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D.C. Courts Engage Students in History Tournament

By Jeffery Leon

October 28, 2019

History Plunge

More than 60 D.C. elementary school students enjoyed an exciting, innovative lesson on U.S. history and civics at the first-ever HistoryPlunge tournament on October 3. The event, hosted by the D.C. Court of Appeals at its Historic Courthouse, debuted the new HistoryPlunge game, a team-based competition that teaches over 4,000 facts of U.S. history from 1492 to the present day, challenging players to think critically and creatively through experiential and collaborative learning. 

Led by court staff, the tournament featured D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby as master of ceremonies. She welcomed students to the court, talked about the court’s duties, and asked about the qualities of good judges and students. 

“The goal is to get kids excited about U.S. history through a fun variety of games and, at the same time, get them to develop a foundational knowledge,” says attorney Alan Fishel. “It’s not just learning one little fact or two but learning hundreds of facts about U.S. history and civics that can lay the foundation for them to learn more.” 

Fishel, a partner at Arent Fox LLP, launched its sister game, GeoPlunge, in 2004. Created to address knowledge gaps for elementary and middle school students, GeoPlunge caught on for its variety of game choices, from trivia to racing and strategy games, and collaborative play. iLearningPlunge, the nonprofit organization behind both games, collaborated with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to create HistoryPlunge. 

“The students got a really big kick out of seeing [not only] all that lawyers and judges can do, but [also] all the other roles and professions that make the court system work well,” says Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby. 

The National Portrait Gallery will host the first HistoryPlunge tournament on November 19 for elementary, middle school, and high school students.