Social Studies Fair Project Ideas for 8th Grade

Instructor: Anthony Cognata

Anthony has taught multiple grade levels in middle school, coached across contents, and has a master's degree in Educational Leadership.

Use these project ideas for an 8th Grade Social Studies Fair. Students deepen their understanding of Social Studies topics through the use of collaborative, engaging projects.

Why do a Social Studies Fair?

A critical part of any student's learning process is remembering facts and to also critically assess multiple pieces of information and create their own interpretation or argument of overarching themes. As such, Social Studies Fairs are unique opportunities for your students to present the information that they have learned over the course of a semester or year. The following are three different options for your students to complete a Social Studies Fair. You can have all students do one specific project, or let students choose which option they would like to complete.

Overarching Theme Presentation

With this project, you provide students with a list of themes that can be applied to all of the units the class has studied. Students should then take one chosen theme and create a PowerPoint presentation citing multiple examples from the course study to present an argument of their choosing about the theme.

Goal: Student present an argument about the significance (or insignificance) of a particular theme.

What they will need: Computer and PowerPoint access; list of historical themes to choose from; criteria for PowerPoint presentation; 3 minutes to present their argument; rubric for how you will grade their PowerPoint and their presentation of the material.

Theme/Topic Ideas: after completing a unit on the American Revolution, students could do their project on the Ideals of the Declaration of Independence and how it was or was not fulfilled within American society; after completing a unit on World War II, students could compare how the geographies of Europe and Asia presented different challenges for fighting.

Additionally, to spur their thinking, tell students that the following must be answered in their presentation:

  • What is the significance of your historical theme in our learning from this year? What specific examples can you give to support your answer?
  • Beyond our own studies this semester/year, what other examples of this theme are there from history? (Specifically you are trying to see them make connections with learning from prior years - or for them to access new learning through research.)
  • In what ways can you make a connection from this historical theme to present day?

Remind students that their grade will have two components to it - one component will be the quality of the PowerPoint itself, the second component will be how they present their information.

Note that this project should take 2-3 class periods to complete and prepare, but additional time will be needed for actual presentations. The presentations should last no longer than 3-5 minutes each.

Old School History Board and Presentation

With this project, you take a more standard 'project fair' approach and have students pick a person, event, or theme of study from your course and create a project board with additional research on the topic. This project is particularly well suited for those who are looking to challenge and practice students' researching abilities. The whole point of this project is for students to present new information on a topic. After researching their topic and creating their history board, use a class period to invite guests (parents, grandparents, administration, fellow teachers) to a fair in your room where students display their history boards and explain them to the visitors as they walk around the classroom.

Goal: Students research new information on a previously learned about topic - this could be about a specific historical figure, an event, or a larger theme that they have studied in your class.

Theme/Topic Ideas: The Role of Women in the Antebellum South; Similarities Between the World Religions

What they will need: project boards; access to a library and/or computers for research; printer access; scissors, glue, colored paper.

Students should be able to answer the following through their project boards:

  • What is the larger significance of this topic? Why does it matter to people living in the 2000's?
  • What are the three most important lessons people should learn from your topic?

Note that this project should take 2-3 class periods to complete, but additional time will be needed for actual presentations. The presentations should last no longer than 3-5 minutes each.

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