Summer Camps

Engage your kids with in-person Summer Camps

Van Andel Institute for Education offers unique summer camps in science, engineering, and robotics for students in grades 2–12. Students will learn to think and act like scientists with hands-on, interactive investigations.

2023 Summer Camp information will be posted by January 6, 2023.

Grades 2-3

Explore the amazing world of fossils. Think and act like a true paleontologist as you collaborate with new friends, make your own fossils, create a fossil sandwich, and participate in a unique fossil dig! Learn how fossils are formed, discovered, and used to help us understand Earths’ past!

Some of the guided activities:

  • Make your own fossils
  • Create a fossil sandwich
  • Participate in a unique fossil dig
  • Collaborate with new friends
  • Meet a real scientist from the Van Andel Institute
  • And much more!

Dates: June 13–17
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cost: $60

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OR

Dates: June 13–17
Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Cost: $60

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Join us as we explore the amazing world of animal senses. Meet, and handle, resident VAI animals and learn about their extraordinary eyes, fantastic feelers, and other sense-sational senses. Learn how animals use their senses to survive in their environment and use what you learn to design your own new animals with amazing abilities!

Some of the guided activities:

  • Take home your own mystery organism!
  • Set up and conduct your own behavioral investigations
  • Design and build a habitat for your new organism
  • Meet reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates
  • Meet a real scientist from the Van Andel Institute
  • And much more!

Dates: August 8–12
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cost: $60

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OR

Dates: August 8–12
Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Cost: $60

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Grades 4–5

Explore the world of animal adaptations and the habitats they live in! Learn about, meet, and handle a variety of species including invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles!  Study animal behavior, observe structural traits, and discover the unique ways animals survive in the wild.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Conduct observational trait studies
  • Conduct your own behavioral trait investigations
  • Design a habitat for an organism
  • Collaborate with new friends
  • Meet a real scientist from the Van Andel Institute
  • And much more!

Dates: June 27–July 1
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cost: $60

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Join us for a week of exploration to learn what it’s like to live and work in space. Earn your Space Science Investigator badge as you discover how the human body works differently in space, gain an understanding of the dangers associated with space travel, learn about what robots can do for humans in space, and much more! This event has been developed in partnership with the Girl Scouts but is open to all girls.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Build a scale model of our solar system
  • Build foam rockets and launch them into your solar system
  • Exercise like an astronaut
  • Discover the effect of microgravity on your body
  • Design part of an astronaut suit to stay safe in space
  • See the effect of meteors and micrometeoroids on spacecraft
  • Talk with an expert from NASA about their work
  • Design a prototype of a robotic arm to pick objects up in space
  • And much more!

Dates: July 25–29
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cost: $60

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OR

Dates: July 25–29
Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Cost: $60

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Grades 4–6

The Grand Rapids Public Museum, in partnership with Van Andel Institute for Education (VAIE), will provide a unique opportunity for students to think and act like scientists. Young scientists will learn about the history of the Grand River, the Grand River Watershed, and its diverse habitats. Be prepared to get your feet wet and explore the river, conduct laboratory experiments, and learn how you can make a difference protecting river habitat.

Dates: June 27–July 1
Location: Grand Rapids Public Museum
Time:
 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cost: $110

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Ever wonder, “what’s in our water?” Well now you can find out in this summer camp! Investigate this question as you collect, test, and analyze local water samples. Examine possible sources of contamination in our waterways. Build your environmental expertise as you explore ways to improve our water quality. Learn from environmental experts to better understand how all our water is connected—and how crucial it is to keep it clean!

Some of the guided activities:

  • Determine the water quality of the Grand River
  • Design and build solutions to help prevent run-off from getting into our water
  • Build a mini ecosystem and learn how organisms thrive and survive in their environment
  • Learn from real environmental experts about our water and how you can make a difference
  • Create a Public Service Announcement to share with others about how we can improve the quality of our water
  • Meet a real scientist from the Van Andel Institute
  • And much more!

