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2021 Spring/Summer Highlights of Hope

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The 2021 Spring/Summer edition of Van Andel Institute's Highlights of Hope donor publication.


EDUCATION Virtual Afterschool Cohort brings hands-on science investigations to life Sometimes, a spark is all it takes to ignite a student’s passion for science. Through engaging experiments and thoughtful pursuit of solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges, Van Andel Institute for Education’s Afterschool Cohort program lights the way for young students in their formative years. With the help of VAI’s world-class educators and scientists, students are immersed in the scientific process with hands-on investigations that explore topics in biodiversity, human health and human innovation. They ask questions, investigate problems and discover answers using scientific tools and resources provided by the Institute. “We think the program is phenomenal. All of the activities in the last week were just so cool. We are so grateful to be a part of this program.” — Laura Golub, parent of Cohort student Upcoming Afterschool Cohorts FALL 2021 Space Engineers (Grades 4–5) Blast off to worlds unknown to explore space and the innovations that make space exploration possible. Biomedical Explorers (Grades 6–7) Investigate the role model organisms play in helping us better understand human health. SPRING 2022 “I love that the Cohort program gives students a chance to learn high-level science concepts in a hands-on, inquiry-based format,” said VAI Chief Education Officer Terra Tarango. “But what I love even more is seeing students feel like they belong — like they are part of an important team working on meaningful issues facing our world.” The program is open to students in grades 4–7. These crucial years shape young minds and open up worlds of possibility for the future. Afterschool Cohort catalyzes a lifelong passion for science in students, helping them take those pivotal first steps toward a career in any number of scientific fields. Thanks to the generous support of a Van Andel Institute donor, Afterschool Cohort is open to students at no cost. To learn more, visit Ecosystem Explorers (Grades 5–6) Learn how ecosystems work and why they matter by designing your own investigations using animals and plants. Energy Innovators (Grades 6–7) Explore the environmental and economic costs and benefits of energy used to move vehicles. Students also get to design their own car. 10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

Van Andel Institute for Education adapts Teachers and students come first at Van Andel Institute for Education. As a global pandemic caused seismic shifts in the educational landscape, our team of expert educators recognized the heightened need for engaging materials to use in a variety of environments. They quickly pivoted and tailored VAI’s Blue Apple project-based learning units for in-person, virtual and blended learning environments. Across the country, teachers used these materials to successfully propel students through overwhelming challenges. Their spirit and commitment to their students inspire us every day. Blue Apple Timely Topics connect to current events Free Virtual Blue Apple Projects • Prevent the Spread: How can we stop germs in their tracks? Students test the effectiveness of disinfectants on germs and create a public service announcement to help fight back against these microbes. • VacciNation Students explore the science and history behind vaccines. Then, they’ll use what they’ve learned to share their knowledge with others and to make a positive difference! As lesson planning evolved in response to an ever-changing classroom environment, VAI launched a new program called Timely Topics. This series of 15-minute mini lessons on topics ranging from civil debate to the changing seasons boosts curiosity, creativity and critical thinking, and gets students actively involved in meaningful discussions on current events. Free teacher resources, such as Timely Topics, are made possible through the generous support of the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation. Customized Virtual Science Experiences Students excel with engaging, hands-on lessons — something made even more important and challenging by an uncertain learning environment. VAI gives teachers and parents the tools to tap into this with fun, hands-on science investigations. The Institute’s Customized Virtual Science Experiences inspire students to explore and solve problems using scientific methods, tools and resources. We know that each classroom is unique, and each teacher has their own style; we work with individual teachers and parents to bring lesson plans to life. To learn more, visit STUDENTS AT CROSSROADS CHARTER ACADEMY & THE SHIPLEY SCHOOL PARTICIPATE IN PREVENT THE SPREAD VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 11

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