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The 52nd National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium returns to Washington DC

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One of several prestigious national science competitions, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) offers unique opportunities for students to present original research to panels of expert judges and potentially win scholarships amounting to thousands of dollars.

And once again, regional program directors for the Symposium are putting out calls for outstanding high school research papers.

This year, the 52nd National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium will return to Washington, D.C., just in time for the cherry blossoms—April 23-27.

And in addition to competing for top awards, regional delegates will be invited to present their research in poster sessions held on Friday, April 25, at the 3rd USA Science and & Engineering Festival, sponsored by Lockheed Martin at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

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.

“We will accept applications until January 31, 2014,” said Dr. Thomas DeVore, the regional administrator for the Virginia JSHS. “Interested students can email me (devoretc@jmu.edu) to request information or email me an abstract. A student is considered to have applied once I receive the abstract.”

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 seven general categories including:

  • Environmental science (pollution and impact upon ecosystems, environmental management, bioremediation, climatology, weather)
  • Engineering, technology (including renewable energies, robotics)
  • Physical sciences (physics, computational astronomy, theoretical mathematics)
  • Chemistry (including chemistry—physical, organic, inorganic; earth science—geochemistry, materials science, alternative fuels)
  • Life sciences (general biology—animal sciences, plant sciences, ecology, cellular and molecular biology, genetics, immunology, biochemistry)
  • 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, and an opportunity 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 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.

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