Science on the Grand

Science on the Grand has been postponed until 2022. Please keep checking back for updates.

Tentative 2022 Date:
July 11–12, 2022

Be sure to check out our upcoming webinars on topics relevant to our current educational environment.





Van Andel Institute for Education (VAI) honors the person and the profession!

We know teachers have the most important job in the world; that’s why we support the whole teacher. This conference was designed by experts and current classroom teachers to provide research-based and classroom-tested content that supports your classroom expectations, your content standards, and you as a person.

Join us in creating a classroom culture that supports STEAM instruction. Develop lessons — by grade level — for inquiry-based STEAM content, and nurture your own curiosity for personal growth and enjoyment. Plus, you’ll see that you’re not alone with many networking opportunities for you to engage with other teachers by grade level and content area.

Because teachers deserve it!

  • Establish a classroom culture to support STEAM instruction
  • Explore standards-aligned lessons by grade level with STEAM integration
  • Network with like-minded educators in your grade and interest area
  • Nurture your own curiosity and personal growth
  • Win up to $5,000 to supercharge your classroom! (see Pitch Tank tab for details)

Registration includes:

  • Two days of inspiration, exploration, and practical takeaways.
  • Opportunities to network with like-minded teachers.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Bring a friend and share the experience! Plus, principals can attend FREE!*

* With the paid registration of a staff member, a principal from the same building may attend for FREE.

Two days, two great keynotes!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Erin Gruwell
Educator & Catalyst for Social Change and New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Freedom Writers Diary

Keynote: Becoming a Catalyst for Change
Erin Gruwell helped 150 of her students—many of whom were written off by the education system—to use the power of education to write a book, graduate from high school and attend college. In her inspiring presentation, Gruwell tells the story of this extraordinary journey—from poverty and despair to hope and promise—with stops at Anne Frank’s House and Auschwitz and then on to Capitol Hill and Congress. She challenged her students to overcome the seemingly insurmountable problems of poverty, racism, and violence. Encouraging tolerance, respect, and cooperation, Gruwell teaches us all how we can become role models and “Catalysts for Change.”

About Erin Gruwell
Erin Gruwell is a teacher, an author, and the founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. By fostering an educational philosophy that values and promotes diversity, Erin transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider daily decisions, and ultimately re-chart their futures. Erin and her students captured their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary. Erin founded the Freedom Writers Foundation where she currently teaches educators around the world how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms. She created the Freedom Writers Methodology, a progressive teaching philosophy and curricula designed to achieve excellence from all students. Erin continues to fight for equality in education and inspires teachers and students all over the world with her work.

For more information on Erin Gruwell, go to

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Matt Steensma, M.D.
Associate Professor, Skeletal Disease and Cancer Therapeutics

Keynote: Orthopaedics and Future Scientists
Join Dr. Matt Steensma—surgeon and scientific investigator in the Center for Skeletal Disease and Cancer Therapeutics at Van Andel Institute for Research—as he shares scientific insight around the surgical treatment of primary and metastatic tumors of the musculoskeletal system. Learn about the unique sub-specialty of orthopaedic oncology and the work being done to improve the lives of patients with bone, muscle, fat and nerve tumors. In this program, Dr. Steensma will also bring a scientific perspective on how educators can influence and inspire the next generation of scientists. Educators will gain insight into what it’s actually like to “think and act like a scientist.”

About Matt Steensma, M.D.
Dr. Matthew Steensma is one of the world’s leading orthopaedic experts in the study of surgical management of musculoskeletal tumors. Dr. Steensma is a graduate of the musculoskeletal surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He is a surgeon-scientist with an interest in sarcoma biology and has faculty appointments with Van Andel Institute for Research and Michigan State University School of Human Medicine. In 2014, Dr. Steensma was named as one of the winners of the inaugural French S. Collins Scholars Program in Neurofibromatosis Clinical and Translational Research.

For more information on Dr. Matt Steensma, go to

Bring a friend and share the experience! Plus, principals can attend FREE!+

Registration includes…

  • Two days of inspiration, exploration, and practical take aways.
  • Opportunities to network with like-minded teachers.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and a special dinner!

Individual Tuition

  • $100 per person until May 16, 2021
  • $200 per person from May 17 – July 12, 2020

All prices per person. Registrations cannot be shared.

+With the paid registration of a staff member, a principal from the same building may attend for FREE. Free principal registrations are nontransferable. To receive the free principal offer, principals must register by phone with name of paid registrant. Call 616.234.5528.

Convince Your Administrator
Need help convincing your administrator? Use this sample Admin Request Letter that highlights all the great reasons you should attend Science on the Grand!

When & Where

Monday, July 12 – Tuesday, July 13, 2021
7:30 AM–3:30 pm*

Van Andel Institute Campus
333 Bostwick Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Highlights from Science on the Grand 2019:
Dr. Andrew Pospisilik’s Keynote Address: