Van Andel Education Institute, NASA & the Girl Scouts Team Up to Take Girls to the Stars! The sky was not the limit for Girl Scouts who attended Van Andel Education Institute’s (VAEI) inaugural Journey Through a Life in Space camp in early June 2017. Young space explorers participated in hands-on activities, learning about space travel and rocket science, navigating the solar system and discovering how life in space might affect the human body. The camp was a partnership between VAEI, NASA and the Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore, and featured a curriculum developed by NASA. Campers also met with a NASA engineer and a Van Andel Research Institute scientist to learn about future career opportunities in science-related fields. “It’s wonderful to see so many young women passionate about science — working together collaborating, and 24 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2017 learning what it means to be a scientist working for NASA or Van Andel Research Institute,” said Lisa Neeb, VAEI instructional specialist. “The camp experience we were able to give these girls was the result of different organizations coming together to create a learning experience unlike anything we’ve ever done before. Collaborating with wellknown organizations like NASA and the Girl Scouts enabled us to create a very special program.” VAEI’s summer space camp is one of the many ways the Institute partners with local and national organizations to bring new and exciting science education programs to students. “It’s really encouraging to see that organizations are GIRL SCOUTS AT VAEI interested in working with Van Andel Education Institute to make science education more engaging and impactful,” Neeb said. “I know we will continue to look for more ways to work with national science organizations, community groups, nonprofits, museums and zoos in order to continue to provide the very best educational opportunities we can for our students. It’s exciting to think of what we can do next.” In 2017, Van Andel Education Institute worked directly with 925 students and more than 1,300 teachers. Since NexGen Inquiry ® was launched in April 2015, more than 4,000 teachers have signed up to use it, and more than 114,000 student assignments have been issued through this groundbreaking platform.
Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation Provides Students with a Summer of Discovery EDUCATION STUDENT AT SUMMER CAMP Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) hosted an inaugural summer camp program for 60 enthusiastic young students across West Michigan in July 2017. Fourth- through seventh-grade students from a variety of backgrounds were offered a unique opportunity to experience the joy of discovery and embrace their curiosity, creativity and critical thinking skills through the program. Students learned how to develop supportive learning relationships and expand their understanding of basic scientific principles, all while building friendships and having fun. “Van Andel Education Institute encourages students to be passionate, engaged learners and helps them explore the incredible world of scientific discovery.” Bea Aldrink Idema The camp was made possible through a generous gift from the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation, a West Michigan–based nonprofit organization that has long supported VAEI’s commitment to biomedical research and science education. While growing up in a farming family in Allendale, Michigan, Bea developed a zest for life, people and helping others in her community. Supporting educational initiatives has long been a passion for Bea and her extended family — in addition to investing in the Institute, the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation has contributed generously to academic institutions throughout Grand Rapids. “Van Andel Education Institute encourages students to be passionate, engaged learners and helps them explore the incredible world of scientific discovery,” Bea said. “Our Foundation is proud to support the Institute’s programs that are inspiring students and illuminating the beauty and complexity of the natural world.” Because of the Foundation’s generosity, VAEI is able to extend the summer camp programming into 2018 and expand the curriculum to include second- through 12thgrade students. The Institute will also use these funds to partner with organizations such as NASA, the Girl Scouts of America, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the Grand Rapids Public Museum to design summer camps that cover a variety of scientific subjects. Terra Tarango, VAEI director and education officer, is grateful to partner with the Foundation to create a unique program that takes learning out of textbooks and places it in an active, hands-on educational environment. “We are so appreciative of the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation’s generosity and support for our mission,” Tarango said. “The Foundation’s gift has enabled us to broaden the number of students we serve and to enhance the experience for all campers. With professional equipment, creative curriculum and hands-on learning experiences, our campers will gain not only the science content they learn at camp but also treasured memories and a lifelong passion for learning!” STUDENTS AT SUMMER CAMP VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2017 | 25