After School Cohort

Does your child love science? Are you looking for an after school program that’s free of charge yet high in quality? Van Andel Institute for Education is now accepting applications for its After School Cohorts, and is looking for creative and curious students who enjoy working with others. Through hands-on investigations in two categories—Biodiversity & Human Health or Human Innovation—students ask questions, investigate, and discover answers using scientific tools and resources. There is no cost for participation in this program. Tuition is fully underwritten by Van Andel Institute.

Applications are now open for:  

Biodiversity &
Human Health

Explore how our health depends on biodiversity.

Grades 4–5 | Species Explorers |
Fall 2022

Explore our living world through the observations of plants and animals in this after school cohort. Learn about our resident animals and deepen your understanding of what all organisms need to survive. Finally, use your new knowledge to build a habitat for your very own organism! As a bonus, you’ll also visit with experts to discover more about exotic plants and animals! View Student Outcome Report.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Learn how plants and animals survive in their environment
  • Build your own habitat for an organism
  • Virtually tour zoos from around the country to learn about different animal adaptations
  • Develop a plan to raise awareness around an endangered species of your choice
  • Meet a scientist from the Van Andel Institute of Research

Who: Students enrolled in 4th and 5th grades in Fall 2022

Where: Van Andel Institute for Education, 216 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503

When: September 7–December 14, 2022
Mondays and Wednesdays, 4–6 PM
No cohort on November 23, 2022 due to Thanksgiving Break

Grades 5–6 | Ecosystem Explorers |
Spring 2022 | Applications Open


Applications Open

Do you know how ecosystems are important to our health? In this after school cohort, students will have the opportunity to learn how ecosystems work and why they matter by designing their own investigations using animals and plants. Plus, they’ll get to build their own living ecosystem, and visit with local environmental experts to learn about problems facing our ecosystems! View Student Outcome Report.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Build an ecosystem and learn how to make the organisms within it thrive
  • Design and build solutions to help prevent run-off from getting into our water
  • Learn about pollination and how it can affect our health
  • Discover how organisms adapt to different ecosystems to survive
  • Meet a scientist from the Van Andel Institute of Research

Who: Students enrolled in 5th and 6th grades in Spring 2022

Where: Van Andel Institute for Education, 216 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Spring 2022

When: January 18 – April 28, 2022
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4–6 PM
No cohort on April 5-7, 2022, due to Spring Break

Apply Now! Applications must be received by Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

Grades 6–7 | Biomedical Explorers | Fall 2021

Investigate the role model organisms play in helping us better understand human health. Discover the role DNA plays in inheritance, observe how organisms grow and develop, and study the environment’s impact on physiology. Visit a Van Andel Institute lab to learn about research from the experts. Conduct investigations to answer questions YOU want answered to learn how our health depends on genetic diversity. View Student Outcome Report

Who: Students enrolled in 6th and 7th grades in Fall 2021

Where: Van Andel Institute for Education, 216 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Fall 2021

When: September 8 – December 15, 2021
Mondays and Wednesdays, 4–6 PM

Human
Innovation

Explore how innovation improves quality of life.

Grades 4–5 | Space Engineers | Fall 2021

Blast off to worlds unknown as you explore space and the innovations that make space exploration possible. Discover challenges of human and robotic space exploration. Learn how robots are carried into space with rockets and how they land and move about on planetary bodies such as Mars. Design, build, and program LEGO® Mindstorm® robots to explore the surface and interior of space objects. View Student Outcome Report

Who: Students enrolled in 4th and 5th grades in Fall 2021

Where: Van Andel Institute for Education, 216 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Fall 2021

When: September  9 – December 16, 2021
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4–6 PM

Grades 5–6 | Disaster Detectives |
Fall 2022


Explore natural and manmade disasters and discover their impact on the world around us. Using engineering challenges, this virtual afterschool cohort will investigate how we predict, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. Gaining a better understanding of these powerful events can help limit future damage and ultimately protect humans from these forces of nature. View Student Outcome Report

Some of the guided activities: 

  • Learn about structural designs in buildings to help them resist various disasters
  • Design an earthquake resistant building
  • Create your own model to understand landslides, tsunamis, sinkholes, and earthquakes
  • Meet a scientist from the Van Andel Institute of Research

Who: Students enrolled in 5th and 6th grades in Fall 2022

Where: Van Andel Institute for Education

When: September 8–December 15, 2022
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4–6 PM
No cohort on November 24, 2022 due to Thanksgiving

Grades 6–7 | Energy Innovators |
Spring 2022 | Applications Open


Applications Open

Where would we be without energy? Students will Investigate energy and its many uses in our world through this cohort experience as they learn about traditional energy sources and explore alternative energies that will help power the future. Throughout the semester, students will explore the environmental and economic costs and benefits of energy used to move vehicles, and design their own car! View Student Outcome Report.

Some of the guided activities:

  • Design a car that operates on alternative energy
  • Discover how much energy household items use
  • Audit your home’s energy use and create a plan to save energy and money
  • Design and test a Wind Turbine
  • Design ways to harness the power of the sun’s energy
  • Meet a scientist from Van Andel Institute of Research

Who: Students enrolled in 6th and 7th grades in Spring 2022

Where: Van Andel Institute for Education, 216 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503

When: January 17 – April 27, 2022
Mondays and Wednesdays, 4–6 PM
No cohort on January 17th, February 21st, and April 4-6th, 2022.

Apply Now! Applications must be received by Wednesday, January 10, 2022.

Want to learn more about our free After School Cohort programs? Contact Randy Schregardus, Student Programs Manager, or fill out this form: