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Why Your Student Should Join the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

What is the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium?

One of the best things that a high school student can do during their free time is to take part in an engaging and exciting extracurricular activity. One such extracurricular that thousands of students take part in each year is the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS) Program is a tri-service (United States Army, Navy, and Air Force) sponsored STEM competition that promotes novel experimentation and research in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the high school level.

It is geared towards encouraging students to pursue these faculties and publicly recognizes students for their outstanding achievement. The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is geared towards widening the pool of inquisitive and scientific minds who will lead the United States into the next generation of research and discovery. They do this by not only rewarding excellence but also by allowing talented students and their teachers to meet, share ideas, and build relationships at affiliated symposia.

Each year, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium’s regional and national competitions are held throughout the school year and host more than 8,000 total high school students throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, as well as Department of Defense schools of Europe and the Pacific Rim. In order to compete in the highly prestigious national symposium each year, students must first participate in the regional symposia.

Students pose for a picture for the competition

How to register for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

If you or your student is interested in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS), it is quite easy to register. Simply, all participants in the National JSHS must register through the official National JSHS registration website. Participants include all of the following:

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • DoD/STEM professionals – invited officials
  • Judges
  • Speakers
  • Presenters
  • National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Staff
  • Guests – family members and friends

How Junior Science and Humanities Symposium works

Now that you know how easy it is to register for the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, you are probably interested in learning more about what is actually expected of the students who take part each and every year.

Simply, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is broken down into two major sections, the Oral Presentation, and the Poster Presentation. Both presentations have their own set of rules and guidelines that students will have to follow in order to qualify for the competition.

In order to advance to the national level from the regional level, students must finish in the top two scores within their region. It is highly competitive and highly impressive when a student is able to advance to the national level. For that reason, it is fantastic to make sure students mention that they advanced to the national level on any college applications they write in the future. It is extracurriculars such as these, and distinctions such as advancing to the national level, that college admission officers at the most prestigious universities in the world love to learn about and see.

Compete in the Junior Science

Oral Presentation

But back to the National Symposia. As mentioned, the top two finalists from each regional symposium get the chance to present their research in the oral session to compete for undergraduate tuition scholarships from the involved wings of the United States military.

The presentations are separated into the categories of competition (we’ll break these down in a little bit), and awards are given to students in each category. Students are of course given ample time to prepare for their presentation and will be asked to sign up for a specific category of competition when they originally register. From there, selections will be reviews by the National Judging Committee of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

When it comes to the Oral Presentation, all students are expected to prepare the following items:

  • Research paper
  • Abstract
  • Time oral presentation

Students then get the chance to present their research in oral session to a panel of judges, as well as their peers and other guests (family and friends) that they make have invited to the symposium. From there, the judges evaluate the presentations on a set of criteria and rank them accordingly.

There are two things that students who are participating should be aware of. The first one is that the research presentation is now allowed to exceed 12 minutes per student. After their 12 minute presentation, there is also a maximum of six minutes of questions. During each student’s presentation, a session moderator will help the student speaker maintain that strict schedule as well as help the student field questions from the audience.

Each student will get a signal when they have reached the 10-minute mark of their oral presentation, and at the 12-minute mark, they must stop the presentation even if they have not yet finished. For that reason, it is the student’s responsibility to find a way to effectively get out all of the information they must in the time allotted. It is a practice not only in research and presentation but time management and efficiency as well.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the question session is also judged by the judges, so it is best for the presenter to re-iterate the question before they answer it, that way the audience (and the judges0 will be able to understand the entire dialogue, both question and answer.

The second thing that students who are participating should be aware of is that each student is allowed (and encouraged) to take advantage of audio and visual technology during their oral presentation. Available audio-visual equipment in each session at the National Symposium includes an LCD projector, a projector screen, and a laser pointer in order to help audience members follow along.

On top of that, PC-based computers will be available for use in each session room and will be compatible with all Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat programs. If a student is using a Mac computer, students will be required to bring their own equipment and should plan to bring their own adapters to plug-in to the equipment that is available in the room.

One useful tip for students who do plan to use presentation slides of any kind is that each slide should be numbered. This allows students to return to a slide quickly and easily during the six-minute question period.

