Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) hosted an inaugural summer camp program for 60 enthusiastic young students across West Michigan in July 2017. Fourth- through seventh-grade students from a variety of backgrounds were offered a unique opportunity to experience the joy of discovery and embrace their curiosity, creativity and critical thinking skills through the program. Students learned how to develop supportive learning relationships and expand their understanding of basic scientific principles, all while building friendships and having fun.
The camp was made possible through a generous gift from the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation, a West Michigan–based nonprofit organization that has long supported VAEI’s commitment to biomedical research and science education. While growing up in a farming family in Allendale, Michigan, Bea developed a zest for life, people and helping others in her community. Supporting educational initiatives has long been a passion for Bea and her extended family — in addition to investing in the Institute, the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation has contributed generously to academic institutions throughout Grand Rapids.
“Van Andel Education Institute encourages students to be passionate, engaged learners and helps them explore the incredible world of scientific discovery,” Bea said. “Our Foundation is proud to support the Institute’s programs that are inspiring students and illuminating the beauty and complexity of the natural world.”
Van Andel Education Institute encourages students to be passionate, engaged learners and helps them explore the incredible world of scientific discovery. Our Foundation is proud to support the Institute’s programs that are inspiring students and illuminating the beauty and complexity of the natural world. - Bea Aldrink Idema
Because of the Foundation’s generosity, VAEI is able to extend the summer camp programming into 2018 and expand the curriculum to include second- through 12th grade students. The Institute will also use these funds to partner with organizations such as NASA, the Girl Scouts of America, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the Grand Rapids Public Museum to design summer camps that cover a variety of scientific subjects. Terra Tarango, VAEI director and education officer, is grateful to partner with the Foundation to create a unique program that takes learning out of textbooks and places it in an active, hands-on educational environment.
“We are so appreciative of the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation’s generosity and support for our mission,” Tarango said. “The Foundation’s gift has enabled us to broaden the number of students we serve and to enhance the experience for all campers. With professional equipment, creative curriculum and hands-on learning experiences, our campers will gain not only the science content they learn at camp but also treasured memories and a lifelong passion for learning!”
For more information on ways you can support Van Andel Education Institute’s education programs, please contact Brett Holleman at Brett.Holleman@vai.org or 616.234.5045.