Lisa Oppenheim 
Chicago Metro History Education Center 


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Niles North High School
9800 Lawler
Skokie, IL 60077

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Illinois Institute of Technology
McCormick Tribune Center
3201 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60616

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WCTU Library and Archives
1730 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201
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University of Illinois at Chicago
Student Center
750 S. Halsted
Chicago, IL 60607

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Lane Tech High School
2501 W. Addison (parking on Western),Chicago,60618

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Newberry Library
60 W. Walton,Chicago, IL 60610

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Join us at the Chicago Metro History Fair

Frequently Asked Questions about Judging

Why do people like to judge?

"I fell in love with the kids. They were so excited about their topics!”  

“I learned something new from each of the projects I judged. I had a wonderful time."

What qualifications do I need to judge?

A volunteer History Fair judge should have an interest in history, a commitment to support student work, and the willingness to give constructive feedback. We can assign you to the category that best suits you:  the ability to read text and images in mini-museum exhibit or website, or the ability to listen to a performance or documentary, or to read a research paper. 

Our diverse pool of volunteer judges include teachers, retired and active business persons, non-profit organization staff, graduate students, professors, and parents.

Do I need to attend a separate orientation?

We orient you on the day you register to judge—there is no separate orientation.  If you wish to preview the orientation, you may view materials on the History Fair website:

What is the judging process?Judging w students

(1) Judges check-in and receive the orientation; each volunteer is assigned a partner and projects to judge (2) judges then evaluate projects and interview students; (3) they confer with partner and write final evaluations.  In most cases, the entire judging process takes four hours.

May I bring a friend to judge too?

Yes!  However, we do not assign friends/spouses to judge together as it unconsciously blurs the evaluations and therefore can hurt students who are our main concern.  We ask that you respect the assignment given to you, and consider that you and your friend will have twice as much to share when you meet up again after judging your projects!

How does the competition work?

The student projects evaluated at the big events have been selected by their schools as their top projects.  Students compete to move to higher levels of competition.  High school students have first and final rounds of competition (on different dates) in order to reach the state contest; elementary school students go to a first round and then directly to the State History Fair.  There, students have the opportunity to compete to represent Illinois at the National History Day competition held at the University of Maryland.

2010 Junior FairIt appears that research papers and websites are judged during the week.  How do these contests differ from the big events?

The biggest difference is that judges do not interview students.  They still are assigned a certain number of student projects to evaluate and then confer with their judge partner before writing final evaluations.  For websites, projects are judged in cyberspace and judge partners hold their discussion over the phone/Skype/GoogleChat. 

Where does judging take place?

Every event takes place at different locations in the Chicago area:  Niles North High School in Skokie, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago near the White Sox stadium, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Lane Tech High School, and the Newberry Library...and cyberspace!

Will there be food?

Since most judging events take place in a four-hour time frame, we provide snacks, coffee, water, sodas.

What are the parking arrangements if I am not taking public transportation?

Parking is available at every location.  Unfortunately, most venues are not set-up for free parking, so we will tell you how much the parking will cost when we send your confirmation.

Judge Student InterviewsWhat if I cannot come to the date(s) I signed up to judge?

Please give us as much notice as possible.  Dramatically different judge attendance affects the quality of the day for your fellow volunteers as well as the students: we are serious when we say, “Every judge counts because every student counts."  Please sign up for the day(s) you will commit to judging  rather than to the days in which you may be available.

How are the winners selected?

Approximately the top third of the projects from each contest will advance to the next level.

How do I find out which projects have advanced?

The History Fair website posts the advancing projects for each competition level.