Cutting Edge > Courses > Geophysics > Teaching Activities > Seismogram Patterns

Seismogram Patterns

Charles J. Ammon
,
Penn State
Author Profile

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.

This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Jul 31, 2007

Summary

I assign this homework on the first day of class, after discussing the nature of science and mathematics, and the integral role of patterns in scientific discovery. The specific goal is to have students carefully observe the patterns in seismograms, before we being a detailed investigation of the physics of seismic waves excitation and propagation.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Context

Audience

I use this in a 400-level course during the discussion of the nature of science and as an introduction to the fundamental observations in seismology - seismograms. Student observations are discussed during the next class meeting. Designed for a geophysics course

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

No skills other than an attention span, curiosity, and willingness to discuss their observations in class.

How the activity is situated in the course

I have a similar in-class patterns exercise on seismicity patterns that students work on an we discuss before I assign this as homework. I have a poster-sized version that I can bring in and refer to throughout the course, as we explore the features of seismograms more deeply.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The content goals are to introduce students to features in modern seismic observations (long periods in this case).

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The description of seismograms by students with little introduction to the subtleties of the waveforms requires that the students search their existing vocabulary to describe the patterns that make up most seismograms. Identifying seismogram patterns usually requires exercising the concepts about waves.

Other skills goals for this activity

Class discussion skills - working as a group to create a list of observations from a set of data.

Description of the activity/assignment

I assign this homework on the first day of class in my junior-senior level earthquake seismology course. The goal of the first class meeting is a discussion of the nature of science and mathematics, and the integral role of patterns in scientific discovery. I encourage students to discuss the observations with each other, with their friends, with anyone that they want. I have several goals for the assignment, including reinforcing the importance of patterns in science, and the relationship between science and mathematics, which is the study of abstract relationships and patterns. The other goal is to have students discover the features of seismograms on their own, before I point them out to them. I hope that makes them more receptive to our discussions of the physics underlying these observations, which occur throughout the course. Assessment is not based on an individual performance, but rather on how the students work together the next class meeting to create a substantial list of their observations, which also helps introduce discussion into the course early in the semester.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The goal is not an individual grade for each student. The next class students are asked to construct a list of observations based on the seismograms provided. I assess how they do during the discussion.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

See more Teaching Activities »