Hundreds of Indianapolis Public Schools students took a deep dive into history through the National History Day district competition. This engaging initiative encourages students to hone their research skills in a rigorous project; our skilled researchers presented their results to a team of judges this week for a chance to take their findings to the state level competition.


Students across the country prepared in-depth research projects linked to one theme – Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History. The presentation of the research was required to be in one of five formats chosen by the student: exhibit, research paper, website, documentary or performance.


Shortridge High School had 100 students in the district competition; every freshman in the International Baccalaureate (IB) school’s AP World History class was expected to complete a project as part of the course.


“The reason we embrace this project is that it jives so well with the IB curriculum,” said Shortridge AP World History teacher David Todd. “Students learn about research, investigation, making arguments, and finding primary and secondary sources that support their claim. This serves as a basis for the rest of their career at this high school. A student who can generate argumentative thesis statements will be well served at this school and later on at university.”


For most freshmen at Shortridge, this is their first experience with a long-term research project. The inquiry-based structure of National History Day not only aligns to the curriculum already in place at Shortridge, but creates buy-in by allowing students to explore topics that speak to them.


Keith S. was inspired by his passion for dance, and decided to take the opportunity to research the history of hip hop. He tracked down the origins of the genre and learned about the ways it spread throughout the country and has become a prominent factor in American culture.


“First I started looking into how hip hop originated. I was glad to learn it really didn’t start in America, it started in Jamaica, so I was able to tie it into the “Encounter, Exchange” part of the theme, since it was brought here instead of made here. I learned a lot about DJ Kool Herc, James Brown and Tupac; how they did a lot to spread hip hop and help it evolve, along with radio and television.”


To showcase his research, Keith put together all of his best moves – and many he didn’t know before he started this project – into a performance encompassing the evolution of hip hop. Check out a portion of his performance in the video below:


Dozens of IPS students qualified to participate in the state competition on April 23; we look forward to seeing their research in action and wish them luck! Our amazing IPS scholars make us Proud to be Public!