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Van Andel Institute Introduces STEM Platform 'For Teachers By Teachers'

The Van Andel Institute (VAI) is set to introduce “NexGen Inquiry,” a not-for-profit, science investigation platform for K-12 STEM teachers and students.

NexGen Inquiry is a cloud-based, interactive science investigation organizer built by teachers for teachers. It is the result of over a decade of work with students and science educators at the Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) Science Academy and spearheads a national effort to provide K-12 teachers the tools they need to revolutionize STEM education in the U.S. The platform will be available for a minimal fee in July 2015, but is accepting applications for a free trial for a limited time.

"Ninety-eight percent of teachers say they lack the digital tools they need, according to a 2014 survey by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation," said Jerry Callahan, Ph.D., M.S., vice president of strategic projects at VAI.

Despite the increase in technology within classrooms across the nations, there still doesn’t seem to be enough to go around. VAI’s NexGen platform is another organization tool for educators similar to Amazon Whispercast but geared towards STEM education.

"NexGen Inquiry helps teachers leverage existing curriculum with a digital solution for student-centered, inquiry-based learning. It answers the growing need for enhanced science education to build the nation's science, technology, engineering and math capacity and meet the demands of an increasingly complex and technical world."

A self-confessed "change zealot," Callahan has more than 20 years of administrative, teaching, and startup experience, having built one of the country's first fully accredited online degree programs. He has founded and launched five companies focused on advancing science and education.

Currently, Callahan is the project manager for the Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) Science Academy's newest product, NexGen Inquiry, a cloud-based, interactive, science-investigation organizer.

Educators know what they need in order to effectively communicate their lessons to students. STEM curriculum has been a growing concern for President Barack Obama as he aims to push students to the forefront of careers in these concentrations. NexGen is one more step in helping educators create a tool to help them complete the STEM initiative.  

The new platform is expected to be available during a May 19 event from 6-8 p.m. at Chez. Darren Moore, Ph.D., associate professor and head of the Laboratory for Molecular Neurodegeneration at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI).

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Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor

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