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2015 Winter Highlights of Hope

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2015 Winter Highlights of

WINTER 2015 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE’S HIGHLIGHTS HOPE of Transforming Science Education for the 21 st Century Van Andel Education Institute Inspires and Educates the Next Generation Dylan Dues is a dedicated student, a scientist and a lab technician at Van Andel Research Institute’s (VARI) Center for Neurodegenerative Science. He is realizing his life-long dream of working in medicine and biomedical research. Dylan developed a love for knowledge at an early age, but his career and life plan were shaped by the dedicated mentors and teachers who encouraged his passion for science. Unfortunately, many students in the United States do not receive an adequate science education. In 2013, only 36 percent of U.S. high school students were ready for college-level science, according to The National Math and Science Initiative, a non-profit focused on improving student performance in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. This statistic highlights the fact that the vast majority of students in the United States do not have the 21 st century skills necessary to pursue careers in science and technology fields. In a modern world shaped by information and scientific discovery, dynamic science education has never been more essential. Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) is revolutionizing science education by providing students with the skills needed to discover insights into their world and pursue technologically driven careers. Jim Nicolette, associate director of VAEI Science Academy, is an unlikely revolutionary. An educator who has assumed many roles throughout his career, Nicolette now develops cutting-edge educational tools that can completely change how science is taught. “There is a conflict between where we are currently in how we assess students and the skills that they need to be successful,” Nicolette said. “The modern workforce needs people who think creatively, are self-directed, motivated, and can work through a process to solve problems.” Thinking Like a Scientist Nicolette and his colleagues at VAEI’s Science Academy have developed an educational philosophy that is inquirybased and focused on the scientific process that scientists like Dues use in their work at the Institute. Students and teachers involved in the Institute’s Dylan Dues “The modern workforce needs people who think creatively, are self-directed, motivated, and can work through a process to solve problems.” Jim Nicolette Jim Nicolette education program learn by thinking and acting like scientists. Instead of emphasizing memorization, inquirybased learning allows students to explore scientific principles by asking questions and testing hypotheses. The Institute’s inquiry-based model centers on three dimensions: Habits of Mind, a Socially and Language- Rich Environment, and the QPOE 2 Continued >>>