JSHS Hawaii Academy of Science

Poster Presentation

If a student who advances from the regional level is not taking part in the oral presentation session, they will present their projects in the poster session for cash rewards. Much like the oral presentation, poster presentations are separated into the categories of competition, and students within each category are given awards. Just like for the oral presentation, students are given ample time to prepare for their presentation and will be asked to sign up for a specific category of competition when they originally register. From there, selections will be reviews by the National Judging Committee of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

In order to qualify for the poster presentation, students must prepare the following:

  • Poster
  • Abstract
  • Statement on Outside Assistance

In the poster presentation, each student is evaluated by judges based on the poster and the presentation based on a set of criteria. The posters are then ranked accordingly. For guests of the students that are participating, they get a chance to see the posters at a different time.

Poster Displays

There are some very important things that every student must keep in mind when it comes to poster displays. These are hard-fast rules and need to be followed in order for students to qualify for the competition.

Materials for the poster must be pre-printed or handwritten and can be attached to a tri-fold board as one large sheet or in pieces of sheets. Posters for the competition must include the following and meet the following national standards:

  • Tri-fold posters are provided and will be available for students upon arrival at the National JSHS. Other materials that students will be able to use include staplers, stick pins, clips, markers, scissors, and double-sided tape. Anything that the students have printed out must fit the confines of the poster board.
  • The dimensions of the poster boards that students can use are 36 inches high and 48 inches wide.  Beyond that, the poster includes two folds with fold dimensions of 12 inches by 24 inches by 12 inches.
  • Header boards are allowed but must be larger than 10 inches high and 36 inches wide. Header boards should only contain the title of the presentation and will not be provided by the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
  • Students will place their posters on tables that are provided by the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
  • Posters are expected to be around four feet from one another.
  • The title should be at least one inch in height, that’s 72 fonts on Microsoft word. The student presenter’s name as well as the region they competed in during the regional round should also be included.
  • The poster is expected to be organized in a logical order so that judge and guests can easily follow along in the lesson in sequential order.
  • The amount of text should be kept to a minimum.
  • Judges want to see an emphasis put on graphics, tables, graphs, charts, and other forms of visual information. These items are expected to be cited on the poster board.
  • Photographs and other illustrations are allowed to be used on the poster board and should be in color.
  • Of course, no hazardous materials are allowed. Beyond that, other items that are not allowed include laptops, tablets, or other electronic devices such as smartphones. No specimens or apparatus or chemical reagents are allowed, and models are not allowed to be used during the presentation either. Only the printed material that is affixed to the poster is allowed in the presentation.
  • For a student to qualify, all materials must be prepared and poster ready before students advance to the national symposium and ready to be attached. No printers will be available for students at the National Symposium.

Competition Categories

At the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, student research presenters are organized by discipline.

The organization of the sessions at the National JSHS is based on a review of all of the abstracts and the area of research that is suggested by the student presenter. Student presenters are expected to state on the abstract the major discipline and the sub-discipline that their research is in. The major disciplines and sub-disciplines at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium are as follows:

  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Biomedical medicine, Microbiology, Cellular/Molecular Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Pharmacology, Virology
  • Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry, Materials, Alternative Fuels, Organic Chemistry (possibly in life science), Chemical Engineering, Earth Science, Geochemistry, Energy–Alternative Fuels, Material Science
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Aerospace, Aerodynamics, Electrical Engineering, Energy – Solar, Vehicle Development, Devices, Mechanical Engineering, Robotics
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Science/Engineering: Bioremediation, Ecosystems Management, Environmental engineering, Land Resource Management, Pollution, toxicity; impact upon ecosystem
  • Life Sciences
  • Developmental Biology, Plant Physiology, Population Genetics, General Biochemistry, Microbiology
  • Mathematics & Computer Science
  • Probability and Statistics, Mathematics, Computer Science – Algorithms, Databases, Networking, Computer Engineering
  • Medicine & Health/Behavioral Sciences
  • Behavioral sciences, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Disease Diagnosis and Treatment, Epidemiology, Immunology, Neuroscience, Physiology, Pathology
  • Physical Sciences
  • Astronomy, Physics-theoretical, Physics-Solid state, Acoustics, Optics, Thermodynamics, Particle Physics, Quantum Physics, Nuclear; Internet of Things–network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity

Future STEM leaders gather at National Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium in Dayton

Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Conclusion

Overall, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is a challenging and engaging extracurricular that will inspire your child to learn more and get them excited about not only studying STEM-related subjects but also about potentially pursuing a career in a STEM field in the future.

When a college admissions officers look at your student’s application and see that they competed in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, there is no question that they will know that your child is not only determined to their academics and education but also that they are passionate enough to seek out ways to improve their knowledge on subjects they care about to spend ample time out of the classroom to grow.

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