While poster sessions may seem reserved for post-secondary and professional conferences, high school students can benefit from the opportunity to present their research and projects in such a succinct way. These events allow students to "get their feet in the water" and work on communication skills by presenting their research in a condensed "elevator speech" format rather than a full-scale presentation.
Students may have the notion that posters are an activity and presentation form they will leave behind at the junior-high or high school level (think science fairs). However, many colleges and other post-secondary institutions view posters and poster sessions as "an important and effective way to communicate information."
Poster sessions can be as small or large scale as desired. They can be on an individual classroom level, subject level, grade level, the list goes on. The session can be based on a particular subject or within certain parameters, or can be more freely structured, encouraging students to research and present on topics of personal interest.
In her article "Poster Session as an Experimental Learning Activity in the Classroom," Mary B. Vollaro, Ph.D. describes the atmosphere at the sessions: "Student-to-student interaction is dynamic during the poster session. There is always a ‘buzz’ in the room and the students look forward to the free time at the end of the formal rotations when they can revisit particular poster or just see a friend’s work. Students enjoy the opportunity to be creative with the ‘graphic art’ in their posters, while improving their communication skills in this medium."
There are also options outside of school walls for students to practice this key skill. Several universities host high school poster sessions during the academic year. For exmple, Illinois State University hosts an annual high school research symposium. It's registration page states:
"Taking part in the Symposium will allow you to gain valuable experience in presenting your research to a diverse audience. You will be able to network and gain an appreciation of the work of your peers. Presenting your research is an attractive addition to any résumé, internship or job application, scholarship application, or college/university application."
There are numerous resources online to help guide students in the design of their poster. For example, the poster below shows recommendations for layout, colors, font, text size, etc.
Students can design their posters in PowerPoint or a design program, save as a PDF, and easily print to a large, professional quality poster using the PDF-to-Poster feature on the Perfecta 2400.