Van Andel Institute launches free, virtual ‘Prevent the Spread’ learning resource for teachers, students

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Van Andel Institute for Education is helping teachers and students keep curiosity and a love of learning alive amid COVID-19 related K-12 school closures by providing open access to at-home learning resources and a relevant Blue Apple™ project.

The Institute has launched a free, virtual version of “Prevent the Spread,” a project where students learn about their unique power to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The virtual project, which is geared toward students in grades 3-8, can be found here.

“Teachers are making heroic efforts to adjust to distance learning on the fly,” said VAI Chief Education Officer Terra Tarango. “They want to continue with authentic, meaningful learning experiences, and we want to help them do that.”

The project provides everything a teacher needs to conduct the project remotely. It includes a student-facing slideshow with dozens of age-appropriate resources to help students understand the pandemic. A teacher’s guide provides support in leading students as they explore the information and apply it by creating their very own public service announcement to encourage people to adopt smart habits to protect against germs. The project even includes a reflection journal to capture students’ thinking, as well as suggested content connections in math, science, English language arts, and social studies.

In addition to offering a virtual format for “Prevent the Spread,” the Institute is continually curating a list of free K-12 educational resources that can be used at home during school closures. The list, which is being updated weekly, can be found here.

To learn more about Blue Apple projects, visit blueappleteacher.org. To find more resources from Van Andel Institute for Education, visit vaei.org.


Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an agile biomedical research and education organization that unleashes innovation to multiply impact. Established in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by the Van Andel family, VAI collaborates around the world to advance bold ideas in biomedicine and education. With a staff of more than 400 and a growing network of partners, VAI studies the origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translates its findings into breakthrough prevention and treatment strategies to improve human health. The Graduate School at VAI offers a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology through a research-intensive, interdisciplinary program that prepares students for successful careers as independent investigators. VAI also is dedicated to creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical thinking thrive, offering engaging programs for K–12 students and transformative professional development and instructional tools for teachers. Find out more about Van Andel Institute by visiting vai.org.

Media Contacts

Zane McMillin
Van Andel Institute
[email protected]