The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) hosted its annual state competition at University Park on May 21, 2018. The PJAS state competition gives high school students grades 7-12 an opportunity to come to a university campus and present their scientific research.

Utilizing the event as a way to recruit some of best and brightest students in Pennsylvania, the College of Agricultural Sciences; College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; College of Engineering; and Eberly College of Science interview and award scholarships to a number of top presenters. Historically, the event has been hosted by the Eberly College of Science (ECOS) and Penn State Conferences and Institutes; technical support is provided by Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT). Beyond Conference and Institutes services, most Penn State staff, faculty and student involvement is performed as part of the university’s public service mission.

According to the PJAS web site, http://www.pjas.net/about-pjas, the first competition was held in 1934. Students from 14 Pennsylvania high schools gathered in Reading, PA to present their work. The event has grown to one of the largest in the country. In 2018 Penn State hosted
2158 student presenters from 284 schools. The presenters were accompanied by 370 sponsors (teachers) and a small cadre of students to provide Tier 1 technical support. The state competition has been held at University Park since 1991.

Presentations were done in TLT’s Technology Classrooms; this year a total of 107 rooms were reserved for the day of the competition. TLT provided two staff members for support: one to support the classroom technology and another for software and data support. The TLT Classrooms team also provides support for general classroom issues. TLT support is vital to the success of the PJAS event. Not only do TLT staff provide high-quality technical support to students and sponsors, but also without TLT support, PJAS would have to annually find and/or train volunteers to provide presentation support in the classrooms.

The event was a major success again this year. ECOS Assistant Director for Science Diversity and Inclusion, Artemio Cardenas, said this year 83 students first and second place competition winners were offered Penn State scholarships. Assistant Director Cardenas indicated that “PJAS is an excellent event to recruit talented in-state students. They tend to get very high marks at Penn State.” PJAS is an excellent opportunity for high school students to visit a university campus and discover how they can pursue their scientific interests. ECOS is committed to future support of the competition. Going forward, Assistant Director Cardenas hopes to involve more of the Penn State community in the event.