History Channel Puts Citizenship To Test Online

Every year, over 500,000 people pass a test to become U.S. citizens. They must be prepared to answer 100 questions concerning civics, American history and government from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How do you think you would fare?

Starting today, you can find out by taking the online “Citizenship Quiz” from The History Channel and the National Archives and Records Administration.

As part of an affiliate and educational outreach effort, the Citizenship Quiz soft launches Feb. 5 at www.history.com/citizenshipquiz. There, visitors will discover more than 100 questions recently created by the USCIS. Users can take the test in multiple-choice form, organized under the three topics listed above, and subsequently view the answers.

NARA has provided History.com with access to vast materials, ranging from posters and political cartoons, to photos, documents, and even pages from the U.S. Constitution. Each corresponds to a quiz question answer, accompanied by a relevant description, as means to encourage deeper dives into our country’s past.

“No matter where people stand on immigration, citizenship is a key issue,” said Dr. Libby O’Connell, chief historian, senior vice president corporate outreach at A&E Television Networks. “And certainly during an election year, this is very relatable and fun way to think of citizenship.”

O’Connell anticipates the Citizenship Quiz will not only be a learning tool for those seeking citizenship, but for teachers, students and Americans interested in testing their knowledge of their homeland.

Although History has sought to enliven the site by filming short segments of “the bad answers,” O’Connell said many people will be “fooled” by their American acumen. “You’d do better than you think,” she said.

Later in the month, History will debut a virtual board game on the site. Players will stop at notable U.S. locations where they must answer correctly to continue on the path that will eventually lead them to the final landmark -- The National Archives in Washington D.C. -- where they earn their “Citizenship Certificate.’ 

The network will also push mobile content. Those who sign up at the site can receive weekly text message alerts about the latest CQ factoid. A mobile micro-site will be constructed so users can log on to the Web site from their cell phone, blackberry, or mobile device.

O’Connell said this will be History’s key affiliate promotion over the first half of 2008. The network will build exposure through on-air promos and question/answer interstitials, beginning Feb. 18, President’s Day. It also aims to generate additional awareness through advertisements in educational publications and its own Web site.

Moreover, History will furnish operators with witty, public service announcements they can tag and run on their systems.

For schools, History is sending free curriculum materials and teacher’s guides to adapt CQ to the classroom setting. A nationwide contest, starting Feb.18, invites teachers to send in essays describing how they deployed the Web site and classroom materials to create unique lesson plans; the winner receives a $2,500 grant for their school.

Citizenship questions and answers also will be incorporated within the materials the network disseminates to Cable in the Classroom over the next few months.

For its part, Cablevision Systems Corp. will incorporate a CQ category within its academic show The Challenge, which features the brightest high school students from the New York metro area engaging in a game of knock-out smarts. The program runs every Saturday and Sunday on the operator’s News 12 channel.

At this time, the plans calls for CQ to remain a Web event, O’Connell said. Previously, the network aired The Great American History Quiz in 2001.

However, in a move akin to what it has done with various Smithsonian museums, History, O’Connell said, is working toward building a related video exhibit at the National Archives.

“They [Smithsonian exhibits] have generated nice additional eyeballs for us,” she said.