Sophomores research, ‘develop historical interest’ in inquiry project


Photo credit: Amelia Stone

Sydney Raucher ’21 uses her computer and library materials to work on her history project. The project assigned to the sophomore class was created out of a hope to instill a love for history.

Tenth-grade history teacher Nick Graham said that “developing a broader interest and curiosity” was his goal for the historical inquiry project he assigned to the sophomore class.

Graham asked his students to write a paper about any historical concept they were interested in, so long as it took place outside of the United States in the 20th century. Students could choose their own topic or use a list of suggested topics drafted by Graham.

“I think that the project is going to set [the sophomores] up for independent… investigation,” Graham said. “The skills, in terms of identifying sources and analyzing and using sources in an essay that they have chosen…is fairly much how you would go about any kind of inquiry… in this discipline.”

Sophomore Gabriela Ayala, who studied the causes of the Russian revolution, said she enjoyed the “informative” research process.

“I’ve always been interested in Russian history,” Ayala said. “Everything is very interconnected… the Russian revolution, the reasons why it happened, how World War One affected most of the causes of it.”

Fellow sophomore Maya Sears, who studied Nelson Mandela and the South African apartheid, shared how she chose her project and what she learned.

“I wanted to do something related to black culture,” Sears said. “A lot of stuff… they don’t put in the media… there was a lot of things that they didn’t tell us about what Nelson Mandela did, and his imprisonment was unjust.”

Graham said that one of his goals through this project was to instill a greater curiosity for history amongst the sophomore class.

“One of the things I said to [my students] in the beginning, is I said ‘Look, you’ve got to do something that you are very, very passionate and interested in doing. I can’t choose it for you,’” Graham said. “The idea is… that they develop… not just the skills and the know-how about how to go about investigating and researching, but also a real fondness for whatever topic it is that you have chosen.”

Graham said that he has seen this goal in effect, as students reported back to him that they were passionate about their projects.

“I have seen a lot of response [to the project],” Graham said. “I’ve seen a lot of people become very enthused and…come at [topics] with new information.”

As for how the project went, Graham said that he received a “fantastic set of papers.”

“[It went] very well. I mean, obviously, there are things that next year I will look to improve… points that need to be more firmly made by me, but, on the whole, it went very, very well,” Graham said. “I had a very good time. It was very interesting reading all of these papers, and also seeing people developing their own areas of historical interest.”