History is inescapable, and can help us understand how the society we live in came to be.
More than 115 Bettendorf Middle School students learned this lesson by participating in “National History Day," a year-long academic enrichment program that challenged them to research, develop and present their ideas in a cumulative project.
Nearly 8,000 Iowa students participated in the program, which is sponsored by the state historical society of Iowa.
Seventy Iowa students advanced to the national competition, which was held in Washington, D.C. from June 10-14. Six were from Bettendorf Middle School.
This year’s theme was “Conflict and Compromise in History." Students were asked to focus on something or someone of historical significance at least 25 years ago. There are five category choices: a historical paper, exhibit, performance, website or documentary.
Bettendorf eighth grader Isabelle Appel received an award at the national competition for her paper, titled “Lisa Meitner: Advancing Scientific Discovery in the Face of Conflicts Through Personal Sacrifice and Compromise.” Meitner was an Austrian physicist whose work contributed to the first atomic bomb and nuclear weapons.
“I’ve been part of the National History Day project for three years. I’ve enjoyed taking the research to the next level, and for me, I’ve focused on science,” said Appel.
While Appel is the only Bettendorf Middle School student who won an award at nationals, the school took five other national-qualifying students, and a total of four projects to the competition. Other students attending included Charlie Erpelding, Carolyn Kress, Rebeca Garza-Doty, Samantha Fitzpatrick, and Julia Fielder.
Fielder’s project was entitled, “Operation Housewife: How an Internal Conflict Inspired a Life Changing Compromise,” focusing on Betty Freidan.
“She was an amazing and revolutionary woman. I told her story in a 10 minute performance, I learned and memorized it all,” said Fielder.
It’s the third year that Bettendorf Middle School has participated in the program, which is geared for students in sixth through twelfth grades. Students enrolled in the middle school’s honors language arts program participate as part of their curriculum, and the program is offered as an after school club as well.
“It’s a very rigorous program, and the level of research that goes into the projects is extensive. There’s a competitive aspect, but the end goal is to take an in-depth look at history,” said Deb Temperly, a teacher and librarian at Bettendorf Middle School, who is one of five teachers overseeing the project.
Temperly hopes the program expands to include more high school students next school year.