Summer Camp

Summer is a time for fun with friends, exploring interests and discovering new worlds! Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) is offering a unique summer camp experience for 2nd through 12th graders. Students will learn to think and act like scientists in hands-on and interactive investigations. Click on a toggle below to view details for each camp.

VAEI would like to recognize the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation for their generous support of this year’s Summer Camp programs. Their thoughtful gift has allowed us to impact the lives and futures of many more students and we’re truly grateful.

2018 Elementary & Middle School Camps | 2019 Schedule Coming Soon!

2nd – 3rd Grade | Can you Dig it?

Come explore the amazing world of fossils! Learn how fossils are formed, discovered, and used to help us understand Earth’s past. Participate in a fossil dig and create your very own fossil! Think and act like a true paleontologist as you explore, ask questions, and find answers to the mystery of prehistoric life. Continue your discoveries with a bonus trip to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum during one of your four days of fossil fun!

4th – 5th Grade | Animal Survivor: Pill Bugs, Newts & Geckos, Oh My!

Explore the world of animal adaptations in this week-long day camp. Study animal behavior, observe structural traits, and discover what helps animals survive in the wild. Learn about a variety of species including invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles through hands on investigations. Build your animal expertise as you learn to handle and interact with our resident animals and look to nature to inspire solutions to everyday problems.

4th – 5th Grade | Girl Scouts: Journey Through a Life in Space

In partnership with the Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore

Age: Girl Scouts (Juniors) entering 4th or 5th grade in the Fall of 2018

Did you know that virtually every female astronaut has been a Girl Scout? Join us through this summer series to discover what it’s like to live and work in space! During your five days at the institute, you’ll 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!

4th – 6th Grade | Life in Space: A Journey through the Extremes (ages 9 – 11)

In partnership with the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Explore the dangers associated with space travel and investigate ways to make space travel safe for humans. Conduct investigations in Earth and Space science, physics, biology, and engineering. Understand how our bodies work differently in space than on Earth, and investigate the use of robots to help explore hazardous places.

6th – 8th Grade | Crime Scene Forensics: Catching a Criminal

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

2018 High School Camps | 2019 Schedule Coming Soon!

The following daily camps are for 9th – 12th grade students.

Candy Crush with Gel Electrophoresis

Electrophoresis is commonly used by scientists to identify DNA and to test genes related to specific illnesses. Learn how to use this important technology by studying the dyes in your favorite candy. Use gel electrophoresis to separate color dyes just like scientists use it to separate DNA. Discover how molecules move through the gel medium and how the physical and/or chemical properties of each affect the distance each molecule travels.

DNA Fingerprinting: Who done it?


Discover how a crime scene forensic scientist uses DNA to identify and exonerate suspects. Participate in hands-on investigations, utilize gel electrophoresis to match the “crime” scene fingerprint to the fingerprints of various “suspects,” and learn more about what it’s like to be a crime scene investigator.

Water Quality: A “Grand” Experiment


Discover how environmental scientists monitor water quality of our freshwater sources. Walk from Van Andel Education Institute to the Grand River to determine the Water Quality Index using various chemical and biological tests. Return to VAEI and test the effect of your water sample on the heart rate of a model organism, Daphnia magna.

Engineering Design Challenge: Showering on Mars

Explore the challenges of living on Mars, and be a part of the solution. Design, test, and build a solar water heater to be used on the red planet. Work within the proposed criteria and constraints to successfully heat water to be used to take a shower were no one has taken a shower before!

Engineering Design Challenge: Robotics


Channel your inner engineer to design, build, and test a robotic device. Use the engineering design process to identify and refine possible solutions. Challenge yourself to think critically and creatively as you solve problems in a collaborative environment.

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.