Four overarching “big ideas” in Earth system science form the basis for our CoreKids program: Earth is ancient, Earth is constantly changing, Earth is rich in natural resources and, lastly, human life impacts Earth.

Current CoreKids learning modules use geologic resources based at WMU’s Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education and the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences in Rood Hall, including samples and data from across Michigan, to illustrate these “big ideas” in ways that are relevant to students’ lives and/or their immediate surroundings.


The CoreKids program currently offers six modules: Michigan geologic history, hydrogeology, shale energy and hydraulic fracking, Michigan fossils, natural hazards and the environment and climate change. The natural hazards module is comprised of three full-length sub-modules: volcanoes, earthquakes and impacts and asteroids. Each module and submodule is designed for a fifty minute session and includes a brief presentation and hands-on activities. Michigan Department of Education Grade Level Content Standards are available for each module by request. Additional information can be found in our annual reports.

  • Environment and climate change (grades 6-12)

    What controls the Earth’s climate?  How do glaciers work?  What impact does pavement have on rainfall?
  • Hydrogeology (grades 7-12)

    What is the water cycle? What happens to rainwater when it falls onto land? What is an aquifer? What is porosity? What is permeability? How can aquifers get contaminated? What is the role of a hydrogeologist? How do they remove contaminants from polluted sites?
  • Michigan fossils (grades 6-12)

    What is a fossil?  How does an animal become a fossil?  How can we use fossil teeth to infer diets of ancient organisms?
  • Michigan geologic history (grades 3-12)

    What is Michigan’s state stone? What can fossils tell us about past environments? How did the Great Lakes form? Why do we have underground salt deposits in Michigan? What natural resources can we obtain from rocks?
  • Natural hazards (grades 6-12)

    How do earthquakes occur? Are all earthquakes the same? Why do volcanoes erupt? What is a tsunami? How is the Earth affected by meteorites from space? How are we are humans, affected by these natural hazards? This module contains three full-length sub-modules:
    • Sub-module #1: Volcanoes
    • Sub-module #2: Earthquakes
    • Sub-module #3: Impacts and Asteroids
  • Shale energy and hydraulic fracking (grades 6-12)

    What is natural gas and how does it form? What are the benefits and uses of natural gas? Where is the Antrim Shale formation and what is are its economic benefits to Michigan? How is natural gas extracted and what is hydraulic fracturing? What are the concerns related to hydraulic fracturing?