We the People...the Citizen and the Constitution is a national competition created in 1986 by the United States Department of Education, as part of an initiative to strengthen civic education.

What the competiton is over:

The actual material tested in the competition consists of six units of three questions each. Each unit covers a different aspect of the Constitution, such as political philosophy, amendments, etc. Within each unit, the three questions break down each unit into sub-groups. An example unit would be "What factors influenced the writing of the constitution?", with sub-questions being "How did the framers look to preserve their personal interests?", "How did ideas of the Reformation influence the constitution?", and "What type of message was the United States looking to send to Britain?".


Teams consist of 12-36 students, each from the the same Government class. Students cannot participate in this if they have participated before. Teams generally form sub-teams of two to six, each focusing on a particular unit. Three seperate competitions are held at local, state, and national levels. A panel of three judges, each scoring the same unit for all teams, asks one question from each unit chosen at random in the local and state levels, and all three (still chosen in random order) at the national finals level. The responding group consists of the two to six focusing on each unit. After each question is asked by the judges, a three and one-half minute prepared essay is given, followed by a six minute Q&A session. Scoring is based on a 1-10 scale in the categories of participation, connection to the constitution, use of specific examples, and overall holistic impression. The team score is the combined total of all points earned in each of the six units. The team with the highest score is the winner. Winners at each level are allowed to advance to the next level of competition. There is no incentive (such as scholarship money) to win at the national competition, other than pride.

Why would I want to do this?

Either you like the Constitution, or you want a free, high-class vacation to Washington D.C., where the national finals are held. Actually, the cost of the trip depends on the number of Lawyer-related sponsors you have in your state. But generally the trip is somewhere between free and 200 dollars, quite inexpensive for six days in D.C. As for the quality of the trip, the hotel can be either average or magnificent, depending on whether you draw the Marriott or Holiday Inn(Different states stay in different hotels). Transportation is provided to all the cool monuments and museums by tour bus. The drivers tend to be friendly and knowledgeable. The actual competition only takes up a small fraction of the time spent in the city, about nine hours out of the six days spent. But the best thing about the trip is the series of dances held for competitors, giving ample opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex.

Overall, "We the People" is a fairly worthwhile experience. If you come from a state where the competition is not popular, such as Iowa, you can net yourself a cheap trip to a nice city, and get a few days off of school.

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