The idea of an after-school club focused on studying history may not appeal to some, but District 96 Twin Groves 8th graders Kavya Akkina, Aditi Bobba, Sanya Mahajan, and Anish Nadella and their sponsor Social Studies Teacher Jill Leone certainly would not agree.
The students’ interest in researching the journey to the abolishment of the death penalty in the State of Illinois led to fascinating learning. Spending time with friends as they worked and learned together was a bonus.
Researching their topic involved some determined effort that began in September. It included digging into secondary sources to find primary sources with the information they sought. They also conducted interviews with staff from the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., and the Northwestern University Bluhm Legal Clinic Center on Wrongful Convictions
History Fair offers five options for participation and these Twin Groves students chose to create a website–the most interactive option for entries. The WEBSITE they created included links to videos and won compliments from judges for the variety of sources and the detailed descriptions it included.
In developing content, the students chose to develop a timeline, with statistics of executions from the seventies to 2011, when Illinois became the 16th state to abolish capital punishment. They also included a tweet made by President Donald Trump in their examination of how media influences views on the death penalty.
Their project earned Superior recognition in State-level competition.
Each of these eighth graders looks forward to participating in History Fair competitions as Stevenson students. They advise middle school students to take advantage of this fun opportunity to learn with friends. They advocate choosing a topic that is somewhat unique (avoid the Chicago Fire!) and calling on time management skills to avoid a last-minute rush to complete the work What’s most important? Genuine interest in the topic and a passion for learning history.