Every year at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, future scientists are put to the ultimate test, conducting a proper experiment to prove a hypothesis. This long-term project, called Expo, is presented in the form of posters and PowerPoint presentations to the parents of our students on Expo night. This year’s Expo night was held on Wednesday April 27th, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM.

Expo is a massive research project, which requires months of research and preparation time, and is worth a large portion of the students grade in science in the 3rd marking period. It puts them in the shoes of a real scientist by letting them design and execute their own quality experiment. Students have the opportunity to choose their topic, pick groups members and divide the workload.

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The process begins with the students asking a question about something that interests them. Then, the students take a guess at what the answer to the question might be, which is called a hypothesis. Next, they construct a procedure to execute their experiment, which is where they test their question. Then, after they have collected the data from the experiment, they write a formal conclusion about their findings. Finally, they create a poster or PowerPoint slideshow on their entire Expo journey which is presented at Expo night! This challenging process is all worth it as the proud students get to boast their projects to adoring parents and fellow students.

At Expo 2011, a multitude of colorful posters and innovative slide-shows filled the cafeteria, Mueller’s gym and the computer lab. Many creative experiments were represented, like the effectiveness of different cloths against UV rays, and some old classics were also present, like the different plant experiments for the seventh graders. A huge crowd of kids attended, who got to enjoy the table of delicious baked goods in addition to presenting their projects. The event also attracted a large crowd of parents who wanted to view their child’s hard work. “I personally love Expo night, for I get to catch a glimpse into the school life of my daughter. Seeing her project is a joy to me, especially when I don’t get to see much of her work during the year,” stated a beaming mother who was enjoying the successful event.

In addition to the projects to view, a unique star-lab was set up to view space as seen from Earth.  The simulated night sky was brimming with constellations for the children to try to name, and eventually learn about in the process. With our own LCJSMS science teachers on the scene to answer questions, it was a magical experience for all space lovers who attended.

Overall, this year's Expo held a variety of positive responses from different people. From the proud students flaunting their projects, to the doting parents examining the experiments, to the little siblings chowing down on the free treats, the event was a great success for everyone.

Panther Pulse is a column written by students in the grade 8 Digital Newsroom course at LCJSMS in Summit, New Jersey.