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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.
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