Project Archive: The Story of Earth: An Observational Guide

This is a snapshot of project information archived on 2 September 2022. Please contact the project team for most recent updates.

The Story of Earth: An Observational Guide

Subject: Environment & Earth Sciences

Book Language: English

Audience: College students in historical geology, an introductory level course

Book Cover:

Created date: February 26, 2020

Updated date: August 18, 2021

Target Release Date: 2021-01-01


  • Attribution
  • Non-Commercial
  • Share Alike


  • Copyeditors
  • Peer Reviewers
  • Contributors


Preview Chapters

You can preview our first 2 chapters below. Please note these are still in development and are likely to change.

Chapter 0 – Geologic Skills

Chapter 1 – Plate Tectonics


The level of this text will be geared towards students in introductory-level geology courses. We hope that other professors will see our passion for teaching within this lab manual and consider adopting it for their courses.

About the Content

Through our own teaching experiences we have found that students have difficulty making observations and interpreting them. Perhaps this is a result of the plethora of standardized tests students must take throughout their primary school career nonetheless, it is a problem that we have observed. Our goal in creating the material for this lab manual is to focus heavily on students making observations of geologic data, whether that be rocks, minerals, fossils, maps, graphs, and other things.

Using PressBooks as our platform, the lab manual will be readily available for students to view online, download, or print copies for themselves. We plan to include a detailed instructor’s manual as well as an image bank. We will provide maps, data sets, photographs and links to online resources such as fossil databases. At this time, we are not going to offer quizzes or tests as we encourage you to have a hands-on mode of instruction for all labs.


This lab manual will carry a CC BY-NC-SA license. Others are free to remix, adapt, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and license their new creations under the identical terms.

The Team

This project is led by Dr. Daniel Hauptvogel and Dr. Jinny Sisson, instructional faculty in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department of the University of Houston. Two graduate students, Carlos Andrade and Josh Flores, have contributed significantly to the development of exercises in this lab manual. Ariana Santiago is the OER coordinator for our campus library and has helped with the logistics of this journey. We are also guided by our colleagues, Dr. Rosalie Maddocks, former professor for this lab and Dr. Peter Copeland, who is writing a text for a lecture course. All inquiries should be directed to Dan Hauptvogel (



This project is supported by the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program at the University of Houston.


We began planning the lab manual in the Spring 2019 semester, with the development of most exercises in the Fall 2019 semester. Currently (Spring 2020) we are editing and finalizing the exercises, finding appropriate media, and writing the text for the manual. Our goal is to have a beta version available for our students for the Fall 2020 semester and then fully available for all interested parties for the Spring 2021 semester. We hope to find several peer reviewers to help for the Fall 2020 semester as well.

How to Get Involved

If you are interested in providing content, exercises, images, etc., we would be happy to speak with you about it and add you as a contributor. We are also interested in finding peer reviewers for the chapters, which will be available in the Fall 2020 semester. If you would like to provide content or peer review a chapter, please contact Dan Hauptvogel (

) or Jinny Sisson (

), or complete the inquiry form below.

Measures of Success

This is an ongoing discussion, but our success will be determined by the student and instructor feedback from our courses. We plan to offer a survey with a range of questions about what they liked and didn’t like about the book. Another measure will be if instructors from other universities adopt our lab manual.

Short Description:

The idea for this lab manual came from the lack of available texts and resources that we felt suited the needs of our teaching style and class. While there are plenty of options available, we felt that none were truly worth the cost to our students. Hence, we envisioned a completely customized lab manual that speaks to the nature of our teaching philosophy, one that gives our students a quality education and encourages them to observe and think about the world around them. Our Earth has a complicated evolution that needs stories and observations for students to understand.


1. Plate Tectonics

2. Minerals and Rocks

3. Geologic Time

4. Sedimentary Structures

5. Stratigraphy

6. Fossil Preservation

7. Fossils

8. Paleoenvironments

9. Geologic Structures and Mapping

10. Geologic Maps

11. Paleoclimate