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Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science

Digital Presentations at the State Competition - Main

Note:  This page is primarily intended for Students.
If you are a Sponsor or Regional Director, we have dedicated pages for you.

Thanks to the gracious support of our volunteers, PJAS has successfully migrated to be 100% Digital at the State Competition! 

Notification Process
You will receive an email from our PJAS State Digital Presentation Uploader informing you that you are in a digital unit and need to take action.  Your sponsor also receives a copy of this email.  (Note: In cases where we do not have an email address for you, your sponsor receives the email that you would have received.)  For the 2015 State Competition, the emails to students will get sent on Thursday, April 30, 2015.  Due to issues with certain spam filters, a majority of students may not receive their email until Monday, May 4, 2015.

Presentation Requirements
All presentations must be in PDF format.  No other formats will be accepted.  The State has standardized on PDF format to ensure consistency between platforms and fairness of presentations. Microsoft Office 2007 and newer versions provide native support to save documents in PDF format using the File, Save As... menu. 

You may also search the Internet for a free PDF converter and use that type of program to convert your presentation to PDF format.  If you use a free PDF converter, make absolutely sure that it does not place a stamp or watermark on your presentation.  Some of these utilities do not display a stamp or watermark unless the presentation is displayed on another computer.  So, we recommend verifying your presentation on a different computer, just to make sure you have a clean presentation.

You should also be mindful of your presentation’s page orientation.  If you are converting a PowerPoint Presentation to PDF, your slides are almost certainly in the recommended landscape orientation.  If you are converting a Word Document to PDF, your pages may be in portrait orientation.  If that is the case, we recommend changing them to landscape orientation in Page Setup.

File Size Restrictions
All PDFs must be less than 10 MB.  If you try to upload a PDF that is too large, you will receive an error message, such as Server Error - "Maximum request length exceeded". 

From the reports we have received, Mac users are having issues with their PDF files being too large.  Apparently, Office Mac does not compress the PDF files the same way that Office for Windows does.  If you are experiencing this error on a Mac, please try these steps:
1. Save the file from PowerPoint as a PDF.
2. If the file is too large, open the file in Preview on the Mac (a PDF Reader).
3. Select File, Export...
4. In the drop down "Quartz Filter" box selection, select "Reduce File Size".
One participant was able to reduce his 10 MB PDF to 1 MB using this procedure! 

As an alternative, you may also be able to take your PowerPoint file to a Windows machine and save it as a PDF there.  The "standard" option should be fine, but, if you still have file size issues, select the "minimum size" option.  You can use these same options (standard and minimum size) if you are getting the error on a file originally generated from PowerPoint for Windows.

Uploading and Verifying Your Presentation
You will need to access the PJAS State Uploader website, login with your User ID and temporary password, set a permanent password, and upload and verify your presentation prior to coming to Penn State.  The link to the PJAS State Uploader website, your User ID, and your temporary password are sent via email.  Once you upload your PDF presentation, you must verify that it opens successfully and displays all pages correctly.  We strongly recommend verifying your presentation on a Windows computer using Internet Explorer 11 with Adobe Reader 11 as the PDF Viewer.  That way, you will be using the same software that will be used in the digital presentation unit.  As noted earlier, please pay special attention to the orientation of the presentation.  Once you have verified that your presentation displays all pages correctly, mark the presentation as “Verified”, and you are all set.

You may make changes to your presentation at any time until Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 10:00 PM, the date the Uploader closes in preparation for the State Competition.  Please note that, if you upload a new presentation, you must mark it as “Verified” again.  Once the Uploader closes, you will only be able to view or verify a presentation that you already uploaded.  So, don’t delay...upload today!

Backup Plan
The uploaded presentation will automatically be set to display in the appropriate room.  However, in the event of technical difficulties, we require that you bring a backup copy of your presentation (include your original file[s] and your PDF file) on a USB Flash Drive.  You must carry this USB Flash Drive with you to the presentation room.  PJAS Technicians will be informed of the appropriate procedures in the event of technical difficulties.  To be clear, the USB Flash Drive will ONLY be used when approved by PJAS Staff in the event of unresolvable technical difficulties with the uploaded digital presentation.  It will NOT be used to display a newer or different version of a digital presentation.

