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2018 Fall/Winter Highlights of Hope

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EDUCATION HONORING AND

EDUCATION HONORING AND EMPOWERING TEACHERS — VAN ANDEL EDUCATION INSTITUTE’S INAUGURAL SCIENCE ON THE GRAND CONFERENCE In July 2018, more than 130 teachers, administrators and education professionals visited Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) for the inaugural Science on the Grand conference. Terra Tarango, Van Andel Education Institute’s director, and her team at VAEI designed the conference to honor the work of teachers and provide them with the opportunity to gain practical, purposeful strategies to incorporate inquiry-based instruction into their teaching. TEACHERS DISCUSS INQUIRY-BASED LEARNING AT THE INAUGURAL SCIENCE ON THE GRAND CONFERENCE. VAEI was honored to kick off the event with exceptional keynote presentations from Taylor Mali, education advocate and author of What Teachers Make, on day one, and B. Gentry Lee, chief engineer for the Solar System Exploration Directorate and partner for Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, on day two. “During this event we literally and figuratively rolled out the red carpet for teachers,” Tarango said. “We wanted teachers to be inspired by world-class speakers as well as empowered with classroom-proven strategies and lessons to create extraordinary classrooms. But more than that, we wanted them to feel honored and appreciated for the extraordinary work they do.” Reaching out to teachers everywhere Lisa Carlstrom, a fifth-grade teacher from Holy Spirit School in Grand Rapids, attended the conference with other K–12 teachers as a way to improve inquiry-based learning in her classroom. “The conference had really good sessions, and every one of the speakers was amazing,” Carlstrom said. ”We had the opportunity to learn hands-on techniques we can take back to the classroom and apply. I am really fired up to change things up when we start school this fall.” Conference members came to the Institute from across West Michigan, and more than nine states in the U.S. as well as Canada. Lori Corley, principal of Springfield Elementary in Greenwood, South Carolina, traveled thousands of miles to attend the conference along with two science teachers from her school. Corley was introduced to the Institute while attending the National Science Teachers Association Conference, where she met VAEI education specialists and learned about the Institute’s science education and professional development programs. “After meeting representatives from the Institute, I recognized that the beliefs that go into VAEI’s education philosophy are very similar to the beliefs that I hold as a principal,” she said. While at the conference, Corley and members of her team went on a tour of an Institute lab, met with scientists, participated in breakout sessions, heard inspirational speakers and networked with teachers, where they discovered new ways to view science education and new insights into their profession. “One of the takeaways I received from the conference is the importance of teaching students to think like scientists,” Corley said. “We want to let students know that if you think like a scientist in the classroom, there is no reason why you can’t be one in the future. I think this understanding is really important.” Learning what VAEI is all about Tarango is optimistic that the conference will serve as a way for teachers and administrators to become familiarized with both the Institute and its mission, which focuses prominently on inquiry-based instruction. “This conference is a good way for educators to get to know us at VAEI and metaphorically kick the tires a little,” Tarango said. “To make meaningful transformations in instruction, we often work with teachers over a two- or threeyear period, so this conference lets teachers learn what we’re about and see if VAEI is a good fit for their continued professional development.” The two-day conference was divided into two sections — day one focusing on classroom culture and day two focusing on practical, inquiry-based lessons and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) content. Tarango views the conference structure as a reflection of VAEI’s framework, which emphasizes both the classroom learning environment and content-area knowledge. “I think the conference was a perfect forum for reminding teachers why they entered this noble profession and inspiring them to continually grow and improve their craft,” she said. “I have heard from many teachers who were frustrated with teaching, tempted to leave education altogether, and then heard an inspiring speaker or learned an innovative strategy, and just like that — they are recommitted to their students and all the promise of this remarkable profession.” For information on VAEI’s educational programs and events, visit vaei.org. 10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

THINKING AND ACTING LIKE SCIENTISTS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS SPEND SUMMER DAYS AT VAN ANDEL EDUCATION INSTITUTE High School students from across West Michigan spent their summer days thinking and acting like scientists during Van Andel Education Institute’s (VAEI) week-long summer camp held in July 2018. Students used handson interactive investigations and inquiry-based learning techniques to delve into a series of complex projects including using electrophoresis to identify DNA, testing the water quality of river water, exploring what it would be like to live on Mars and building and testing robotic devices. VAEI’s summer camp is one of several student programs in which young scientists can explore their world, collaborate with other students and learn in an environment where curiosity, creativity and critical thinking thrive. Esther Vanderwey, Sophomore “I like science very much, so I really enjoyed this camp. Today, we were using DNA to figure out how to solve crimes. We used samples and gel electrophoresis to match DNA and learn about forensics. My interests are in zoology, but I love all sciences and I had a lot of fun.” Sophia Maisel & Lucie Kovarik, Freshmen “The camp was good because it was very hands-on, and compared to doing online courses, this was more fun. We did a lot of trial and error in our projects, which is cool because it’s all up to you and your group if you succeed or fail. I liked working with other people and collaborating, and it was fun seeing people succeed.” The Van Andel Education Institute summer camp was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation. Eli Lake, Freshman “The instructors we had at the camp are really nice. What I really loved is that we were doing things that scientists in a big university lab do right here in a classroom, and that is really cool. I really like science and one day I would like to be a molecular biologist.” Alex Kempston, Freshman “Everyone at the camp is interested in science, and it was a good opportunity for me to be around other people who like science as much as I do. I’m really interested in science as a career.” Learn more about VAEI’s summer camp and other student programs by visiting vaei.org/student-programs. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 11

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