The Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (Upstate NY JSHS), sponsored by the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force, is one of 48 regional symposia encompassing all 50 states of the United States. High school students find the JSHS to be a most challenging venue for reporting their research findings because they must give an oral presentation before a large audience and be questioned by professional scientists, who are full-time university faculty and their equivalent in government and industrial laboratories. In contrast, the Intel competition involves only submission of a research paper, and the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is a poster competition.
This year, the 25 th anniversary of the Upstate NY JSHS, more than 250 full-length research papers were submitted from more than 50 high schools. Of these, more than 150 were heard in oral presentation at three sub-regional symposia, one for Westchester-Rockland Counties, one for Eastern New York, and one for Central-Western New York. From these, 30 papers were chosen for oral presentation at the Regional Upstate NY JSHS in five concurrent sessions at the University on Monday afternoon, March 22 in front of more than 325 high school students and teachers. The winner of each session spoke again on the following morning to determine the top two students, who will represent us at the National Symposium in late April. The winners have therefore been chosen as “best” by three independent panels of judges. No other regional symposium is as intense and competitive as ours, nor does any other require presentations before three independent judging panels to determine the winners. We are quite competitive nationally, and have returned four first-place, two second-place, and one third-place winners in the past eleven years.
It wasn’t always this way. In the first year we had only five research papers from five schools and each of them was presented orally. Our enormous growth over the years is partly due to our promotion of the teaching of Science Research courses in high schools with the aid of two large grants from the National Science Foundation, totaling $1.7 million. We offer these courses for University at Albany credit through our University in the High School (UHS) program. This is available to students who have completed at least one year of the Science Research course at the high school level, who have recruited a scientist-mentor who is external to the school, and whose teacher has been trained through an approved training program. Today almost 80 high schools in New York State participate.
A symposium involving hundreds of students and teachers from dozens of high schools, including an overnight stay for more than half of our participants, requires a great deal of logistical support. We are very fortunate to have the firm support of Greg Stevens, Assistant Dean of the CAS and Director of the UHS program, who made the UHS office available for logistical support for the symposium. I am also very pleased to have recruited Prof. Tim Lance (Mathematics and Statistics) as Co-Director for the past several years. This is the first year that the symposium has been held entirely on campus. The move was possible through the leadership of Karen Chico Hurst, chief administrator of the UHS program, who has had much experience in programming UHS events on campus, and who was able to find sufficient meeting rooms for the student presentations. Both the participating students and the high school teachers greatly enjoyed being on campus. This is great publicity for the University as well, and I only wonder why it has taken us so long to do this! For more information on the JSHS and the Science Research in the High School program, go to www.albany.edu/scienceresearch.
Article: Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Showcases High School Students' Original Research