My daughter has the opportunity through her school to participate in a scholastic competition called "National History Day." If you want to know lots about it, you can click the link. But in a nutshell, students in middle and high school extensively research a topic within the year's announced category. Working alone or in groups, they can create an enormous display board, a documentary, a website, a performance or a paper based on their topic. They attend a regional competition where they present their projects, and from there can progress to the state and national levels.
This year's topic is 'Exploration, Encounter and Exchange.' The sample topic list given to the kids was all over the map, with obvious choices like the pilgrims arriving in the new world and the work of Margaret Mead, to the seemingly only vaguely relevant like Pop Art and China's Explosion into Gunpowder.
"We're thinking of doing something that has to do with science," my daughter reported when she came home from school last week. She and the girl she's teamed up with were considering Jane Goodall, Margaret Mead, Steven Hawking and ... Frederick Banting, discoverer of insulin. "Exploration in Science: Jonas Salk and the discovery of the Polio Vaccine" was one of the sample topics, and it got her thinking.
Yesterday they made the final decision: a website about Banting! He was exploring scientifically, encountered a life-sustaining treatment, and the exchange is still occurring- allowing people with diabetes to live increasingly long and healthy lives.
I'm excited about this for many reasons:
She'll learn about the guy who discovered the stuff that keeps her alive.
She discovered that this classmate she's working with has 2 relatives with type 1 diabetes, so a new little diabetes community connection has been made.
I get to spend the next 4 months immersed in information and ideas about something fascinating and near and dear to my heart. This is refreshing since the knowledge I gained from last year's topic of Toussaint Louverture will benefit me only in trivia contests.
She has begun in November, and will continue into the spring, to spread awareness about diabetes. Her project will be viewed by her classmates, teachers, regional competition participants and judges.
And awareness is important, not only in November, but always!