Indiana high school students present STEM research at SMWC

February 27th, 2015 | SMWC

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The cure for cancer, the next big technological advancement, the future’s greatest scientific discovery – any of these could rest within the mind of an Indiana high school student, waiting for the opportunity to be developed. The Indiana Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (InJSHS), hosted at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) on March 5-7, 2015, may serve as the first step for participating Indiana high school students in realizing their own potential.

In a partnership between the United States Army, Navy and Air Force, and colleges across the country, SMWC is helping find the next generation’s top researchers by sponsoring the Indiana region’s 42nd annual JSHS event – a science, mathematics and humanities research competition open to high school students. This will be SMWC’s 7th year hosting the event. SMWC is the only JSHS site in the state of Indiana.

“This program is meant to support and encourage young people to continue in the STEM fields, giving them the opportunity to excel in research development, as well as meet new people who may be interested in the same learning experiences,” states Dave Grabowski, Ph.D., SMWC biology professor and science and mathematics department chair.

Every Indiana high school is invited to nominate 10-15 students along with a teacher/sponsor to attend InJSHS. After submitting their research papers, approximately 20 students from various high schools are invited to compete in InJSHS and give oral presentations before a group of peers, teachers and judges. Presenters are eligible for sponsored scholarships valued at $1000, $1500 and $2000 and will advance to the national-level symposium.

“Students have a lot to gain from participating in InJSHS,” states Grabowski. “They are given the opportunity to present their research, improving their interpersonal and communication skills. By attending the regional symposium, they continue to develop the network of peers competing in the STEM areas at various competitions.”

InJSHS has had success at the national level in the past. In fact, last year’s first place national finisher was from Paoli High School in Indiana. This year, schools attending include Terre Haute South Vigo High School, Winamac Community High School, Carmel High School, Marian High School of Mishawaka, Ind., Signature School of Evansville, Ind., and the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities of Muncie, Ind.

During the event, the SMWC department of science and mathematics also hosts an additional learning experience for students who submitted their research papers but who were not invited to compete – a non-competitive poster show. SMWC students majoring in science communications judge the posters and present “beaker awards” to top poster presenters.

“Although we are a liberal arts institution, the sciences are an important and integral component of academics here at The Woods,” states Grabowski. “SMWC has been providing this type of encouragement since the College’s inception.”

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