How to Win the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a professor discussing a lesson to his class

How to Win the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) stands as a premier national platform aimed at fostering the development of young scientists and engineers by promoting and recognizing high school students conducting research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Central to winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is the innovation and depth of research and the ability to effectively communicate complex scientific ideas to a diverse audience. This symposium invites students from across the United States to present their original research before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers, competing for scholarships and recognition.

Winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium requires innovation and the ability to convey complex ideas with clarity and conviction.

What Is the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium?

Understanding the eligibility criteria for participation in the JSHS is crucial for aspiring winners. The symposium is open to high school students engaged in original research in STEM areas.

This broad eligibility criterion means that students from various educational backgrounds, including those in public, private, and home schools, can aspire to success in winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

There is a strong emphasis on originality and scientific rigor, with students required to submit research papers and presentations that reflect their independent work and contributions to their chosen field of study. By setting such standards, JSHS not only cultivates a competitive environment but also ensures that participants are prepared for the challenges and expectations of scientific research and academia​​​.

Who Can Participate in the JSHS?

Participation in the JSHS is a testament to a student’s commitment to excellence in STEM research and dedication to advancing their knowledge and skills. Winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium requires more than academic brilliance; it demands creativity, perseverance, and the ability to communicate complex ideas effectively.

Group of students looking at their gadgets while sitting on the stairs.

As participants prepare their research, they are encouraged to engage deeply with their topic, seek feedback from mentors, and practice their presentation skills, all of which are integral to their success in the competition. The JSHS thus serves as a valuable stepping stone for young scientists and engineers, offering them a platform to showcase their talents and a pathway to future opportunities in STEM fields​​​​​.

10 Tips on How to Win the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

Participants must blend scientific acumen with presentation skills and strategic planning to excel at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). Here are 10 tips, inspired by the competition’s structure and successful strategies from past participants, to help you stand out and potentially win at the JSHS:

1. Choose a Unique and Relevant Research Topic

Choosing a unique and relevant research topic is a cornerstone strategy for anyone aiming to win the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. This initial step sets the stage for the entire research process, determining the direction of your investigation and its potential impact on the scientific community.

A student writing in a room in front of her laptop.

A unique topic signifies that the research addresses a question or problem not extensively explored before, offering new insights or innovative solutions. Relevance, conversely, ensures that the research has practical significance or contributes to ongoing scientific debates, making it compelling for the judges and audience alike.

The dual focus on uniqueness and relevance challenges students to delve deeply into their fields of interest, encouraging them to identify existing research gaps or look at established problems from fresh perspectives.

2. Conduct Thorough Research

Conducting thorough research is a pivotal step for students aiming to win the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, as it underpins the credibility and depth of their scientific inquiry. This extensive groundwork involves exploring various sources, including academic journals, books, expert interviews, and experimental data, to build a robust foundation for their project.

Male student using a laptop while sitting on a table.

A comprehensive research approach allows students to fully understand the scope of their topic, identify where gaps in knowledge exist, and how their work can contribute to filling those gaps. For participants in the JSHS, thorough research enhances the substance of their project and equips them with the evidence and data needed to substantiate their findings. It involves critical evaluation of existing literature, meticulous data collection, and rigorous analysis, all essential components of a successful scientific investigation.

This depth of research demonstrates to the judges and audience the student’s commitment to their subject matter, ability to engage with complex scientific concepts, and determination to contribute meaningfully to their field.

3. Develop a Clear and Concise Abstract

Developing a clear and concise abstract is a critical step towards winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, as it serves as the gateway to your research, offering the first impression of your project to judges and peers.

A woman typing in her table.

A well-crafted abstract briefly summarizes the essential aspects of your work, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions, providing a snapshot that entices further reading. For participants in the JSHS, crafting an abstract that stands out is about balancing precision with brevity, ensuring that every word conveys the significance and originality of their study.

This clarity in communication demonstrates the student’s ability to distill complex research into an accessible format, reflecting their understanding of the subject and their skill in highlighting its importance.

4. Prepare a Detailed and Well-Structured Research Paper

Preparing a detailed and well-structured research paper is indispensable for participants aiming to win the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. This document is the cornerstone of your presentation, serving as the comprehensive record of your scientific inquiry from inception to conclusion.

A woman writing an essay on a table.

A winning research paper is characterized by its clarity, depth, and organization, presenting a coherent narrative that guides readers through the research question, literature review, methodology, findings, and study implications.

It demands a rigorous approach to documenting your research process and outcomes, ensuring that each section contributes to understanding the study’s significance and reliability. Attention to detail is crucial in demonstrating the thoroughness of your research, the validity of your methods, and the relevance of your conclusions.

5. Master Your Presentation Skills

Mastering your presentation skills is an essential strategy for students focused on winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. This aspect of the competition is where research meets rhetoric, allowing participants to bring their months of hard work to life in front of a panel of judges and an audience of their peers.

