MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Marines tinkered at scientific demonstration stations in a quiet school auditorium in late afternoon April 11. Before you could say paleoanthropology, students swarmed the room.
Nearly 30 Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 helped make Arthur W. Edwards Elementary School’s Thorp Science Night a success as a part of the unit’s adopt-a-school program.
Named in honor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Chancellor Holden Thorp, the science nights are funded by a gift from an anonymous donor to a selected elementary school from across the state. The event was free and all of the materials were provided to the elementary school.
1st Lt. James Heg, the squadron’s program coordinator, said the squadron has participated in a wide array of events with the elementary school over the years.
“Many of the children here are military dependents and have one or both parents deployed,” said Heg. “MWSS-271 and the Marines who volunteer to be a part of the adopt-a-school program help fill in that missing space in the children’s lives. We give our time so these children get all the help they can get.”
Principal Kathy Leffler said the Marines’ support was a big help to teachers and staff and provided a huge mental boost for students.
“We are building a bridge between Marines and the younger minds,” said Cpl. Richard Bantigue, an aircraft maintenance administration specialist with MWSS-271. “I feel this is a good example to give to the students to help them understand more about the Marine Corps.”
Students actively participated in experiments and demonstrations covering topics from aerospace engineering to bubbleology at 11 different stations.
Two Marines at each station assisted teachers who explained the experiments to students.
As they completed each experiment, children received a stamp. Some students competed to see who could collect all of the stamps first.
“The children are having a lot of fun and everyone’s enjoying being here,” said Joe Whitelaw, a parent of an Arthur Edwards student. “They’re learning new stuff and enjoying doing it.”
When the room began to clear out, the Marines finally got a break. Many were so worn out after manning the stations for three hours straight, they had to step outside to catch a breath of fresh air.
“I didn’t think I was going to have that much fun,” said Bantigue. “It was well worth our time.”