Our Story

We create classrooms where curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking thrive.

We create classrooms where curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking thrive.

Our educators develop inquiry-based approaches for K–12 education to help families and teachers prepare the next generation of problem-solvers. The Institute offers engaging programs for students, as well as transformative professional development and instructional tools for teachers. We are committed to promoting a high-quality education for all children.

When Jay and Betty Van Andel founded Van Andel Institute in 1996, they envisioned a world-class biomedical research facility where scientists would tackle some of the most challenging issues threatening human health. They realized these issues would persist well beyond a single generation, so from the outset, the Institute included a K–12 outreach program to complement the research endeavors, preparing the next generation of scientific thinkers and problem solvers.

Van Andel Institute for Education helps teachers across the country transform their science instruction. We have our own student programs where we test innovative pedagogical practices and engaging instructional practices. We then share those best practices with teachers, creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking thrive.

Guiding Principles

  • We believe teachers have the most important job and should be respected and supported as such.
  • We never want a lack of funding to be a hindrance to quality instruction.
  • We enhance our reputation through the quality of our products and services.
  • We are not bound by traditional norms of instruction, and we are continually innovating for the benefit of student learning.
  • We value curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking in a learning environment.


For Educators

  • Professional Development
  • Instructional Tools
  • Field Trips

For Families

  • Afterschool Programs
  • Summer Camps
  • Community Events

Our Impact

Making A Difference

Watch our 2020–2021 Impact Video to see the ways Van Andel Institute for Education supports families and schools.

Success Stories

Crossroads Charter Academy

Crossroads Charter Academy and the Future of Professional Development

Learn More

Northview Field School

Northview Field School Charts a New Course with Project-Based Learning

Learn More

From Science Cohort to Fulbright Scholar

From Science Cohort to Fulbright Scholar: One Student’s Journey with VAI

Learn More

Our Team

Meet the educators inspiring the next generation of scientists.


Your Life’s Work. Here. Now.

Stay in the know

Never stop learning! Join our mailing list or follow us on social media for tips, strategies, updates, and inspiration.


I could not be more impressed with the staff and follow-thru at VAI. They help me, help students, and our administrators at every opportunity for quality inquiry-based lesson delivery.

Russ Wallsteadt

GVSU Health Sciences

My husband and I work hard to ensure that our children are exposed to experiences that will support their thirst for learning. I continue to be impressed by the programming and staff at the VAI. We know several students who have completed the Afterschool Cohort program and gone on to be successful students and young adults. I view it as one of the premier after school activities offered in the city of Grand Rapids.

Parent of Afterschool Cohort student

My favorite part of summer camp was Everything!! I LOVED it!😁

Summer Camp Student

I always feel recharged and encouraged after PD here at VAI. One session here usually equals months of good ideas and lessons

Northview Field School Teacher

Once again, thank you for supporting our teachers. You have been a wonderful asset and support system as our teachers navigate implementing PBL in our schools.

Hillary Baker

Director of Instructional Services, Allegan Public Schools

Thank you for coming to our school! The students had so much fun that they probably didn’t even realize all the learning they were doing. THAT is the best kind of learning!

Kimberly VanderZwaag,

Rose Park Elementary

Thank you, thank you for all the energy and knowledge you have shared with my granddaughter and all of the students. We are so blessed by the gifts you bring to this program! Our community is so lucky to have this program.

Grandmother of Afterschool Cohort Student

Great job. If I could rate this field trip, it would be a 10/10.

Student from Harrison Park


Amazingggggg!!! I've always wanted to do PBL in the classroom since I learned about it a few years ago. This 3-day series was unlike any other training I've ever had, and I can see my works on paper becoming a reality. Thank you for this!!

GVSU Teacher

The PD today was awesome - I saw so many smiles, we needed that!

Yvette Levy

Principal of Wilkinson Early Childhood Center