UNM STEM-H (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Healthcare) Center for Outreach, Research and Education hosts the Southwest Region Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) competition Friday-Saturday, Feb. 27-28.

The competition gives high school students from New Mexico and southwest Texas the opportunity to compete for scholarship prizes and a chance to move forward to the national JSHS competition, held this April in Washington D.C. this April.

This year’s regional JSHS competition, which will be held on UNM’s Main and Health Sciences Center campuses, consists of each student giving an oral presentation accompanied by PowerPoint slides to a judges panel about a research project they completed earlier in the year. For example, students discuss their research for a science fair project they completed for their school fair, or a research project they completed in their spare time or with a mentor. Judges come from Intel, Sandia, LANL, UNM, Ethicon and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“JSHS attracts high school student researchers who have done some truly amazing, incredibly high caliber work,” said UNM STEM-H Center Director Karen Kinsman. “It’s always a great honor to be able to support the work these students are doing, provide a competition venue that gives them a chance to win some great awards and offer the possibility of moving on to a national level of competition where the stakes are even higher.”

To register, students were required to submit their project descriptions, along with their materials and methods, for review. Approximately 30 students were selected to move forward and present their research projects to the panel of judges. The first place winner will receive a $2,000 scholarship award; the second place winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship award; the third place winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship award. Additionally, the top-five students from the regional competition will be invited to compete in the national JSHS competition.

UNM STEM-H Center Program Specialist Erin Garcia, who organized the regional Southwest JSHS again this year, said the event also provides the unique opportunity for student researchers to connect with the area’s top STEM-H professionals. 

“I was inspired to bring this competition to our department in 2014 because it is a great opportunity for high school students to win scholarship money and a trip to the national competition,” Garcia said. “It’s also the perfect time for them to meet other students and professionals from around New Mexico who are excited about STEM research, and share their ideas.”

The competition agenda also includes UNM lab tours, a welcome dinner, a trip to the UNM Observatory and a luncheon. The keynote speaker at the dinner Friday night is Dr. Valerie Romero-Leggott, vice chancellor for Diversity at the UNM Health Sciences Center. 

The competition concludes Saturday, Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. with an awards ceremony in the Domenici Center Auditorium.

UNM STEM-H CORE also hosts the annual Central New Mexico Science Olympiad competition and the annual Central New Mexico Science and Engineering Research Challenge, for middle school and high school students. For more information about the Southwest Region JSHS competition, please contact the STEM-H Center for Outreach, Research and Education at 277-4916 or scifair@unm.edu.