NATIONAL HISTORY DAY—HISTORY OF SCIENCE SOCIETY (HSS)—Committee on Education and Engagement (CoEE): Application Form

This year’s theme for the United States’ National History Day (NHD) is Communication in History – the Key to Understanding. The HSS CoEE is proposing to create a website that would serve as a general guide for 6th to 12th grade students (ages 12 to 18) for using material culture of science as a type of primary source for their history projects. Moreover, we want to place a special focus on diversity and inclusiveness, and thus go beyond the conventional Plato to NATO narrative. The field has changed tremendously over the past 20 years and we want to make sure our website illustrates this important transformation. 


The website would do two things: 1) gather and organize what is already easily available on the web, curated by scholars in the field (podcasts, open source documents; videos; films, exhibitions, etc.); 2) engage with new source materials by inviting individual scholars and institutions to share documents and short videos about their material collections (books, objects, archives, etc.).


If you agree, we would like to invite you to share with us what you believe is the best information available online that would be useful to prepare for the NHD competitions.




  1. A) Please send to us, with a one-line explanation, links to podcasts, open-source documents, blogs, videos, films, exhibitions, etc., which fit with the NHD’s topic and which relate to the material culture of science and/or addresses the core question of diversity and inclusiveness. 


For instance, this reference website from the Library of Congress, which is a great place to start, looks at the work of African Americans in science and engineering. 


Another example is this interview with Evelynn Hammonds, from Harvard University, which discusses the role of race and women in the sciences and why it is important to study it.


And yet another example is the YouTube channel built by Paolo Brenni where he demonstrates the use of scientific instruments from a historical collection located in Florence.


**You can submit your references in a Word document**


  1. B) As regards the creation of new videos, WHICH WE WANT TO PRIORITIZE, here are the instructions we received to make them successful tools for 6th to 12th grade students. 


NHD has recommended that the 5-15 minute videos include the following:


1) Make sure that the videos emphasize the visual and are not wordy or reliant on power point. It’s best for demonstrators to start with an object that they can interact with, to demonstrate a dynamic interaction, even if students may not be able to access that object due to COVID 19. The object can be used as a starting point/hook to talk about history of science and tech, as well as to provide information on other collections that are digitally available. 


2) The videos should highlight A) what primary source resources are out there, B) especially digitally available resources, C) connection across disciplines.


3) Keep things digestible in terms of what you will cover – look at one specific concept, make it concrete with an artifact or demonstration, direct, visible. Do not focus on a lot of words. Crack a joke, be goofy/funny. Have fun, spark personality. 


4) Keep in mind: why would this appeal to a teenager?


One example from the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments at Harvard University (not exactly that, but it presents well the role of the material culture of science as “things that talk,” looking at 3 objects, from one collection). 


There is no limit to the creativity of videos! 


** Considering the size of videos, please submit a link to a Dropbox or another cloud storage service, or use the We Transfer free service (, so we can download it and include it into a YouTube channel we plan to create for this very purpose**




We would like to receive your references and/of video until 10 March 2021.





Name of your institution

Address of your institution

Email address

Anything else you want us to include


Please send your completed form, references and video projects to:


Jean-François Gauvin (

Marissa Petrou (