First National History Day special science awards presented

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September 24, 2018

By Amanda Nelson, Archivist

In June, I had the pleasure of serving as a judge at the national competition for the National History Day competition. This is my fourth year as a judge and I am always amazed by the projects the students produce and the wide variety of topics covered. New this year, the Niels Bohr Library & Archives began a three-year cooperative agreement with National History Day to sponsor the History of the Physical Sciences & Technology Prize at their national competition. The prize gives a scholarship to an outstanding entry in both the Junior (middle school) and Senior (high school) level that explores a person or event important to the history of science and technology and puts the subject in historical context. We hope the award will help students become interested in the history of science and technology and bring a new generation of users to our resources. Both our winners this year participated in the paper portion of the competition, though the recipient can come from any project type (paper, performance, documentary, website, or exhibit).

Junior prize recipient, Isabelle Appel (right), with NBL&A Archivist, Amanda Nelson.I had the distinct joy as part of the national competition's awards ceremony to hand out our inaugural medals to the two recipients of the History of the Physical Sciences and Technology Prize. The junior division prize went to Isabelle Appel from Bettendorf, Iowa for her paper titled "Lise Meitner: Advancing Scientific Discovery in the Face of Conflicts Through Personal Sacrifice and Compromise." And the senior division prize went to Ali Jones from Spokane, Washington for her paper titled "Galileo Galilei: A Conflict of Faiths." We received very nice thank you notes from both recipients explaining how Isabelle had contacted NBL&A earlier in the year for some help pointing her in the right direction for her research and that Ali plans to pursue engineering and physics in college and that the award "could be the first step on that journey ahead."

Senior prize recipient, Ali Jones (right), with NBL&A Archivist, Amanda Nelson.To help spread the news about the new special prize and give students and teachers some ideas on possible topics for the upcoming school year, I wrote an article for the 2018-19 NHD theme book for this year’s theme of “Triumph and Tragedy.” Included in the article are possible topics, links to our various archival resources, and an advertisement at the end of the article pointing readers to the AIP History Programs webpages in general. Physical copies of the theme book are given to national competition participants and viewed over 300,000 times online by teachers and students participating in the upcoming year’s competition.

We look forward to continuing this partnership with the National History Day competition and can't wait to see the projects that are researched and created this year!