Jan 28, 2015

The 2015 National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium is looking for outstanding high school researchers

One of a handful of really prestigious national science competitions, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) is once again offering unique opportunities for students to present original research to panels of expert judges and potentially win thousands of dollars in scholarships.
And over the next few weeks, regional program directors for the Symposium will be putting out calls for outstanding high school research papers in seven 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 Morgan State University. 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.

“We will be accepting applications until January 31, 2015,” said Dr. Thomas DeVore, the regional administrator for the Virginia JSHS. “Interested students can email me (
devoretc@jmu.edu) to request information or send an abstract.  A student is considered to have applied once I receive the abstract.”
The competition requires an original research project on a topic in one of the following general categories:
  • Environmental Science
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Chemistry
  • Life Sciences
  • Medicine and Health/Behavioral; Molecular/Cellular
  • Math and Computer Science, Computer Engineering
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. Seven big winners at the national event win expense-paid trips to the London International Youth Science Forum.

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.

“I wouldn't be where I am in my career today if it were not for JSHS,” said Cyrena-Marie Briede, who is a former Director of Summit Operations at the Mount Washington Observatory and one of the 2001 Virginia JSHS winners.  “My high school science projects became my life, my career. The hands on experience with the scientific process, as well as presenting your findings to others, really gives you an advantage in college and the real world.”

For more information and participation guidelines, visit the JSHS website. Links to regional competitions and application materials may be found on the contacts page.

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