media performance. 

Students receive awards of superior, excellent, or good, along with a written evaluation from the judges.  Top entries advance to statewide competition, with the potential to compete at the national level. Students will also compete for statewide scholarships, and for those with traditional research papers, for publication in “Illinois History” magazine. 

While on campus students will have the chance to view such SIU treasures as a 4,000-year-old clay tablet featuring Sumerian writing, a page from the Gutenberg Bible, and a handwritten copy of an Abraham Lincoln speech. 

Here is an overview of the day’s events:

  • 8 a.m. -- registration and exhibit preparation, Student Center.
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m. -- performances, Student Center, Ballroom D.
  • 12:30-1:30 p.m. -- Morris Library Special Collections viewing, Morris Library.
  • 1-2 p.m.-- public exhibition of exhibits, Student Center; University Museum open for viewing.
  • 2-3 p.m. -- awards ceremony, featuring SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng and Peter Harbison, educational services, Illinois Historic Preservation Society.