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How do I let the Chicago Metro History Fair (CMHF) know I would like to participate?Complete the online Intent-to-Participate Form at the beginning of the school year.  This critical step ensures that you receive important contest communications throughout the school year and allows CMHF to plan appropriately for the contests in the spring.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having the History Fair be a voluntary
or classroom requirement?

Over forty years experience has shown that in-class assignment of History Fair brings a richer, deeper, and effective experience for participants than the extra-curricular model.  Ultimately, however, the decision is up to the teacher(s).
How does the “NHD theme” relate to History Fair?The National History Day (NHD) theme is offered each to students as an analytical framework for their History Fair project.  Each year the theme differs.  Only projects that incorporate the annual theme can advance to Illinois History Day and National History Day. As a learning tool, the theme encourages students to explore a historical question and develop a thesis based on the theme, which for many students helps them focus and achieve deeper understanding of their topic and history.
Is there a schedule that will assist me in managing the History Fair?Our website offers several sample pacing guides developed by veteran teachers that you can adapt to fit your own situation.  Always start your own schedule for the year by looking at the website’s Dates and Deadlines.  The most important date is the deadline for the registration. A teacher can work backwards in terms of determining the internal project deadlines as well as the school fair.
What types of projects can students do?Students can choose to present their conclusions as a museum-style exhibit display, a performance, a documentary, a website or a research paper.  You can learn more about each category and its specific rules and requirements in the NHD Rule Book, which governs all CMHF, state, and national contests.
Which is the best presentation format for a History Fair project?Some teachers offer all categories of History Fair projects to their students, while others may limit student choice.  We recommend allowing students to select the type of final product they wish to present, but the range of options is up to the teacher.  When selecting a presentation format, students should consider their own learning and communication styles, as well as what presentation format is the best medium to present that research topic. Exhibits are not necessarily the “easiest” or best choice for students.

Students who are visual learners or artistic may be drawn to the exhibit, website, and documentary categories.  Verbal students may prefer to write a paper or the “publicly verbal” students may choose to present what they have learned through performances.

Exhibits, websites, and documentaries require a substantial amount of visual information (photographs, documents, maps, artifacts, graphs, etc.).  If suitable visuals are not available on the student’s research subject, the paper or performance categories may be a more effective way for the student to communicate his/her findings.

Are there rules and guidelines for student projects?The NHD Rule Book governs all contests around the nation that affiliate with National History Day, including CMHF.
How many students can work together on a project?In the exhibit, performance, website, or documentary categories, students may work individually or in teams of two to five students, based on teacher discretion.  Papers must be completed by individuals.
How do I organize the actual fair at my school and how do I determine which project advances to the regional fair? See our guide to Organizing a School Fair.

Schools are allowed to bring a certain number of projects to the fair which is determined, in part, by the number of total projects completed at the school.  Project allowances for both the senior and junior divisions are listed on the event pages, but staff can verify. See the Contest Administration Guide for details. This section is subject to change for the 2021 season!

How are student projects judged at the History Fair competition?Each project submitted to the regional contests is reviewed by a team of volunteer judges who evaluate the students’ projects in accordance with the NHD Evaluation Forms. Some teachers provide a copy of the form at the outset so students know the expectations.  The forms may also be used or adapted for the school’s history fair.

Stay tuned for details of how the contest will be structured for the 2021 season.

Which competition do we attend?There are three Chicago area competitions:

  • Suburban Senior Division (grades 9-12 outside of Chicago),
  • City Senior Division (Grades 9-12 inside Chicago),
  • Chicago Metro Junior Division (6-8 grades in city and suburbs)

The current dates and deadlines for each contest can be found on our Educators page.  CMHF sends the registration form only to the schools that have submitted the Intent to Participate in Program Form.

Are there any fees?There is a fee for schools who wish to participate in the Chicago Metro History Fair. We are currently reviewing our fee structure in advance of the 2021 season.
What type of support can I expect from CMHF?Supporting CMHF teachers is the highest priority for our staff.

  • Please email [email protected] with questions. We try to return emails within 24 hours.
  • A range of PD opportunities are available for teachers
  • The CMHF web site is a “virtual History Fair manual.” Please explore or use the site search if you are looking for particular information.
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