PJAS was established in the 1930s as a way to get middle and high schoolers to participate in the scientific process (see a screenshot of their more detailed goals below). Students grades 7-12 get to conduct a scientific research project in one of 12 official PJAS categories under the guidance of parents, teachers, and/or scientists. In the spring the students practice giving 10-minute presentations about their research and what they learned throughout the course of their project at regional competitions. These presentations are judged and scored out of five points by an unbiased panel of teachers, and if the students average a score of 4 or better they get to give their presentation at the state competition, which is held every May at PSU.
PJAS Research Categories
Earth and Space
Second, there's just something so special about watching a budding scientist give a well-planned talk about a project that they did largely on their own. I've only ever gotten to judge the Biology talks but these kids definitely take pride in their work, especially when they came up with the idea behind the experiment. Even if they don't directly say it, you can feel their enthusiasm in the way they discuss their project. Melts my heart every year, and gives me hope for the future.