University Relations and Communications

Students from across Montana compete in National History Day at MSU Billings this weekend

March 29, 2011



Dr. Tom Rust, Department of History, 657-2891
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


Lewis and Clark expert Stephanie Ambrose Tubb to be keynote speaker


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — More than 160 young historians from across Montana will converge on Billings this weekend to showcase their research of important events and people.


The state contest for Montana National History Day will be held Saturday, April 2 in the College of Education on the Montana State University Billings campus. The contest, awards ceremony and exhibits are open to viewing by the public. Admission is free.


This year over 162 students from schools across Montana will participate by displaying the products of their research, which was done for much of the first part of this school year. Students research a project of their choice and will present their results as a type of museum exhibit, documentary, a website, a dramatic performance, or a traditional paper. 


The contest is open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. The awards ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in Room 401 of the College of Education Building. The keynote speaker this year will be Stephanie Ambrose Tubbs, researcher and president of the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation. She is also the daughter of late historian and bestselling author Stephen Ambrose.


Stephanie Ambroserecently oversaw the publication of “The Lewis and Clark Companion: An Encyclopedic Guide to the Voyage of Discovery” with author Clay Jenkinson. The book chronicles little known aspects of the famous Lewis and Clark journey, as well as the entire cast of characters and most beloved campsites.


Coordinated by the History Department at MSU Billings for the past three years, National History Day has seen growing interest from schools around Montana. And recently, a study shows that students who participate in the program are better students.


A recent independent study has shown that students who participate in the National History Day (NHD) educational program perform better on high-stakes tests, are better writers, more confident and capable researchers, and have a more mature perspective on current events and civic engagement than their peers, according to the first independent national evaluation of the widely used curricular program. Participants also show a greater ability to collaborate with peers, manage their time and persevere – all skills employers say are lacking in today’s workforce.


Dr. Tom Rust, an award-winning history professor at MSU Billings, has coordinated the National History Day program with support from the Montana Association of REALTORS and the Montana State Historical Society. Rust puts together the regional and state-level competitions with help of some top-level college students and provides support for teachers and students throughout the school year.


“We’ve known about the about the impact of this program for years,” said Rust. “This study is exciting since it provides scientific data to confirm it. It is especially exciting to see that a project-based program that focuses on history improves students’ scores on standardized test in other subjects like English and math.”


This year, more than 1,000 students from 11 schools and the home school community took part in the program. Top projects at local schools have moved on to the state contest at MSU Billings this weekend.


For more information on the program or this weekend’s contest, contact Rust at 657-2891.