Afterschool Cohort now enrolling students for fall 2020, spring 2021

Does your child love science? Are you looking for an after-school program that’s free of charge? Van Andel Institute for Education is now accepting applications for its Afterschool Cohorts and is looking for creative and curious students interested in hands-on investigations, asking questions, discovering answers and learning to think and act like a scientist.

The Institute’s Afterschool Cohort program is now enrolling students in grades 4–7 for fall 2020 and spring 2021. The popular program promotes inquiry-based learning in the areas of Biodiversity, Human Health and Human Innovation.

In the Biodiversity and Human Health categories, students learn how our health depends on healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. In the Human Innovation category, students explore various topics that show how innovation can help improve quality of life.

“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.” 

Afterschool Cohort takes place at the Institute’s Education building at 216 N Division Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids. We’re pleased to announce that all of our student programs and teacher programs can be offered in person, virtually, or as blended solutions — when fall rolls around, all our offerings will be provided in accordance with CDC guidelines and state ordinances pertaining to gathering sizes and physical distancing.

There is no cost to participate in the program. All tuition costs are underwritten by the Institute. Learn more about Afterschool Cohort programs and apply here.

FALL 2020

Ecosystem Explorers (Grades 5­­–6)

Design your own investigations using living animals and plants to learn how ecosystems work and why they matter.

Energy Innovators (Grades 6–7)

Learn about traditional energy sources and explore alternative energies to help power the future.


Species Explorers (Grades 4–5)

Explore our living world through observations of plants and animals.

Disaster Detectives (Grades 5–6)

Explore natural disasters and predict where they may strike next.


Van Andel Institute (VAI) is committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations through cutting edge biomedical research and innovative educational offerings. Established in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1996 by the Van Andel family, VAI is now home to more than 400 scientists, educators and support staff, who work with a growing number of national and international collaborators to foster discovery. The Institute’s scientists study the origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translate their findings into breakthrough prevention and treatment strategies. Our educators develop inquiry-based approaches for K-12 education to help students and teachers prepare the next generation of problem-solvers, while our Graduate School offers a rigorous, research-intensive Ph.D. program in molecular and cellular biology. Learn more at