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History Day held in Carroll

For 12-year-old Nolan Penn, not everything is black and white.

The Hampstead resident set out to uncover why there is a discrepancy in the amount of white and black athletes in Major League Baseball.

The idea was sparked after Nolan learned that his father knew someone who played in the Negro Leagues, the United States professional baseball leagues that was comprised of mostly black players before the color barrier in baseball was broken.

After months of research, interviews and filming, Nolan created "The Jackie Robinson Effect."

The documentary won first place in the middle school documentary category Saturday at the Carroll County History Day at Winters Mill High School.

The 10-minute film detailed that while Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1945, the amount of black athletes suddenly dropped in 1975, Nolan said.

The decline in black baseball players stems from the lack of little leagues in inner cities, Nolan said.

"The Jackie Robinson Effect" won first place over seven other entries, which topics included The Salem Witch Hunt, Women & Children during the Industrial Revolution, Rock and Roll, Changing America, and How DNA is Used to Help Solve Cold Cases.

The middle school documentary category was one of the hardest to choose a winner from, said Sarah Gallagher, one of the judges and a social studies teacher at Sykesville Middle School.

Nolan said that he didn't think he would win and was embarrassed when he was standing on stage and heard his name called.

More than 50 students entered their projects into Saturday's district-level competition. That number is up from 19 participants at last year's history day.

The theme for the projects was "Revolution, Reaction and Reform," and students created documentaries, exhibits, papers and websites.

The competition was open to any middle-and high-school age students in the county, according to Beth Brown, supervisor of social studies for Carroll County Public Schools.

Competitions are held throughout the state and winners of the district levels move on to compete in the state-wide competition in April, said Judy Dobbs, program officer of Maryland Humanities Council.

The idea behind History Day is for the students to do in-depth research on a topic of that interests them, and become civically engaged and actively involved in their communities, Dobbs said.

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