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.