Earth and Environmental Sciences are among the most accessible of scientific disciplines to the general public.   Rocks, minerals, fossils, oil, gas, and other economically important earth materials; earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, drought and groundwater pollution are familiar to even casual observers of the environment in which they live.  Consequently, our Department fields scores of requests annually from the public for identification of geological materials (rocks, minerals, fossils) and information on geological processes, especially earthquakes. 

Our faculty and students have a culture of innovative outreach in K-12 classrooms, science fairs, and university-sponsored science events.  National Fossil Day (NFD), which has quickly grown to rival DDD in single-day attendance at the MSU Museum.  The success of DDD and NFD point to the popularity and accessibility of fossils and to the public’s thirst for authoritative information and hands-on opportunities centered on fossils, evolution, and the history of life on Earth.

Darwin Discovery Day photo

Natural hazards, especially earthquakes, are another area in which EES faculty are uniquely qualified for and actively engaged in public outreach/informal science education.  Professor Fujita serves as liaison to MESTA (Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association) and IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology), an NSF-funded consortium of over 120 universities and laboratories nation-wide.  A joint venture between MESTA and IRIS in which EES faculty have participated is MIQuakes, a program to deploy seismographs in schools across Michigan.

Specific outreach activities with EESinvolvement include:

Darwin Discovery Day  Now in its second decade, DDD attracts over 800 visitors annually and relies on the volunteer efforts of over 100 MSU graduate and undergraduate students and the participation of faculty and staff from about 20 units from across campus. February

 Get up close to reptiles, amphibians and other critters, identify artifacts such as bones and fossils, learn about Darwin's life and work, and more. See the MSU Museum's web page for details.

National Fossil Day photo

National Fossil Day: An afternoon of hands-on activities center on fossils at the MSU Museum, held in October in conjunction with the US Park Service's National Fossil Day.

MSU Science Festival: A week of lectures, demonstrations, hands-on activitites, held in April

Web resources:

Geolog: a web-based audio program covering topics related to Earth history, from Earth's origin 4.6 billion years ago to Pleistocene glaciation and modern day climate change.

Michigan Geology Resources

Photo of a river

New!  Geology of the "Mitten"--Thumbnail descriptions of field trip sites in the Lower Peninsula.

Paleoportal.org: Click on the map of the US to find out about the geologic history of each state, accompanied by photographs of fossils, organized by geologic period.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality: many resources about Michigan geology available here, including information on Geology in Michigan.