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In 1957 a Junior Academy was introduced in the Southern California Academy of Sciences program. This was an endeavor to bring young people into the membership. In time they were asked to participate in one program (several events occurred monthly) each year where several students would present papers. At other times, a student would present a paper before the regular program of the month. No separate meetings were held by the young people.
In 1980 a research program for high school students was started by the Southern California Academy of Sciences. Designated as the Junior Academy, it began with five high school students, each assigned to a local research institution and mentored by a research scientist during their academic year. The program was funded through a grant by the A.A.A.S. which provided $200.00 for each student's research. Occasionally the students met informally on weekends as the Junior Academy to become acquainted with each other and to discuss their research. Students presented their research in Poster Format during the SCAS Annual Meeting. The following year the Arco Foundation provided money to double the program. By 1988, TRW (Northrup Grummond) and Prentice Hall allowed the program to include twenty-four students. The Nancy Reagan Foundation added funds in 1990. In 1990, the National Science Foundation funded and expanded the program as a part of its Young Scholars Program. The Academy, the California Museum of Science and Industry (California Science Center), and the University of Southern California supported this program, as the Southern California Student Consortium. The student number increased to nearly 75. In 1991, the California State University, Fullerton’s NSF Young Scholars Program, where the students did research during the summer with CSUF researchers, also presented their research at the Junior Academy sessions at the Annual Meeting. The number of student presenters increased to well over 100 and required two all-day sessions at the Annual Meeting. Due to the outreach effort of these programs, the students represented the demographic diversity of the southern California region. Formal structured Saturday meetings were established to motivate, and teach the skills needed for the students to maintain success in science. These meetings continue to this day. These topics include, “How to write a Scientific Paper”,”How to Create a Scientific Poster”, How to Present a Scientific Talk”, “Scientific Ethics”, and learning of other research at various institutions. Saturday meetings are usually held at Loyola Marymount University, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, and the UCI Air Pollution Laboratory. In the past, meetings have been held at the L.A. County Museum of Natural History, Claremont McKenna College, Occidental College, University of Southern California, and UCLA.
Students are selected by the Junior Academy Committee in June from applications and recommendations (from teachers) submitted in May, and research begins as early as August and continues until May. Originally, those chosen for the program worked for eight hours a week from November through mid-April. Now, students may begin as soon as an agreement is reached with the research Mentor in August. Research papers are presented and judged at the annual meeting of the Academy. The best of these are invited to present their research at the national meeting of the American Junior Academy of the National Association of Academies of Sciences at the AAAS meeting each following year in February. The top four receive a one year honorary AAAS membership, with a subscription to the journal Science. The delegates return the following year to join the undergraduate and professionals in exhibiting their posters at the Academy Poster Session.
Submitted by Gloria J. Takahashi