Each fall, regional program directors for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS) put out calls for high school research papers. One of several prestigious national competitions, the JSHS offers unique opportunities for students to present original research to panels of expert judges and potentially win college scholarships amounting to thousands of dollars.
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 12,000 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.
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. DC students in high schools not already participating at Georgetown may still be eligible for consideration by Virginia or Maryland.
The competition requires an original research project on a topic in one of six general categories including:
- Environmental science including earth and space science
- Physical sciences including chemistry, physics and astronomy
- Life sciences
- Medicine and health; behavioral and social sciences
- Mathematics and computer science
Work may be part of a class project, a summer research project, or a science fair entry.
And the rewards are huge. Regional finalists receive scholarships, an expense-paid trip to the National JSHS, which is in San Diego this year, and an opportunity to compete for additional scholarships up to $12,000. Six 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 Junior Science and Humanities Symposia 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.
For more information and participation guidelines, visit the JSHS website. Links to regional competitions and application materials may be found on the contacts page.