Now that the school year is underway, it’s time for Iowa high school students and teachers to get started on projects for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Your future selves will thank you!
If you are a high school student thinking that you would like to solve a problem, stretch yourself, and stand out – now is the time to get started on an original research project so you can present it at the Iowa Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
If you are a teacher looking for opportunities for your students to present their work to an authentic audience of experts, explore STEM careers, and build a sense of belonging, start planning for JSHS now
Top 10 Reasons to Join Us at the 2022 Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium:
The symposium is returning to the University of Iowa campus!
You’ll learn from a University of London researcher, Alice Pailhès. Alice studies free will and the illusion of control. Her presentation will present various original experiments using magic tricks, as well as their surprising results.
Travel to Cape Town, South Africa, and meet Lesley. Find out how this researcher went from being called Shark Bait to the Shark Warrior when she met an extraordinary shark named Maxine. Join Lesley for a virtual underwater dive to meet sharks! Learn about these amazing animals, the threats they face, and why we need to save our sharks.
Travel to Lisbon, Portugal, and meet Joana. She will take you out to visit her beehives! Joana is a 4th generation beekeeper, and her passion for bees began when she was seven, and her grandfather took her to an apiary. She rescues wild bee colonies!
Travel to Pompeii, Italy, to meet Roberto and go back into Roman times! Discover the ancient history and beauty of Pompeii, the famous site buried by the Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD. Learn the city’s history, from the beginning to the eruption and then to the discovery of the remains. Roberto is an archaeologist and an authorized guide of the Campania Region. He has worked as an archaeologist all around the Mediterranean Sea.
After a world tour, come home to Iowa and meet some local STEM experts.
Meet biochemist Dr. Maxwell J. Holle. Maxwell evaluates unique antimicrobials used to kill the harmful bacteria in cheese! These chemical substances can improve cheese safety by killing and hindering the growth of the bacteria that cause the illness so that everyone can eat them. He grew up in Oskaloosa, IA, and now he is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa.
Walkthrough a patient case with a Carver College of Medicine medical student and work together to diagnose a patient. Ask any questions you have about being a medical student and becoming a doctor!
Meet a University of Iowa rocket scientist and an engineer on NASA rocket and satellite missions. Suman Sherwani has an engineering degree from the University of Iowa and went to rocket school in Norway. Yep, rocket school is a thing! Join this Q & A session to get a backstage pass to engineering school, landing a dream internship, going to an international rocket school, and working on NASA missions.
You will also have an opportunity to learn from high school students conducting their own original research!
Interested in doing research, but worried about the costs? Looking for an outlet to share your ideas, that may lead to college scholarships? We’ve rounded up a helpful list of funding sources and prizes for you!
Iowa students who conduct research related to pigs, pork, pig production, swine care, or in a related subject area will be eligible to receive a $200 scholarship for their project from the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. This scholarship can assist in the development of a project, be used to purchase supplies to conduct or present research, or for travel to one of Iowa’s science competitions like the Iowa Junior Science and Humanities Symposium! The deadline for application is February 1, 2020.
For students seeking creative solutions to environmental problems, check out the International Young Eco-Hero Award. This award is offered by Action for Nature and recognizes students between the ages of 8 and 16 for environmental action. Students can receive up to a $500 cash prize for creative and independent environmental research projects. The deadline for application is February 28, 2020.
The Regeneron Science Talent Search is one of the oldest national science competitions for high school seniors. To enter, students complete an online application that includes a research manuscript describing their original research. Around 2,000 students submit the application each year with 300 of them becoming scholars receiving $2,000 each; each of the scholars’ schools receive $2,000 as well. The top 40 scholars are selected to travel to Washington D.C. to present their research and compete for one of the top ten awards ranging from $40,000 – $250,000. The deadline for application has passed for this fall but be sure to check them out next year! (And consider submitting a project to the Iowa Junior Science and Humanities Symposium to prepare for next year’s Talent Search competition.)
The Davidson Fellows Scholarship has been named one of the ten biggest scholarships in the world and is available to extraordinary young people 18 and under, who have completed a significant piece of work. The Davidson Institute awards scholarships in categories of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Literature, Music, Philosophy and Outside the Box. The Davidson Institute denotes on their website that this award is for students whose projects are at, or close to, the college graduate level with a depth of knowledge in their particular area of study and not geared toward students at the novice level. Applying to this scholarship is worth the time as the winners are awarded $50,000, $25,000, or $10,000 and are honored with a trip to Washington D.C. for some congressional meetings and a special reception. The deadline for application is February 12.
