The Pennsylvania 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 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is divided into 12 PJAS regions. Each PJAS region consists of two or more counties. Every PJAS region has one or more directors and a treasurer who oversee the operation of the region. PJAS also has a State Director, a State Secretary, and two State Treasurers as well as committees for Judging, Safety, Technicians, and Awards.
In the early 1930’s, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) appointed a national executive committee to coordinate the activities of the various state Junior Academies of Science (JAS). Thus, the JAS movement became an integral part of the AAAS 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 in1932 resulted in the appointment of a committee to consider the development of a junior academy in Pennsylvania. As a result of this committee, the senior PAS became the parent organization of the PJAS. Two years later, on March 31, 1934, in Reading, PA, delegates from 14 high school science clubs from all parts of the Commonwealth approved a constitution for the PJAS organization. The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science had become a reality. Dr. Otis W. Caldwell from Columbia University served as an official delegate of the AAAS and welcomed the new group. Pennsylvania was added to the states of Indiana, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, and others that already established junior academies of science. The first PJAS State Director was Dr. Karl F. Oerlein of the California State Teachers College in California, PA. He continued his office until 1941.
PJAS has grown through the efforts and dedication of many adult sponsors and students. PJAS conducted the early state meetings at various resorts and convention centers throughout the Commonwealth. The last such convention was at Seven Springs Resort in1990. 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 2010, the school participation grew from the original 14 schoosl in 1934 to 551 schools. At the region level, over 6000 students presented their scientific research. The 2011 state meeting hosted 3400 presenters in over 312 units. The total number at the State Meeting including student presenters, technicians, sponsors and chaperons was almost 4000. Each year a different region hosts the State Meeting. 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.
The following have served as PJAS State Directors: Dr. Karl F. Oerlein 1934-1941, Miss Mary Hawthorne 1941-1944, Mrs. Marie K. Overholts 1944-1945, Miss Sophie Moiles 1945-1958, Mr. Charles L. Bikle 1958-1964, Mr. Robert E. Hansen 1964-1967, Mrs. Carolyn A. Gibson 1967-1971, Sister M. Gabrielle, Ph.D. 1971-1976, Mr. Joseph A. Gennaula 1976-1979, Mr. Clarence Myers 1979-1985, Mr. Edward Testa 1985-1989, Mr. Joseph Durkin 1989-1996, Mr. James W. Maloy 1996-2002, Mr. Peter Carando 2002-2008, Dr. Laura Fisanick 2008- 2014,and Fay Hadaway-Nelson 2014 to present .
The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science is a non-profit organization, tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) as described in Section 509 (a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and files form 990 –Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, on an annual basis. The Academy is also a registered charitable organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and therefore, is authorized to solicit contributions within Pennsylvania. The PJAS Federal Employer Number (EIN) is #23-6396183. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations (State Certificate Number) is #14563. PJAS is audited yearly by Wildeman and Obrock Certified Public Accountants, 515 South 29th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104-2104.
The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science sponsored by the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, as an Affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is organized with the following objectives:
- To promote greater participation in science and mathematics activities among the youth of Pennsylvania.
- To improve the quality of achievement in mathematics and science by encouraging students to participate in research and develop original ideas.
- To develop an understanding of the scientific community through close association with leaders in the sciences.
- To seek the improvement of science clubs activities through the cooperative regional and state meetings.
- To inculcate among its members true scientific attitudes and humanistic ideals that shall lead to the greater development of service to man.