Students talking in a conference room.

Effective presentation skills encompass a range of abilities, from the clarity of speech and the organization of thoughts to the use of body language and visual aids that complement the verbal message.

For participants, this means not only having a deep understanding of their research topic but also being able to explain complex concepts in a way that is engaging and accessible to all listeners, regardless of their background in the subject matter.

This involves practicing the delivery to ensure timing is within the allocated presentation slot, anticipating questions, preparing thoughtful responses, and adapting the presentation style to maintain audience interest throughout.

6. Use Visual Aids Effectively

Using visual aids effectively is a pivotal element in winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, as these tools play a crucial role in enhancing the comprehension and retention of complex information presented during the research.

A group of students gathered around a table working on a project

Visual aids, such as charts, graphs, slideshows, and models, can transform abstract concepts into tangible examples that captivate and clarify for the audience. For competitors, the judicious selection and design of visual aids mean aligning them closely with critical points of the presentation to reinforce messages, illustrate data trends, and underscore the significance of the research findings. It’s about balancing informative content and visual appeal to maintain audience engagement without overwhelming them with excessive detail.

Additionally, they demonstrate the presenter’s effort to communicate their findings in a thoughtful and accessible manner, showcasing their commitment to excellence and understanding of their audience’s needs.

7. Anticipate and Prepare for Questions

Anticipating and preparing for questions is a critical strategy for participants aiming to win the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. This preparation goes beyond merely knowing your research inside out; it involves a deep understanding of how your work fits within the broader context of your field, the potential applications of your findings, and the limitations of your study.

Successfully navigating the question-and-answer segment requires thinking on your feet and communicating complex answers clearly and concisely. This presentation segment offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate your critical thinking skills, passion for research, and ability to engage in scientific discourse.

By anticipating the types of questions that judges and audience members may ask, you can prepare thoughtful responses highlighting the depth of your knowledge and the thoroughness of your research approach.

8. Network with Peers and Professionals

Networking with peers and professionals is an invaluable aspect of participating in and potentially winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. This opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and experts in various STEM fields can significantly enrich the symposium experience, offering insights, advice, and future research opportunities.

Business people discussing documents and ideas at meeting

Effective networking involves actively engaging in discussions, sharing your research interests, and expressing curiosity about others’ work. It’s not just about forming immediate collaborations but about building a community of support and inspiration that can propel your scientific journey forward.

These connections can lead to mentorships, internships, and even student career opportunities, opening previously unknown doors. Professionals, on the other hand, provide a real-world perspective on how academic research translates into practical applications, offering guidance on navigating the challenges of a STEM career.

9. Seek Feedback and Iterate

Seeking feedback and iterating on your work is fundamental for those focused on winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. This iterative process is more than refining your research; it’s a proactive approach to enhancing every aspect of your project, from the initial research question to the final presentation.

interviewer smiling at the camera

Engaging with teachers, mentors, and peers to review your work provides diverse perspectives that can reveal areas for improvement you might have yet to consider. Constructive criticism is invaluable, as it challenges you to think critically about your research methodology, data analysis, and how you communicate your findings. This feedback loop encourages continuous improvement, allowing you to refine your hypotheses, tighten your conclusions, and polish your presentation skills.

Moreover, iterating based on feedback demonstrates your commitment to excellence and resilience in the face of critique, which is essential for a successful scientist or engineer. By embracing this process, participants can significantly enhance the quality and impact of their projects, making them more compelling for judges at the symposium.

10. Stay Informed About Current Trends in STEM

Staying informed about current trends in STEM is a critical strategy for students aiming to excel and potentially win at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. In a rapidly evolving field like STEM, new discoveries, technologies, and methodologies constantly reshape the research landscape and its applications.

student laptop

For participants in the symposium, being well-versed in these developments enriches their projects and demonstrates their engagement with the broader scientific community. It allows students to contextualize their research within their current field, highlighting their work’s relevance and potential impact.

Furthermore, incorporating cutting-edge trends into their projects can set students apart, showing their initiative to push boundaries and contribute to advancing their field. This knowledge can also be invaluable during the Q&A sessions, enabling students to draw connections between their research and recent advancements, thereby impressing judges and peers alike.


The importance of these strategies extends beyond the competition itself, preparing students for future endeavors in STEM fields. By adhering to these principles, participants enhance their chances of success at the symposium and develop invaluable skills in any scientific or academic career.

The ability to conduct thorough research, communicate effectively, and remain engaged with the ever-evolving landscape of STEM will serve students well beyond the symposium in college and their future careers.

group of individuals applauding

Ultimately, winning the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is an achievement that signifies a student’s commitment to excellence in STEM. However, the true reward lies in the journey—the knowledge gained, the skills developed, and the connections made.


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