SYSK: Teacher uses contest to get students excited about history - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: Teacher uses contest to get students excited about history

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Waterloo West High social studies teacher Tom Yuska knows it isn't always easy to get students excited about studying the constitution.

That's why more than 20 year ago, he started using the "Know Your Constitution" contest as a teaching tool in his classes.

"It's used as a supplemental activity for kids to learn and study the constitution. It's a fun activity, but it also challenges them," Tom Yuska said.

"Know Your Constitution" is sponsored by the Iowa Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division.

For about three weeks, students study the constitution and then complete a 50 question exam and write an essay based on a fictional, legal scenario.

Each year, between 1000 and 2000 students across Iowa enter the contest. The top 100 students get invited to a luncheon in Des Moines.

"Out of the top 100, five are chosen to go on a trip to Washington, D.C., which I've had three students who were fortunate to be chosen for that," Yuska said.

No Washington winners this year, but five students Yuska's freshman history class got invited to Des Moines.

Those students are: Rage Beattie, Riley Rodemaker, Tierney Blinn, Zackery Thune and Travis Webb.

"That's the most I've ever had. I've always had at least one or two winners, but for five to be chosen speaks overwhelmingly on how well their tests were and how well their essays were," teacher Tom Yuska said.

With the essays, there are no clear cut answers, it's how well the student argues his or her case.

"I was already interested in government and politics, but this taught me a lot about the constitution itself," student Travis Webb said.

"I think it's important for students and adults to know about the constitution. I think it provides a better understand for our government, and I think it's important for people to be familiar with government and how things work. Rather than sitting back and complaining, why not actively do something?" student Riley Rodemaker said.

Tom Yuska hopes whether or not his students are interested in government or politics, they at least walk away with a better understanding of our country's foundation.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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