Even though it is not a requirement for an applicant to conduct high school research for the National Institutes of Health NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program, we thought this would be of some interest to students who love research. This scholarship program offers up to $20,000 per year in aid and summer research training at the NIH! High school students must be in the top 5% of their class, from a disadvantaged background, and enrolled in a University committed to a career in biomedical, behavioral, or social science – health related research.
Getting started can sometimes be the most challenging part of a new project. You have too many ideas. You have no ideas. Your ideas are too big. Your ideas are too small. Don’t panic, our Junior Science & Humanities (JSHS) team has got your back! We are starting a series of blog posts to help you get your original research off the ground.
An original research project is just that: original. That means no one
has investigated the same question you are interested in learning more about in
the same way that you are planning to tackle it. Reading about a topic that
interests you is also a great way to narrow down your ideas (if you have too
many), come up with an idea (if you are stuck and don’t yet have an idea), or
right-size your project (if your ideas seem too big or too small).
Our advice is to avoid doing a general internet search for your topic.
You know where that will end up— cat videos.
Instead, search reputable open access journals. They publish primary research articles that you can read for free.
Here is a list of trusted open access sources:
Elsevier, a global information analytics business, has made available several open access journals to the public through ScienceDirect. Here, you can browse all their open access journals by name or narrow the search by selecting a topical area of interest. Not all the journals on ScienceDirect are open access. However, the search capabilities allow you to select only journals that are open access, or even journals that may not be completely open access but contain some open-access articles.
Directory of Open Access Journals provides almost 14,000 open access peer-reviewed journals from 130 countries. The topics covered in this directory range from agriculture to technology, including anthropology, medicine, and social sciences. Articles and journals on DOAJ are searchable via key terms or are browsable by subject.
Nature Communications and Scientific Reports are open access research journals that publish major science research that doesn’t quite have the impact to be published in the major science research journal, Nature. The articles are high quality and have gone through stringent peer-review.
Public Library of Science (PLOS) is a mega journal that started with PLOS One, the world’s largest multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal. PLOS Journals are free to search, access, and redistribute.
Sage Open is an open access journal published by Sage publishers that is dedicated to the social sciences.
SpringerOpen is a place where one can search and access any of Springer’s 200+ open access journals. Springer journals use high-level peer-review practices to provide a trusted source of primary research.
Wiley, a large publishing network that has been around for over 200 years, provides a listing of open access journals that they publish. These journals can be browsed by the journal name or by subject area.
Check out this new browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox that finds open access versions of journal articles that would otherwise be hidden behind a paywall! The best part? It’s 100% legal and funded by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, so you can be assured it’s legitimate.
If you are
reading an open access journal that isn’t listed above, take a moment to
evaluate if the journal is trustworthy. CrossRef maintains a listing of
member journals. Members must maintain compliance to certain terms and can and
will be removed if those terms are not met. Another evaluation tool is Ulrichsweb. This directory
can tell you if a listed journal uses peer-review and more.
Next time, we’ll be discussing the structure of a research article. We’ll be sharing tips for how to quickly get the most out of an article, leaving you with time for a few more cat videos.
We look forward to learning about your research projects at JSHS!
You can create engaging learning experiences for teens by making it possible for them to conduct original research and connect with a larger scholarly community through citizen science. While collecting original data has tremendous merit, sometimes barriers to the necessary equipment or resources for effective data collection are challenging to navigate. Publicly available real-world data sets are one way to circumvent these obstacles and get teens researching—for real.
Did you know that there are more than 244,000 data sets publicly available to anyone on data.gov? This website has data from a wide variety of sources from agriculture, climate, and ecosystems, to manufacturing, energy, and finance. Looking at the available data, you and your teen might wonder how public parks might affect a neighborhood’s resilience to natural disasters. With a research question in mind, teens are ready to learn how to design their investigation and then dig into those data!
Student research doesn’t have to involve a lot of expense or fancy equipment. With nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection, students can produce high-quality original research from their bedrooms or the classroom. Publicly available data sets abound and they can be the spark that ignites a lifetime of STEM curiosity.
For more information on student research, be sure to check out our other posts on this topic!
1st place: Pooja Kasiviswanathan (Ames High School) — “Farming on Mars: potential strategies for sustainable agriculture in Martian conditions”
2nd place: Isabella Hoeger-Pinto (Iowa City West High School) — “Examination of plasma etch rate on silicon substrate with photoresist mask”
3rd place: Radha Velamuri (Valley High School) — “Involvement of the AhR in reproductive function with exposure to PCB 126”
4th place: Kayla Livesay (Van Buren Community High School) — “Accelerating plant growth to improve crop production and soil fertility: analyzing the effects of macronutrients and mycorrhizal fungi for Zea mays: Phase III”
5th place: Amara Orth (Lewis Central High School) — “What is honey? A comparison of honey from Iowa beekeepers versus national store brand honey using pH, pollen, and chemical composition analysis”
In addition to scholarships, these five students qualified to compete at the 57th Annual National JSHS in Albuquerque, New Mexico last week.