Dates: August 1–5
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cost: $60

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Grades 6–8

Explore and learn what it takes to be a crime scene forensic scientist. Study different techniques used to analyze a crime scene, determine who is ultimately responsible for committing different crimes, and participate in hands-on investigations focusing on fingerprinting, DNA analysis, and more! Talk with an actual crime scene forensic scientist to learn more about this exciting career.  Be ready to put your skills to the test and solve a crime on the last day of camp!

Some of the guided activities:

  • Learn how to complete a fingerprinting analysis
  • Engage in a (simulated) blood typing investigation
  • Discover how to analyze different fibers lifted from a crime scene to determine what they are
  • Meet with a forensic scientist from the Michigan State Police and learn how to analyze an actual crime scene, while discovering more about that career
  • Put your skills to the test, as you use your learnings to solve a crime at the end of the camp
  • And much more!

Dates: July 18–22
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cost: $60

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OR

Dates: July 18–22
Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Cost: $60

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Discover different types of renewable energy. Design a car powered by alternative energy; make a machine that transfers energy to complete a task; use solar energy to cook a marshmallow. Now more than ever, energy needs to be renewable. Through hands-on investigations, learn how alternative energies can be used to power the future.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Design and build a vehicle powered by an alternative energy source of your choice
  • Create a Rube Goldberg machine to accomplish a simple task
  • Discover ways you can be more energy efficient
  • Learn about different types of energy and energy transformations
  • Make a solar oven to cook a marshmallow
  • Meet a real scientist from the Van Andel Institute
  • And much more!

Dates: July 18–22
Time: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Cost: $60

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Calling all witches and wizards! Grab your brooms, or use your Floo powder, and travel to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—Van Andel style! Immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter as you get sorted into houses, make a magic wand, and attend courses such as Potions, Care for Magical Creatures, History of Magic, and Broomstick Flying! Use your newfound knowledge to compete in the all new Triwizard Tournament at the end of the camp.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Meet the Sorting Hat and let him determine the house that you belong in
  • Participate in a different Hogwarts class (including Potions, Care for Magical Creatures, and more!) each day to become a more complete witch or wizard
  • Earn House points as you compete with all the different houses of Hogwarts to win the House Cup at the end of the week
  • Use all your newfound knowledge to compete with your fellow wizards in the Triwizard Tournament at the end of the week
  • Meet a real scientist from the Van Andel Research Institute
  • And much more!

Dates: August 15–19
Time: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Cost: $60

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OR

Dates: August 8–12
Time: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Cost: $60

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Grades 6-9

Explore the science, engineering, and technology needed to complete a mission to Mars. Learn about the red planet and why scientists are so interested in learning more about it. Build and test a rocket that will travel into space! Use LEGO® Mindstorms robots to construct and test a rover to investigate the surface of the Red Planet. Simulate the role of mission control as you attempt to program your robot to complete mission critical tasks.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Learn about NASA’s current efforts and goals for Mars exploration
  • Design a space vehicle that will return astronauts safely back to earth
  • Design and code your own programs using LEGO Mindstorms
  • Calculate your age and weight on Mars and find out why it is different
  • Build and test a rocket
  • Meet a real scientist from the Van Andel Research Institute
  • And much more!

Dates: August 1–5
Time: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Cost: $60

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OR

Dates: August 15–19
Time: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Cost: $60

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Grades 9-12

Discover all the unique and amazing things that the human body can do in this weeklong camp. Participants will dissect a cat specimen and spend each day examining a different body system. Comparisons will be made between cats and humans as students learn more about amazing human attributes. Students will discuss the use of model organisms at medical research institutes such as Van Andel Institute.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Daily dissections of feline systems, including the heart, brain, stomach, and more
  • Hands-on investigations of circulatory, digestive, reproductive, muscular, and nervous systems
  • Discussion with research scientists about the importance of model organisms in learning about human health
  • Tour of a medical research institute learning more about careers in the medical field

Dates: June 20–24
Time: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Cost: $120

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Refund/Cancellation Policy

  • Full refunds will be given if requested more than 7 days before the start date of your camp.
  • Partial refunds (50% tuition) will be given if requested 7 days or less of the start date of your camp.

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