Teaching students to think and act like scientists

It’s no secret that children are curious. Children ask questions about the world around them and often ask “why” something is the way it is. The Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) believes that when you harness this natural curiosity, and provide children with an opportunity for discovery, you can unlock a lifelong passion for learning. The key to unlocking this passion is VAEI’s Community of Scientific Practice model (CoP).

The Community of Scientific Practice is a classroom instructional process in which students ask questions, design and conduct investigations and collect and analyze data. They make claims (answers to their questions) based on evidence and sound reasoning. Within this process, students engage in creative and critical thinking, self-direction and openness to new ideas through scientific discourse and collaboration.

CoP poster-original

Today, technology is a major part of teaching and learning about science. VAEI’s NexGen Inquiry® was developed to support the implementation of the CoP Model with the ease of a web-based, intuitive and interactive, science-investigation platform. The learning portal is designed to engage students in self-directed, hands-on science investigations by incorporating the use of an interactive online journal. Since NexGen Inquiry’s introduction in August 2015, more than 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students, located in all 50 states and nine countries have begun using the platform!

Through the Community of Scientific Practice model and NexGen Inquiry, VAEI hopes to transform science education nationwide. The Education Institute believes inquiry-based learning will better prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century, and hopefully, inspire children to pursue careers in science or science related careers when they grow up. Who knows, maybe one day a student will run a laboratory here at Van Andel Institute!