Approximately 230 high school students from all over the world attended the National JSHS to compete for scholarships and recognition in the fields of environmental science; life sciences; biomedical, cellular and molecular sciences; medicinal, behavioral and health sciences; engineering; mathematics and computer science; physics; and chemistry and material sciences.
Like the Iowa finalists, these impressive students qualified for the symposium by submitting and presenting original scientific research papers in regional symposia held at universities nationwide. Approximately 130 high school teachers, mentors, university faculty, ranking military guests and others also attended to encourage the future generation of scientists and engineers and celebrate student achievement in the sciences.
For the second consecutive year, an Iowa regional finalist placed at the national competition! Kayla Livesay (Van Buren Community High School) won second place in the Life Science division of the poster competition for her project, “Accelerating plant growth to improve crop production and soil fertility: analyzing the effects of macronutrients and mycorrhizal fungi for Zea mays: Phase III.” Congratulations to Kayla, as well as her teacher, Amanda Schiller (a former JSHS competitor herself)!
Congratulations to all who participated in both the Iowa regional and National Junior Science and Humanities Symposia! For more information on getting started with student research or the JSHS program, visit:
As a teacher, we know you have many goals for your students.
First and foremost, you are helping your students develop an understanding of
your discipline’s fundamentals. But we know that you do so much more than that!
You work to create opportunities for students to be creative and curious,
effectively identify and solve problems, think critically, set goals, make
decisions, communicate well, express confidence, and actively participate in
The goals you have for your students are abstract, so you
create actual experiences in your classroom to help students develop and
demonstrate these behaviors. But you’re busier than ever, and resources are
scarce. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to promote the many goals you
hold for them through a single project?
When you support students in conducting original research
projects, you are creating an environment for them to be curious and identify
problems that spark their interest. You are requiring that they think
critically about what questions are fruitful to ask and evaluate what can be
investigated given their constraints. You are expecting them to solve problems
that arise while designing and implementing their methods, determine how they
will collect and analyze data, generate conclusions that make sense and determine
the extent to which those conclusions are trustworthy.
When students participate in Iowa JSHS, they write scientific
papers detailing their investigations. Any high school student in the state of
Iowa can submit a research paper to Iowa JSHS at no cost. Each one is evaluated
by a panel of judges at the University of Iowa, creating an authentic audience
for whom students must develop a written product. The paper submission deadline
also creates authentic space that imposes the need for students to set
continual goals throughout their research project.
All students who submit papers are invited to attend the spring Iowa JSHS competition. The top 15 finalists are invited to deliver oral presentations to a panel of judges and a ballroom full of their teachers and peers. This differs from all other regional- or state-level science competitions, where students typically present a poster to individuals or small groups. Teachers tell us that the oral presentation component of Iowa JSHS deepens their students’ understanding of their project and helps them develop strong communication skills and confidence in their own abilities.
It’s not all business at Iowa JSHS, though. Research is a
collaborative experience, so we work to foster a sense of community. Students
in attendance have the opportunity to meet trained researchers, from
undergraduates to professors, during presentations and University lab tours.
They also have a chance to get to know other high school student researchers
through meals together, swimming in the hotel pool, and even a trivia night!
Students tell us that they value developing friendships with peers from other
districts who are also interested in STEM and research. In these ways, Iowa
JSHS invites students to actively participate in their newfound community.
Looking for ways to support your high-achieving students in math and the sciences? The Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), a prestigious national science competition, offers substantial opportunities for scholarships. At the regional competition here in Iowa City, students can win up to $2,750, and finalists can go on to win an additional $12,000 at the National JSHS in April. Last year, Iowa high school students took home a 1st place win at Nationals and more than $20,000 in scholarships!
2018 Iowa JSHS winners at the National JSHS competition
Iowa student Cheryl Blackmer won 1st place at Nationals in 2018!
To compete, Iowa high school students must submit papers describing original research in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by January 14th, 2019, so there’s still time to get projects started. The Iowa Regional JSHS competition will be hosted by the Belin-Blank Center on March 4th and 5th, and top presenters will earn scholarships go on to compete at the National JSHS competition!
Regardless of whether submissions are selected for competition, we inviteall interested students and teachers to attend the regional event. Those who attend can participate in laboratory tours, informational sessions for students and teachers, and learn about Iowa students’ research. This is a great way to introduce students to the idea of doing their own original research and prepare them for future projects. It also gives them an opportunity to see the kinds of world-class resources and ideas that are available to students on a university campus. Students and teachers alike leave feeling inspired every year!