In addition, in the extremely unlikely event of technology failure, please print out your slides prior to coming to Penn State and bring them with you to your presentation room so that you have a hard copy of your presentation, just in case.

Summary of Important Points

  • All presentations must be in PDF format.
  • You must upload your PDF presentation by Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 10:00 PM.
  • You must verify your PDF presentation after you upload it.
  • Digital Units will not have overhead projectors.  You MUST make a digital presentation.
  • You must bring a backup of your PDF presentation (and any original files used to create that PDF) on a USB Flash Drive and take the USB Flash Drive to the presentation room.
  • We strongly recommend that you print out a paper copy of your presentation slides and bring them with you to the presentation room, just in case.

Frequently Asked Questions (Updated 5/4/2015)

  1. I did not receive an email from "PJAS State Digital Presentation Uploader".  What does this mean, and what do I have to do?
    First, check with your sponsor.  All sponsors were copied on the emails that their students received from the State Uploader.  If they have your email, they can forward it to you.

    Please note that we encountered issues sending to many student and sponsor email accounts as our messages were blocked by spam filters.  We have modified our message and will be resending emails to students who have not logged in on Monday morning, May 4, 2015.  If you have not received an email by the end of the day on Monday, May 4, 2015, either our messages are still getting blocked or the email address that was provided to us was invalid.  In this case, please check with your sponsor and have your sponsor email the  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for assistance.


  2. I forgot my password or cannot login.
    No problem!  It happens to the best of us.  Please contact your sponsor.  Sponsors now have the ability to login and send you a temporary password.

  3. No matter what I try, I cannot get my PDF file small enough.  Can you help me?
    We will certainly try.  Please email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  .  Attach your original PowerPoint to that email, so that we have something to work with.  If it is too big to email, let us know, and we will provide other options.

  4. Can I insert audio, video, a website link into my digital presentation?
    The presentation rules in the Judges’ Handbook, located on the Judges menu on www.pjas.net, have been amended to include guidelines for digital presentations.  However, the rules regarding the use of audio and video in presentations have not changed.

    Here’s an excerpt from the Judges’ Handbook.  We emphasized the sentence that should address this question.

    For Digital Units:  Digital is permitted only when PJAS provides the computer. Students will be notified in advance whether or not they will be in a digital unit. Slides may contain text and graphics ONLY. Animations, music, and sound effects are not permitted. Presentations must be saved in PDF format. One way to create a digital presentation is to use PowerPoint, then convert to PDF. If overhead projectors are available, students in digital units may choose to use transparencies instead of digital. A student’s score should not be lowered because of this choice.

    Here is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind, “If you can’t do it with transparencies, you can’t do it with a digital presentation.”

  5. Do I have to bring a USB Flash Drive?  If so, what should I put on it?
    Yes.  Your USB Flash Drive will serve as your safety net in the event of any issues.  As stated earlier, you will NOT be able to use your USB Flash Drive to give a different presentation.  Your USB Flash Drive should have your original presentation and your PDF presentation.  The original presentation file can be used to recreate your PDF presentation in the event such actions are deemed necessary by the PJAS Digital Presentation Team.

  6. How will I advance my presentation?  How will I point at the screen?
    PJAS / PSU will provide a wireless mouse that will be demonstrated before the unit starts.  It can move the slides forward and backward and has a laser pointer built in.  If that accessory should fail, you can stand behind the podium and operate the display with the keyboard and point to items on your slides with the wired mouse pointer.

  7. Please describe the type of equipment that I can expect to see in the digital presentation units.  Will there be interactive whiteboards, such as SmartBoards or Promethian Boards?
    Digital Presentation Units will have a projector with a screen.  They will not have interactive white boards.

  8. What version of Adobe Reader will be used in the presentation rooms?
    Penn State's Computers have Adobe Reader XI (11).  For the most accurate verification, please use a computer with Adobe Reader XI (11), as well.

  9. I have a question that is not addressed on this site.
    Please email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  .  We will respond to you as soon as we can.

PJAS State Uploader Overview for Students
Click here to open the PJAS State Uploader Overview for Students.

PJAS State Uploader Link
The PJAS State Uploader can be accessed by going to http://www.pjas.net/stateuploader

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Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science