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National History Day in Massachusetts

Virtual Project Guidelines

For the 2021, National History Day has created instructions for how to design and submit each project category virtually. This is particularly important for exhibits and performances, whose formats are most impacted by remote judging. See the following instructions for each NHD project category, and email your MA State Coordinators with any questions.

Virtual Performance Guidelines

You will need to submit:

  • Performance Companion Worksheet
  • A URL (that anyone with the link can view) to your recorded performance video
  • Title page, annotated bibliography and process paper

When submitting a video for an individual or group performance, please follow the criteria below:

  • Individual performances may be filmed on a camera, phone, or online conferencing platform (Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams).
  • Group performances may not meet in person to film. You may ONLY film group performances using online conferencing platforms, such as Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. This is to ensure safety and equity among all Massachusetts students no matter their local and school social distancing guidelines.
  • Students can utilize their backgrounds and props, wear any relevant costumes, and get creative. Students are encouraged to consider virtual backgrounds and other digital effects. Students can elaborate on these elements in the Performance Companion Worksheet.
  • Any audio recordings, music, or media should be present in the recording as a part of the performance. There will not be a space to include these elements in the Performance Companion Worksheet.
  • Individual and group performances should be recorded in one take regardless of recording platform. Do not edit multiple clips together.

Once recorded, upload the .MP4 file of your performance to Google Drive, One Drive, DropBox, or a private YouTube channel and save the URL.  Make sure that you set the sharing settings of your URL to "Anyone with link may view" if using Google Drive or similar online storage.

To prepare your paperwork, combine all of your required paperwork (title page, process paper, and annotated bibliography) into a single PDF file. (Free apps for this include Small PDF and I Love PDF.) The final PDF document order must be: title page, process paper, annotated bibliography.   Please see this video to learn how to combine your PDF documents into one PDF file.

When you are ready to submit your project, follow instructions in the NHD Registration Portal for how to upload the link to your video and the PDF of your paperwork materials to your student profile.

Virtual Exhibit Guidelines

Traditionally, an NHD exhibit is created on an exhibit board and placed on a table for judging. However, for this year's virtual contest, you have two options:

  1. Physically construct an exhibit board and then take photos of it, and follow the guidelines for virtual submission.
  2. Create a virtual exhibit and follow the guidelines for virtual submission.

Talk with your teacher, who can help you choose which option works best for you. Please consult the updated NHD Contest Rule Book for exhibit rules. For physical exhibits, we strongly recommend creating a simple tri-fold board this year (if you choose to add multimedia, you can include the link in your virtual submission) so that it is easier to photograph and reconstruct the exhibit virtually.

Guidelines for Creating a Physical Exhibit and Submitting it to a Virtual Contest

If you wish to create a physical exhibit, see pages 30-32 in the updated NHD Contest Rule Book for exhibit project rules. To compete in the Massachusetts virtual contest, follow these steps to transform your physical exhibit into a virtual one:

Step 1: Create a set of slides using one of the two templates below. These options provide you with slides to insert photos and text from your exhibit. You may not add additional slides. Further details can be found on the first page of either slide template.

Click here to view a sample project submitted through one of these templates.

Step 2: Prepare to submit your slides and required paperwork. Export/download your completed exhibit template as a PDF. Combine your exhibit PDF and required paperwork (title page, process paper, and annotated bibliography) into a single PDF file. (Free apps for this include Small PDF and I Love PDF.) The final PDF document order must be: title page, process paper, annotated bibliography, exhibit template.

  • Please see this example for the correct order.
  • Please see this video to learn how to combine your PDF documents into one PDF file.

Step 3: Follow the instructions on the NHD MA Registration Portal to submit your project.

Guidelines for Creating a Virtual Exhibit and Submitting it to a Virtual Contest

If you wish to create a virtual exhibit, see pages 30-32 in the updated NHD Contest Rule Book for exhibit project rules. Instead of building a physical exhibit, you will build your exhibit with design software. Your virtual exhibit must still comply with all category rules, including word count and maximum size.

Step 1: Create a Virtual Exhibit

To create a virtual exhibit, you may use one of the following two design software platforms that have been approve by NHD MA.  If you have another platform you'd like to use, please contact us at education@masshist.org for approval.

  • Google Drawings is a free program that allows you to create a virtual exhibit within the maximum size of an NHD exhibit. Using this program does require creating a free Google account if you do not already have one through your school.  Here is the exhibit template for Google Drawings.
  • Microsoft Publisher is another program that you may have access to through your school. This program also allows you to create a virtual exhibit that fits within the maximum size of an NHD exhibit.  Here is the exhibit template for Microsoft Publisher.

You can view a sample virtual exhibit here.

Some notes on using the exhibit templates:

  • Both of these templates are adjustable.
  • You may adjust or eliminate the black lines on the templates, if desired.
  • A 74-inch wide x 72-inch high page size replicates the maximum dimensions of a tri-fold exhibit. If you laid a standard rules-compliant tri-fold board flat, the dimensions of the board would be 74-inches wide by 72-inches high.
  • You may adjust the size to be smaller, but you may NOT create anything larger than these dimensions.
  • The minimum font size on a virtual exhibit is 20 pt. font.

Step 2: Prepare to submit your slides and required paperwork. Export/download your completed exhibit template as a PDF. Combine your exhibit PDF and required paperwork (title page, process paper, and annotated bibliography) into a single PDF file. (Free apps for this include Small PDF and I Love PDF.) The final PDF document order must be: title page, process paper, annotated bibliography, exhibit template.

  • Please see this example for the correct order.
  • Please see this video to learn how to combine your PDF documents into one PDF file.

Step 3: Follow the instructions on the NHD MA Registration Portal to submit your project.

Virtual Documentary Guidelines

You will create your documentary following the usual NHD guidelines in the NHD Contest Rule Book. Once you finish creating the documentary, upload the .MP4 file of your performance to Google Drive, One Drive, DropBox, or a private YouTube channel and save the URL.  Make sure that you set the sharing settings of your link to "Anyone with link may view" if using Google Drive or similar online storage.

To prepare your paperwork, combine all of your required paperwork (title page, process paper, and annotated bibliography) into a single PDF file. (Free apps for this include Small PDF and I Love PDF.) The final PDF document order must be: title page, process paper, annotated bibliography.

When you are ready to submit your project, follow instructions in the NHD Registration Portal for how to upload the link to your video and the PDF of your paperwork materials to your student profile.

Virtual Paper Guidelines

Paper submission virtually is identical to NHD project submission for an in-person contest.  When you are ready to submit your project, follow instructions in the NHD Registration Portal.

Virtual Website Guidelines

Paper submission virtually is identical to NHD project submission for an in-person contest.  When you are ready to submit your project, follow instructions in the NHD Registration Portal.