The Iowa Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) is a high school science research competition, grounded in engaging students in unique research experiences. The uniqueness of Iowa JSHS begins with students submitting a symposium proposal in the form of a scientific article. (See how to write a scientific article.) The symposium proposal is an authentic audience for whom students write. Students put their work out into the world, and a panel of experts reviews each submission for potential inclusion in the symposium.
The premier event of Iowa JSHS is students listening to presentations of research that has been conducted by their peers. Presenting at Iowa JSHS is an exciting experience, but for students in the audience, seeing what is possible through near-peer mentorship is an impactful experience. Yet, Iowa JSHS is more than students presenting research. Time is provided for the students to socialize, forming impactful connections resulting in life-long friendships. Iowa JSHS also enables students to experience a research-intensive university first hand. Through laboratory tours, students get a backstage pass to world-class labs and the professional scientific community.
Any school in Iowa can bring five students to attend Iowa JSHS free of charge, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Tri-Services and the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Iowa JSHS truly is an experience that goes beyond the ordinary science fair. If you’re interested in learning more, send us an e-mail at email@example.com and check out our website.
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!
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.
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.