|Chicago Metro History Fair Documentary Rules|
Documentaries are visual and oral productions of students' historical research, analysis, and interpretation which have a narrative structure and are created and presented on via DVD. Websites are not accepted in the Documentary category.
The NEW Documentary Category Rules
DOCUMENTARY PENALTY POINTS (High School only)
High School documentaries that violate the rules will be subject to penalty point deductions. Junior Division documentaries will not receive separate penalties.
Documentary Competition Notes
All documentaries will be judged from DVDs or USB Flash drives. It is recommended that students bring copies on both media for judging. Consider testing it on a variety of machines before the contest.
The best final format for a documentary is a DVD. MP4, AVI, or WMV file, published and burned to a DVD. On Flash drives, the movie should be saved—not the individual files. Students may bring their own computers to the contest (if Apple laptops or tablets are brought, students are responsible for bringing their own adapter for the projector).
Please bring three copies of the following materials to the contest:
- Summary Statement
- Annotated Bibliography [See “Required Materials” ]
Students may be asked to leave a copy of their documentary with the judges for History Fair purposes, but it is not required—please label it with title and/or student names.
Written materials should be printed on plain white paper and stapled together (no binders). Judges will ask to keep at least one copy of the written materials. The presentation concludes with a brief interview with the judges.
- Spend time watching and analyzing documentaries, such as those available on PBS. Pay attention to the elements, narrative, and structure of these documentaries to see how the professionals successfully communicate their ideas through this medium.
- A documentary uses visual evidence such as photographs, maps, film clips, interviews, and other graphic images. Subtitles, quotations, and other highlights are appropriate, but the presentation should not rely heavily on printed text. While technical and creative quality are important, they do not outweigh the need for solid historical knowledge and analysis.
- Clips from existing documentaries should be used sparingly. Overuse or long segments of footage from a professional production are discouraged. Most importantly, History Fair documentaries should present students’ own interpretations.
- Audio can be a mix of student narration, interviews, and music. Speak at a steady pace. Soundtracks are best when relevant to content and volume does not distract from the voiceover. When using interviews that are hard to understand, consider subtitles. Ask different people to listen to the documentary to make sure all types of people can understand the narration so that adjustments may be made before the final version.
- There are no specific penalties for being under 10 minutes in length. If the documentary is significantly shorter, however, the judges may determine that the project needed more knowledge and analysis.
Rules for All Categories
All History Fair projects must comply with these rules AND the specific rules for each category which follow.
- Topics must connect with Chicago or Illinois history in order to advance to the state contest. Non-Illinois topics are only permitted at the regional and finals competitions.
- Projects competing to advance to National History Day must connect to Chicago/Illinois history and use the NHD theme.
- Projects registered as “NHD eligible” will be assessed on how well their project integrates the NHD theme.
- Students may enter only one project each year. Sharing research in multiple projects is not permitted. Revising or reusing an entry from a previous year—whether one’s own or another student’s—will result in disqualification.
- Entries submitted for competition must be original and have been researched and developed in the current contest year.
- Students are responsible for the research, design, and production of their own project, as well as operating their own equipment and materials, including any narration. Students may receive advice from adults on the mechanical aspects of creating an entry and/or reasonable help necessary for safety, but the work must be completed by students. Materials created by others for use in the entry violate this rule.
- Each project is required to have a Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography. [See “Required Materials” for more details.]
- Word counts must be provided for exhibits, websites, and papers. Time lengths must be provided for documentaries and performances.
- Plagiarism is unacceptable, and constitutes grounds for disqualification. [See www.plagiarism.org for further guidance.]
- Items potentially dangerous in any way—such as weapons, firearms, animals, etc.—are strictly prohibited.
- Do not place school name on projects, nor give in interviews.
- Interviews: Students should not prepare a formal, verbal presentation; however, they should plan to respond to questions posed by judges. The interviews are important to the History Fair experience, but the entry is judged on its merits alone. Website and paper interviews are optional.
- The Fair Use Doctrine allows students to use pre-existing materials (photos, footage, music, etc.) for educational purposes, including student productions like History Fair; therefore, students need not seek formal permissions within the context of the competition. However, if the project is shown in non-educational settings, then permissions should be sought as appropriate.
- Teachers may have additional rules/restrictions for the History Fair at individual schools. Students should comply with all rules set by their teacher.
- Exhibits, performances, and documentaries will be judged and interviewed at the public competitions. Papers and websites are judged in a separate stream, which may have different deadlines for submission.
All projects must include an Annotated Bibliography and Summary Statement. Bibliographies must follow either the Turabian or MLA style format. Turabian is preferred. In the bibliography, each source should be annotated with a short description of how the student used that source.
The bibliography must be divided between primary sources (sources from the time period or written by someone with firsthand knowledge) and secondary sources (sources written after the time period, typically by a historian).
Students must acknowledge all sources used in the development of the project in the Annotated Bibliography in order to avoid plagiarism.
Include all sources that contributed useful information, perspectives, or visuals. Annotations may explain why students placed the source as primary/secondary if it is not immediately obvious; and, in the case of web sources, note its credibility. Bundle photos or other materials from the same collection into a single citation. Cite oral history transcripts, questionnaires, or other supplementary materials in the bibliography—do not provide copies of them.
The Summary Statement provides the project’s thesis, a summary of the argument, and information about the development of the project. The form is available on the History Fair website.
Except for websites, where the Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography should be printed on plain, white paper and stapled together and brought to the event with the project. The Annotated Bibliography and Summary Statement are not included in the word count.
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