Since the partnership formed in 2012 and was initiated last year, the institute and eight schools in the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District have partnered to create more inquiry-based lessons for grades 6-12.
The Grand Haven district has 28 teachers in the program and Spring Lake Public Schools has 13 teachers involved.
In addition to science, Spring Lake Intermediate School sixth-grade science teacher Monica Archambault said the program’s model encourages habits of the mind such as life skills, teamwork and collaboration.
“It’s a good way to bring science investigation to them in a manageable way,” she said.
Matthew Hirsch, who works in the communications and marketing department for Van Andel Education Institute, said the partnership gives teachers an approach to teach science in a way their students will find more engaging, enjoyable and more effective in acquiring critical-thinking skills.
Hirsch said educators recognized a need for changing science instructions from learning facts to hands-on learning, in which students ask and test questions about how the natural world works. He said the need is addressed using an approach to science instruction that has been developed in the past eight years at the institute, which is a series of lab activities that model the use of Van Andel’s Question, Prediction, Observation, Explanation and Evaluation Inquiry model.
The institute is involved with similar partnerships with the Kent Intermediate School District, Allegan Area Education Service Agency, and independent school districts in west and central Michigan.
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