May 07, 2013 | Matt KucinskiMyrna Anderson

Andrew Vanden Heuvel ’04 is the first educator to get his hands on the company’s new prototype for a wearable computer, Google Glass. Using the prototype, he taught a class from the tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

His pupils were seated in a classroom at South Christian High School in Grand Rapids. It is the first science class taught from inside the LHC tunnel:

“The fact that I was able to share this experience with students, even answering their questions in real-time, is simply mind-blowing,” he said.

Google made a video of his experience, which, to date, has had more than 350,000 views.

Leading the way

Vanden Heuvel, who teaches online astronomy courses at Calvin, is one of 8,000 Google Explorers serving as the test group for the Google Glass prototype. He’s the only Explorer thus far to handle the technology.

Now, back in Grand Rapids, Vanden Heuvel is already busy thinking of ways to incorporate the new prototype into his Calvin classes. One of his strategies is to make hands-free, first-person recordings showing students how to set-up astronomical equipment and experiments.

“To make a recording from a student’s point of view of using that equipment would allow online students to experience that as if they were in the lab,” he said.

Creating opportunities

Vanden Heuvel’s passion for online education stems from his desire to provide students with flexibility and greater access in their educational experience.

“It’s really exciting to think about [making] Calvin accessible to people around the world,” he said. “It’s exactly the same for someone in South Africa and for someone sitting in Grand Rapids to take my astronomy class. There’s tremendous potential for opening up what’s happening at Calvin globally.”

Vanden Heuvel spends much of his time working with the non-profit Michigan Virtual School, where he has created online courses in physics, biology, pre-calculus, calculus and astronomy for K-12 students.

In 2011, Vanden Heuvel was recognized as Michigan’s Online Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for the national honor.

“Andrew’s a very talented teacher, always had a heart for teaching, a deep love for astronomy and he shares that passion with his students,” said Calvin physics and astronomy professor Deb Haarsma.  … “He has the skills to communicate in an online medium, making it an effective learning platform.”

To learn more about Vanden Heuvel’s work, visit

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