Bradley Sweeney (center) visits with Rep. Christine Watkins

“Utah History Day on the Hill” Showcases Young Historians

By Dr. Wendy Rex-Atzet, State Coordinator, Utah History Day

Each year during the legislative session, the Division of State History hosts Utah History Day on the Hill at the State Capitol. 

At this event, History Day students fill the Capitol Rotunda with displays of their exhibits, documentaries, websites, performances and papers.  Twenty-five students came from across the state to showcase their projects and talk about their work with lawmakers and the public. They represent diverse communities all over the state, from Tremonton and Logan to Price and Beaver, and across the Wasatch Front.  And they bring some of Utah’s top History Day projects to the Capitol.

This year’s wide-ranging projects included:

  • Henrietta Lacks
  • Kindertransport
  • Ghost Army
  • East Los Angeles Walkouts
  • Glen Canyon Dam
  • Communist China
  • India’s Struggle for Independence
  • Alan Turing
  • Gettysburg
  • Transcontinental Railroad
  • And more

Bradley Sweeney, a seventh grader from Price, visited with guests throughout the day, including Representative Christine Watkins and Senator David Hinkins.  He enjoys talking about his research and sharing his own sense of discovery through history.

“I created a History Day website that explores the triumphs and tragedies of the US Space Shuttle program. While searching through documentaries, books, websites, and many other sources, I have learned more about the Space Shuttle and space exploration than I ever could have imagined. As I continued to research my topic, I really began to enjoy discovering new ideas and information I didn’t previously know. It was really addicting.

I contacted NASA to try to get an interview. I was able to interview a NASA engineer named Susan Schuh. She is the Operational Habitability Team Lead at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and works directly with the ISS Flight Crew. She thoughtfully answered my questions. This interview gave me great insight into the International Space Station and the shuttles’ contribution to its existence and continued success today. I am so grateful for this interview and the opportunity to interview someone who interacts with astronauts on a daily basis.”

Bradley Sweeney discusses his project with Senator David Hinkins.

Roughly 7,000 Utah students participate in Utah’s National History Day program each year.  Of these, 500 compete at our State Contest in April, and 60 will advance to the National History Day Contest, held in Washington, D.C., each June.

Top students will spend hundreds of hours doing research, analyzing primary sources, then creating unique final projects to present their findings. Through NHD they learn history by doing history, building skills that will serve them through school, college, and career. 

Learn more and get involved in Utah’s National History Day program!