Meet Mr. Alvin, Middle School Science
“I don’t want to just teach them the facts. I want students to go and explore, figure things out for themselves and learn how to apply that knowledge to real life situations. I want to get them to a place where they imagine, problem solve, and really contemplate everything rather than accepting ‘facts’ at face value.”– Mr. Alvin
Mr. Alvin teaches 5th-8th grade science at the Innocademy Zeeland campus. He’s been with the school for seven years and taught science and other subjects for years before joining Innocademy. Science has always been Mr. Alvin’s passion and he loves the rewarding nature of working with kids. His favorite part about teaching at Innocademy is the nature-based approach to learning that gets the students outside the classroom. “We don’t just talk about water pollution in the classroom,” said Mr. Alvin. “We go to the Macatawa river and measure it. The students collect real data and then present their findings and develop a plan to help; it’s a real application of actual data. And it’s something middle schoolers can do by themselves.”
Mr. Alvin’s passion for getting his students outside the classroom took him and several student teams to a student bridge competition. His students proposed and constructed 16-inch balsa wood bridges with an eye for structural integrity and safety. They then competed against dozens of other middle school and high school teams. Mr. Alvin enjoys activities like the competition because they’re a great interconnection of curricular disciplines like english and writing, building and design, competition and public speaking.
“It’s inspiring to see the kids have a new experience or try something for the first time, even simple things like staying in a hotel for the bridge competition, or seeing ice on Lake Michigan,” said Mr. Alvin. “Students just light up when they experience something new. It’s important that they never lose that amazement, that enthusiasm and anticipation of seeing and doing new or cool things.”
Mr. Alvin is inspired by watching his students grow and change and apply his lessons to real-life scenarios, “I always tell kids we aren’t here to learn a bunch of facts so you can do well on Jeopardy. I want you to do something with what you learn. You should apply your knowledge to solve a problem, build something, make a model, don’t just memorize facts.”
Outside of Innocademy, Alvin continues his goal of getting outdoors. He enjoys hiking, camping and playing board games and other activities with his family.