PJAS Goals

The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science sponsored by the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, as an Affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is organized with the following objectives:

  • To promote greater participation in science and mathematics activities among the youth of Pennsylvania.
  • To improve the quality of achievement in mathematics and science by encouraging students to participate in research and develop original ideas.
  • To develop an understanding of the scientific community through close association with leaders in the sciences.
  • To seek the improvement of science clubs activities through the cooperative regional and ae meetings.
  • To inculcate among its members true scientific attitudes and humanistic ideals that shall lead to the greater development of service to man.

Student Participation

Student participants in the PJAS program are encouraged to follow the scientific method to select a project, research the background, formulate a hypothesis, develop an experiment to prove or disprove the hypothesis, and to collect and analyze data from their experiment. The students then prepare a written report and give an oral presentation with audio visuals to their sponsor. Group projects are not permitted.

Students who are selected at the school level then are registered to present their project at the regional meeting. The regional meetings are usually in February or early March each year. The students at the regional meeting are divided into units of around ten students who are all in the same area of scientific research, such as chemistry. A panel of two or more judges then evaluates the student's project presentation against set criteria. The students can receive a first, second or third award on their project. Each unit can have more than one first award. Students who receive a first award are then eligible to go to the State Meeting at Penn State University the third weekend in May.

The judges at the regional and state meetings are sponsors, graduate students, college professors, and scientists from industry. PJAS has developed a set of guidelines for judging the student presenters along with a briefing format to assure that the judging is consistent throughout the state.

Short History of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science

The Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) is a statewide organization of junior and senior high school students designed to stimulate and promote interest in science among its members through the development of research projects and investigations.

The state of Pennsylvania is divided into ten regions. Each region consists of two or more counties. The region has one or more directors and a treasurer that oversee the operation of the region. At the state level there is a State Director, Secretary, and Treasurer. In addition, there are committees that coordinate the judging, awards, technicians, and growth at the state level.

In the early 1930's, a national executive committee was appointed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to coordinate the activities of the various State Junior Academies of Science. Thus, the junior academy movement became an integral part of the organization with the formation of the National Junior Academy of Science (NJAS).

A paper presented at the Pennsylvania Academy of Science (PAS) at its West Chester meeting in 1932 resulted in the appointment of a committee to consider the development of a junior academy in Pennsylvania. As a result the senior PAS became the parent organization of the PJAS and still elects the Junior Academy State Director every three years.

Two years later, on March 31, 1934, at Reading, PA delegates from fourteen high school science clubs representing all parts of the state met and approved a constitution the next day. The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science had become a reality. Dr. Otis W. Caldwell, Columbia University, as an official delegate of the AAAS welcomed the new group. Pennsylvania was then added to the states of Indiana, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, and others that had already established junior academies.

The first State Director was Dr. Karl F. Oerlein of the California State Teachers College in California, PA. He continued in office until 194 1. The PJAS has continued to grow through the efforts and dedication of many adult sponsors and students. The early state meetings were held at various resorts and convention centers throughout the state. The last such convention was at Seven Springs Resort in 1990. Because of the enormous growth in the number of students participating the State Meeting was moved to Penn State University at University Park, PA in 1991. In 2000 the school participation had grown from the original fourteen in 1934 to 424 schools. At the region level over 6000 students presented their research projects. The 2000 state meeting has grown to 2497 presenters in 290 units. The total number at the State Meeting including student presenters, technicians, sponsors and chaperons is almost 4000. Each year a different region hosts the State Meeting by preparing the program booklet, organizing the chaperone functions, helping to recruit judges and coordinating many of the activities. The Regions host in the following order: Year ending in: 0 Region 9, 1 Region 5, 2 Region 10, 3 Region 1, 4 Region 8, 5 Region 2, 6 Region 7, 7 Region 4, 8 Region 6, and 9 Region 3.

Past State Directors

The following have served as State Directors:

Name Years
Dr. Karl F. Oerlein 1934 - 1941
Miss Mary Hawthorne 1941 - 1944
Mrs. Marie K. Overholts 1944 - 1945
Miss Sophie Modes 1945 - 1958
Mr. Charles L. Bikle 1958 - 1964
Mr. Robert E. Hansen 1964 - 1967
Mrs. Carolyn A. Gibson 1967 - 1971
Sister M. Gabrielle, Ph.D. 1971 - 1976
Mr. Joseph A. Gennaula 1976 - 1979
Mr. Clarence Myers 1979 - 1985
Mr. Edward Testa 1985 - 1989
Mr. Joseph Durkin 1989 - 1996
Mr. James W. Maloy 1996 - 2002
Mr. Peter Carando 2002 - Present