As part of the "Celebrate the Interstate 50th Anniversary campaign", the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) will sponsor National History Day 2006-2007.
The year-long national educational event reaches more than 700,000 students and 40,000 educators in grades 6 through 12 in 47 states.
The 26-year old program engages students in historical research, analyzing primary sources and competing through documentaries, performances, displays and papers. The theme for the coming year is “Triumph and Tragedy in History” and the Interstate Highway System is considered one of the United States’ greatest public works achievements.
National History Day coordinators wrote AASHTO saying, “The history of the Interstate Highway System stands as a triumph of the 20th Century and inclusion in the curriculum book will expose a broad cross section of teachers and students to the compelling history of its development 50 years ago.”
“There is a generation of people in this country that take the existence of the Interstate system for granted; not knowing the challenges faced by many of the 20th Century leaders who envisioned a cross-country network of highways that united the states,” said AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley.
“By reaching out to students and educating them about what a monumental task this was, we also hope to teach them about the impacts on our lives and how they can be a part of shaping the system’s future.”
The significance of transportation in the nation’s development was recently illustrated in this year’s competition in a presentation by Casie Purdeu, a student at D.C. Everest Senior High School in Westin, Wisconsin.
Her documentary, “Dr. Kate Pelham Newcomb: An Angel
in the Wisconsin North Woods” told of the doctor’s efforts
to build a hospital to serve the residents of the remote area because
“transportation wasn’t the best” in that area of the
country during the 1930s.
This year’s theme is “Taking a Stand in History: People, Ideas, Events.” This year’s week-long competition is June 11-15 at the University of Maryland and next year’s event is June 10-14 at the same location.