The first five students in attendance from each district attend free of charge, including overnight lodging and some meals, while the fee for each student beyond the first five comes to just $25.
Last month, students from across the state of Iowa attended the Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), hosted by the Belin-Blank Center at the Marriott Hotel in Coralville, Iowa.
JSHS is a collaborative effort with the research arm of the Department of Defense and is designed to challenge, engage, and publically recognize high school students conducting scientific research in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). JSHS aims to prepare and support students to contribute as future scientists and engineers – conducting STEM research on behalf of, or directly for, the Department of Defense, the Federal research laboratories, or for the greater good in advancing the nation’s scientific and technological progress.
Students completed an original research project and submitted a research paper to the regional competition. The authors of the top 18 papers were invited to compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting their results before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Students also toured various labs and facilities at the University of Iowa to hear about cutting edge research, potential career paths, and student opportunities.
After an intensive day of presentations, the judges had the difficult task of selecting five finalists based on their research papers and presentations:
1st place: Megan Ertl (Beckman Catholic High School) – “Quantification of Muscle Accelerations to Interpret Individual Fatigue as an Industrial Application
2nd place: Cheryl Blackmer (Ballard High School) – “Development of a LAMP Assay for the Detection of Powassan Virus”
3rd place: Pranav Chhaliyil (Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment) – “Metagenomics Analysis of Bedtime Oral Cleaning by the Novel GIFT Method, Shows a Reduction in Dental-Damaging Bacteria”
4th place: Aaron Wills (Central Lee High School) – “Engineered Environmental Containment: “Using Lemna minor L. to Reduce Nitrate Levels in Aquatic Environments”
5th place: Brianna Cole (Valley High School) – “Cumulative Effects of Recurrent Amygdala Kindled Seizures on Respiratory Function”
Additional presenters, who were winners by virtue of having their papers accepted, included Allison Brasch (Waterloo West High School), Mason Burlage (Beckman Catholic High School), Ava Depping (Madrid High School), Serenity Haynes (Central Lee High School), Sean Kluesner (Beckman Catholic High School), Pearl Krieger Coble (Winfield-Mt. Union High School), Kayla Livesay (Van Buren High School), Kathryn McCarthy (Sioux City East High School), Evylin Merydith (Keokuk High School), Tyler Montgomery (Kennedy High School), Elizabeth Smith (Waterloo West High School), Laura Stowater (Algona High School), Shelby Westhoff (Beckman Catholic High School).
The top five finalists will attend an expense-paid trip to the JSHS National Symposium next month in Hunt Valley, MD to present their research and compete for additional prizes.
A few of our administrators are back in Washington, DC (almost exactly a month after the Wallace Symposium) to chaperone the national symposium for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS). Iowa Regional JSHS winners (left to right) Aparna Ajjarapu, Abby Walling, Karleigh Schilling, and Breanna Kramer got a chance to explore Arlington National Cemetery:
Crystal E. Owens (West Des Moines, Iowa) placed 3rd in her research category and received a $4,000 scholarship at the United States Army-, Navy-, and Air Force-sponsored 49th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), held April 27-May 1, 2011, in San Diego, California.
Crystal Owens accepting the Iowa Regional JSHS First Place Award from Major Mike Belin.
Owens, a senior at Valley High School, competed in the Life Sciences category of competition with her research project, “Zea Mays Seed And Plant Orientation: Impacts On Emergence, Stereoscopy, And Grain Yield.”
Owens progressed to the national symposium after competing in and winning first place in the Iowa Regional JSHS, held February 24-25, 2011, in Iowa City. Approximately 12,000 high school students participated at the regional level, and the top 96 presenters from the 48 regional symposia (representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the DoD Dependents Schools of Europe and the Pacific) were invited to participate in the national symposium in San Diego.
Congratulations to Crystal and everyone who participated in JSHS this year!
The Belin-Blank Center will be hosting the 2012 Iowa Regional JSHS on March 1-2, in Iowa City. We encourage Iowa high school students to pursue STEM-related research projects, the results of which can be submitted for presentation next March.
This program was designed to engage high school students in science, math, engineering and technology through presenting their original research efforts, visiting research labs, and networking with peers to enrich their understanding of STEM opportunities beyond high school.
Five finalists from the Iowa region were selected to join 240 students from around the country in participating in the national symposium this weekend in San Diego. Finalists from the national symposium will receive military-sponsored undergraduate scholarships and participate in the London International Youth Science Forum this summer at London University.
Nearly 100 adult leaders, high school teachers, university faculty, ranking military officers and other guests will join in encouraging the future generation of scientists and engineers and celebrating their achievement in the sciences.