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2022 Spring/Summer Highlights of Hope

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  • Highlights of hope
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  • Michigan
This is the 2022 Spring/Summer edition of Van Andel Institute's Highlights of Hope donor publication.


EDUCATION In-person field trips return at Van Andel Institute for Education In the early days of the pandemic, Van Andel Institute for Education pivoted to offer our suite of student and teacher programs in a virtual format. We knew that educators, parents and kids were in uncharted territory, and we worked swiftly to support them where they needed us most. At the start of the 2021–22 academic year, the Institute returned to an in-person format for one of our most popular offerings: field trips. With appropriate safety protocols and masking in place, we welcomed classrooms back to our educational labs at 216 Division Ave. As of January 2022, there have been 23 field trips serving more than 400 students for this academic year. Our educational philosophy is guided by the principle that immersive, hands-on scientific investigations are best for creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical thinking thrive. Although we successfully offered virtual field trips for months, and continue to do so upon request, it was clear that all of us missed the benefits of in-person learning. “We are so happy to have students back in our labs, doing experiments that get them thinking and acting like scientists and nurturing a curiosity for the world around us,” said Terra Tarango, director and chief education officer of Van Andel Institute for Education. “We will always work tirelessly to create fun, safe learning environments for every student who walks through our doors.” To learn more about our field trip offerings, visit (STARTING AT TOP RIGHT, GOING CLOCKWISE) STUDENTS FROM CROSSROADS CHARTER ACADEMY COLLABORATE; TWO CLASSMATES EXAMINE THE PROPERTIES OF GLITTER; STUDENTS PREPARE TO CONDUCT AN EXPERIMENT DURING THEIR FIELD TRIP TO VAI FOR EDUCATION; STUDENTS WORK TOGETHER DURING FIELD TRIPS TO VAI FOR EDUCATION 16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

Education highlights The pandemic has brought many challenges to the classroom. Our educators worked hard to make sure that teachers and administrators could support students to the best of their ability with a suite of instructions, resources, projects and professional development offerings to help create classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical thinking continue to thrive. Resources mentioned here can be found at Better Together: A Virtual Event for K–12 Administrators To combat learning loss, VAI hosted several networking events for K–12 administrators to help address concerns related to the pandemic. More than 350 administrators from 20 states and two continents have registered for Better Together events. VAI’s Admin Guides These relevant and comprehensive guides are designed to equip administrators with strategies for school development. This year featured “Beyond Learning Loss: Six Ways Schools Can Thrive in the Aftermath of the Pandemic” and “7 Tips for Successful School Improvement Planning.” The Admin Guides have been downloaded more than 500 times. Blue Apple Timely Topics Our expert educators created nine free Blue Apple Timely Topics connecting to current events, such as “Celebrating Black History Month,” “Respectful Debate” and “Spooktacular STEAM.” In 2021, these lessons were downloaded more than 2,800 times and were used throughout the U.S. and more than 25 other countries. Flex PD VAI’s popular Flex PD is a comprehensive, affordable professional development model that promotes tangible shifts in instruction for teachers and administrators. Our plans are customizable to fit educators’ individual needs and include immersive workshops, learning sessions and coaching. NexGen Inquiry Quests Our new NexGen Inquiry Quests are story-driven video lessons that capture student interest by introducing them to real-world problems they can solve with hands-on, scientific investigations. Each Quest includes three inquirybased investigations that help students exercise critical and creative thinking, collaboration with peers, and the application of solutions that will make the world a better place. In one Quest, students play the role of an electrical engineer who is troubleshooting a power outage. In another, students learn “crime scene” forensics to locate a reptile that’s gone “missing” from VAI’s classrooms. “Once again, thank you for supporting our teachers. You (VAI) have been a wonderful asset and support system as our teachers navigate implementing projectbased learning in our schools.” — Hilary B., Allegan Public Schools Field Trips Our field trips immerse students — and their teachers — in learning science through investigation. Students conduct unique, grade-specific investigations and participate in hands-on discovery with activities like mock fossil digs, engineering challenges and robotics coding. After being held virtually for the 2020–21 school year, field trips returned to an in-person format with appropriate safety precautions in fall 2021. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 17

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