The Heartland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (Heartland-JSHS) program is the premier high school science competition in Iowa/Nebraska. Students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research projects before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Students will also have the opportunity to visit cutting-edge university research labs, hear from university researchers about their work and career paths, and network with their peers. Not sure if your students are ready to compete? Your school can bring a few students to participate in the symposium without presenting.

About the Program

JSHS enables teachers to create life-changing experiences for their students! Students conduct original STEM and humanities research, using the Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards. Meaningful student engagement in research supports student success in a variety of domains, including developing 21st-century skills. High school students will surprise themselves by tackling problems they thought were beyond their reach and will develop confidence in their abilities, academically and beyond.

Heartland Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium:

  • Oct 19, 2023: Research proposal site opens
  • January 10, 2024 (11:59 PM CST): Research proposal due
  • January 24, 2024: Notification of proposal acceptance
  • February 9, 2024: Registration to Attend Symposium
  • February 26-27, 2024: Heartland-JSHS Symposium

National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium:

  • May 1-4, 2024
  • Albuquerque, NM

Research can happen in a wide variety of settings. Past JSHS participants have conducted research on their family’s farm, using publicly available data sets, in an ag or science classroom, through participation in a citizen science project, or from working with a local expert or university faculty mentor. Whatever the research project, when students participate in Iowa-JSHS, they write research papers detailing their investigations and submit it as a proposal to present at Iowa-JSHS. The proposal submission deadline also creates authentic space that imposes the need for students to set continual goals throughout their research projects.

Heartland JSHS Awards: 

  • Scholarships of $2,000 for first place, $1,500 for second place, and $1,000 for third place are jointly awarded by the Departments of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force to student finalists who are citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) of the United States.
  • Scholarships of $750 to attend the University of Iowa are awarded to the top five finalists by the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.
  • The top five finalists are invited to attend an expense-paid trip to compete at the annual National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

National Awards:

  • Seven $12,000 undergraduate tuition scholarships
  • Seven $8,000 undergraduate tuition scholarships
  • Seven $4,000 undergraduate tuition scholarships

How to Participate

Want to join us? We're here to help with all the information you will need in order to participate.


Any high school student in the Heartland Region (the entirety of Iowa and Nebraska) can participate in Heartland-JSHS. In order for a submission to be considered for competition, research papers must meet the requirements outlined in the Iowa Research Handbook. Any students accepted to deliver an oral or poster presentation, and up to five student delegates (those attending but not presenting), may attend from each school.


Each proposal is evaluated by a panel of judges at the University of Iowa, creating an authentic audience for whom students must develop a written product. Judges will use the Research Paper Selection Rubric found in Section 4 of the Iowa Research Handbook to select qualified proposals. The students submitting the top 15 proposals will qualify to deliver an oral presentation with slides at the Heartland-JSHS and compete for the Heartland-JSHS awards. Fifteen additional students will be invited to deliver a poster presentation. 

The top 5 oral presentation finalists at Heartland-JSHS will be invited to compete for additional scholarship money at the National Symposium in April.


Submitting a research proposal for consideration to qualify for Heartland-JSHS is free. Attending the virtual symposium and engaging with STEM experts from around the world is also free.

Our generous sponsors include the National Science Teachers Association, U.S. Department of the Army, Office of Naval Research, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Division of Continuing Education at the University of Iowa.

Submit a Paper

Paper submissions for this year will occur between December 1, 2023 and January 10, 2024 (11:59 PM CST).

This is probably one of the best venues for young kids to see a university setting and to experience high school level research.

Ernie Schiller - Donnellson, IA

How to Prepare

Need help getting started?

Guidelines for Students & Teachers

A detailed explanation of the Heartland-JSHS program along with basic guidelines for teachers and students can be found in the Iowa Research Handbook. The STEM Student Research Handbook (Harland, 2011) is also helpful for beginning researchers.

Strategies for Success

Information on guidelines and successful strategies may be found at the National JSHS website.

Ready to Register?

Register NowImage link to JSHS application

Contact Us

The JSHS Symposia are sponsored by:

Junior Science & Humanities Symposium Tri-Services Seals