February 14, 2013 | Volume 43, No. 6

Stigen tops at local History Day

Eighth-grader Jordan Stigen’s computer-based documentary “Pliable Plastics Change the World,” was overall winner in the local competition of the National History Day contest. The contest theme was “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas and Events.”

Stigen, 14, said the project opened her eyes about the variety of products containing plastic. “It’s in everything. It helps make all of the new types of materials we use.”

Because of their use in computers and other electronics, plastics also have had a big impact on the communication age, Stigen said.

Stigen said her favorite plastic is celluloid, one of the first types of plastics invented. It was used as a substitute for ivory in the manufacture of billiard balls. It led to development of other plastics, she said.

Classmate Jonathan Shaw, 13, placed first in the individual website category for his exhibit, “Building America By Rail,” which used historic and modern photos.

A railroad buff, Shaw said the development of the transcontinental railroad was a turning point for commerce in the United States, reducing the time required to move products across the country to about a week instead of the three months required to sail freight around South America.

It also allowed merchants to move goods to markets more quickly, Shaw said.

Shaw has ridden on about 100 different railroads and said his career goal is to design eco-friendly trains and help preserve historic ones.

Elizabeth Shaw, Jonathan’s mom, said this year’s theme couldn’t have been more perfect for her son. “When he gets to plan our trips, it’s always train-related.”

Longtime resident Carol Waldo said her grandson Seth got to tap into some family relics, including gold pans from the Porcupine and a shovel from Juneau’s AJ mine for his exhibit, “Klondike’s Gold Fever.”

Seth fashioned four boxes to create a sluice device, including using materials that would have been used by 19th-century gold seekers: alder limbs, burlap bags, copper bands and scrap lumber.

The gold rush was a turning point in the history of the Territory of Alaska, Waldo said. “It brought 100,000 people to Alaska. They built towns and brought things that had never been here before.”

The 24 entries submitted by seventh and eighth-graders included 12 websites, 10 exhibits and two movies.

Awards included:

Overall Top Prize: Jordan Stigen, “Pliable Plastics Change the World”; Individual Exhibit: 1) Madeline Andriesen, “Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Vital Role in the Medieval World,” 2) Seth Waldo, “Klondike’s Gold Fever,” 3) Ketch Jacobson, “Cooking Stirred Human Evolution”; Group Website: 1) Olivia Wing and Bozhi Sebens, “Caring for the World’s Children,” 2) Mikayla Kauffman and Jacob Stigen, “Disney’s Reformation of Animation,” 3) Allee Hart and Austin Davis, “The Dream Came to Life”; Individual Website: 1) Jonathan Shaw, “Building America by Rail”; Group Documentary: Kayla Yeoman and Allison Stuart, “All You Need Is The Beatles”; Judges’ Appreciation: Nicholos Wilde, “The Devil’s Rope”; Judges’ Recognition of Local History: Dylan Swinton and Marty Fowler, “The Brotherhood of Man,” Tulsi Zahnow and Makayla Crager, “The Little Ferry that Could.”