The National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), one of several prestigious national science competitions, is once again offering unique opportunities for students to present original research to panels of expert judges and the potential to win thousands of dollars in scholarships.
And over the next few weeks, regional program directors for the JSHS will be issuing calls for outstanding high school research papers in eight previously-determined STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) categories.
Unlike more familiar competitions sponsored by Intel and Siemens, JSHS departs from a traditional science fair format and employs a process more similar to that used for scientific or academic conferences and publications. Students are asked to submit abstracts for consideration at a regional level. If accepted, the research is then presented at a conference or symposium.
JSHS regional and national symposia are held during the academic year and typically reach over 10,000 high school students throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and the Department of Defense Schools of Europe and the Pacific Rim. Each of 48 university-held regional symposia invites participation from secondary schools within their region.
For example, the DC area is covered by three separate regions and includes symposia held at James Madison University, Georgetown University, and the University of Maryland. It’s a complicated arrangement, but students have a fair amount of flexibility about where to submit abstracts and are not limited by residency.
Although the DC deadline for submission has passed for this year, Virginia and Maryland are still accepting abstracts. Students in local high schools not already participating at Georgetown may still be eligible for consideration by Virginia or Maryland.
According to Doreen DeVore, who helps to organize the Virginia event, the military sponsors of the JSHS are looking for greater participation from historically underrepresented students this year. To streamline applications and paperwork, Virginia is experimenting with a new registration process, which will become mandatory next year. Students who want to apply to the Virginia Junior Science and Humanities Symposium need to email Mrs. DeVore, at firstname.lastname@example.org to get applications, which are due by January 31, 2016.
To compete, students must present original research on a topic in one of the following general categories:
- Environmental Science
- Biomedical Sciences; Molecular/cellular
- Life Sciences
- Medicine & Health/Behavioral sciences
- Engineering and Technology
- Math and Computer Science, Computer Engineering
- Physical sciences, including Physics, Astronomy, Internet of Things
- Chemistry, including physical chemistry, materials science, alternative fuels, geochemistry
Work may be part of a class project, a summer research project, or a science fair entry.
And the prizes are huge. Regional finalists receive scholarships, expense-paid trips to the National JSHS, and opportunities to compete for additional scholarships up to $12,000.
Originated in 1958 as part of a greater effort to focus attention on the sciences and scientific research, the JSHS Program is sponsored by the US Departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force. In addition to the financial incentives, students who participate get to interact with practicing researchers and potentially have their work published.
And many of these students go on to have amazing careers launched by their participation in science competitions like the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
For more information and national participation guidelines, visit the JSHS website. Links to regional competitions and application materials may be found on the contacts page.