Boosting future scientists’ research skills
The Illinois Junior Academy of Science (IJAS) is a nonprofit organization that hosts annual regional and statewide science expositions. Member schools send their students to their respective regions’ expositions, and students with the highest scores qualify for the state exposition. The IJAS process gives students insight into scientists’ problems and methods of thinking, encouraging them to learn about scientific equipment, go beyond the classroom curriculum to develop their own investigations, and continue their progress toward careers in science.
The HSLE has established a relationship with IJAS based on a shared interest in supporting gan environment in which students are mentored by teachers and industry experts, engage in industry-focused challenges and research, and present their research projects for judging by industry experts. The HSLE piloted the partnership in 2013-14 in the Aurora and Chicago Public Schools because of both districts’ active involvement in IJAS planning and the capacity to participate. The HSLE worked with IJAS to:
- Support collaborative scientific research
- Improve high-school faculty mentorship
- provide better access to labs and equipment
- Increase the number of qualified judges from employers