GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Dec. 8, 2020) — Do you know a student who loves science? Are you looking for an after-school program that’s both free and fun? Van Andel Institute for Education is accepting applications for our Spring 2021 Afterschool Cohorts, now presented in a virtual format.

Aimed at grades 4–6, the Afterschool Cohort programs inspires students who are curious and creative, while also giving them the opportunity to think and act like scientists. They even get to meet a VAI scientist and learn more about the research happening at the Institute.

To reduce screen time and ensure a fun learning experience, our virtual cohorts are designed to get students up, moving, and experimenting with unique, hands-on investigations!

The Spring 2021 Afterschool Cohort (Gr. 4–6) lineup includes: 

  • Species Explorers (Gr. 4–5): Students explore our living world through observation of plants and animals. They’ll learn about our resident animal friends and deepen their understanding of what all organisms need to survive. Finally, they’ll use their new knowledge to build a
    habitat for their very own organism. As a bonus, students will also visit with experts to
    discover more about exotic plants and animals!
  • Disaster Detectives (Gr. 5–6): Students investigate natural and manmade disasters to
    discover their impact on the world around us. By understanding these different forces,
    students will be able to help local communities better prepare and respond. Gaining a better understanding of these powerful events can help limit future damage and ultimately protect humans from these forces of nature.

Participation is secured on a first-come, first served basis. There is no cost; tuition is underwritten by Van Andel Institute.

For more information on available sessions, including their dates and times, visit




Van Andel Institute (VAI) is committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations through cutting edge biomedical research and innovative educational offerings. Established in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1996 by the Van Andel family, VAI is now home to more than 400 scientists, educators and support staff, who work with a growing number of national and international collaborators to foster discovery. The Institute’s scientists study the origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translate their findings into breakthrough prevention and treatment strategies. Our educators develop inquiry-based approaches for K-12 education to help students and teachers prepare the next generation of problem-solvers, while our Graduate School offers a rigorous, research-intensive Ph.D. program in molecular and cellular biology. Learn more at