AITKIN -- Breanna Storlie's documentary on Gandhi has already won local, regional and state competitions for National History Day.
But she's still not done with the project.
Breanna, a sixth-grader at Rippleside Elementary in Aitkin, will attend National History Day next month at the University of Maryland with her mother, Karen, and the local event organizer, Darlene Munneke. She is one of 47 students who will represent Minnesota during the competition June 14-19.
She will make a few tweaks in the narration. After getting a critique from a Gandhi expert at the University of Minnesota, she learned she had been mispronouncing some Indian words.
Karen Storlie noted that the Indian language doesn't use accents the way English does.
Breanna's presentation, "Gandhi and the Salt Satyagraha" (meaning "truth force"), is a 10-minute video documentary. But the work Breanna put into the project clocks in at months. She started the project in December by researching on the Internet and the local library. In constructing the documentary, she wrote the narration first, then found photos from books and clips from videos to go with the words.
The documentary was assembled using new Adobe Premiere software at Aitkin High School. Breanna, 11, said she learned the editing software quickly.
"It was nice to be able to cut out the parts where I made mistakes or sneezed," she said.
Breanna decided to feature Gandhi after learning about him in a class last year, but even as she was assembling the documentary to teach others, she was learning about the Indian freedom activist herself.
"It's cool that he got his way without violence," Breanna said.
The project became more fascinating the longer she worked on it.
"It started out as something I had to do, but then it became more interesting," Breanna said. "People think of history as boring, but History Day makes it exciting."
And she learned about the software.
Karen Storlie recalls that Breanna spent an entire day printing screens one by one to transfer them from PowerPoint to Adobe Premiere. They discovered too late that there was a method to transfer them all at once.
Breanna said one of the best aspects of the project was that there was no word limit. In fifth grade, she did a paper on penicillin and found it challenging to meet the 500-word limit.
Last year, she worked with a partner, but this year she worked alone.
"It was fun to do it by myself," Breanna said. "It makes you feel like you did something only an adult can make."
Although Breanna said her favorite subject is math, not history, she is looking forward to seeing the sights when she tours Washington, D.C., as part of the National History Day trip. She is looking forward to getting to know her Minnesota teammates better. The entire group plans to dress alike so they can pick each other out of the crowd.
"And it would be cool to meet someone from Hawaii or Alaska," Breanna said.
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