Name: David Malamud
School: Thomas S. Wootton High School
Accomplishment: Won the best Senior Individual Documentary category at the competition.
This year, the competition's theme was "Debate & Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, Consequences."
Malamud produced a documentary video that posed the question: "Was it right to drop the atom bomb?" It examines the moral issues raised by the United States's use of the atomic bomb on Japan during World War II.
Key to Awesomeness: "I did it not to choose a side but to give people the needed information so they could make an informed decision," Malamud, a Wootton High freshman, said of his decision to take on one of the great moral questions of the 20th century.
"Many of the other debates showed a side or promoted a side," he said of other entries in the documentary category. While the topics of other entries—such as a documentary on the landmark school segregation case Brown v. Board of Education—had a side that was clearly in the right, "This doesn't have an answer," Malamud said. "Because there is no easy way. You have to appreciate all the different things that were going on at the time."
Malamud's project presented arguments in favor of using the bomb: An invasion of Japan could have cost more lives—both American and Japanese—than claimed by the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And it presented arguments against using the bomb, namely, the utter devastation unleashed on innocent Japanese citizens.
The nine-minute-long documentary includes photos of the devastation accompanied by music and a quote from an eyewitness to the bombing of Hiroshima.
Music was important to Malamud, who has been playing violin seriously for the past two years.
"Music can be very powerful at helping to convey emotions," he said.
He used "Taps" in the background when discussing American lives lost and a Buddhist mantra that expresses remorse when discussing Japanese lives lost.
Malamud, who used Adobe Premiere software to edit the project, said he decided to create a documentary because he'd never done it before.
"I thought it'd be challenging and very rewarding in the end," he said.
As a county winner, Malamud's documentary moves on to the Maryland History Day state competition on April 30 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
He credited a passion for history and an assist from his father for the project's success.
"My dad is a huge Einstein buff. And one night at the dinner table he said that Einstein regretted the bomb. And I said, 'Well, wouldn't that make a great History Day idea?'" Malamud said.