Geothermal Energy Webquest


As you learned in my presentation, geothermal energy is derived from the fact that the earth's mantle and core hold tremedous heat - largely due to pressures deep below the earth's surface.  That heat is evident whenever there are thin areas in the earth's crust, especially in regions of volcanic activity, hot springs, and geyser fields.

For centuries, people took advantage of the earth's heat by using it to directly warm their homes or for bathing purposes.  We have also long known that energy from the earth's mantle can be used indirectly to create electricity.  The link comes through steam, which can drive electrical generators.

Many people believe that geothermal energy holds great promise as a viable alternative to coal, shale gas, and nuclear fission for generating electricity.  Others are not so sure, due to their belief that geothermal has limitations.

The purpose of this webquest is to enable teams of students to learn more about geothermal energy, and determine its potential to serve as a significant source of alternative energy in the future.


The teams assigned to this webquest are to review the websites listed below.  Students in those teams are to answer the following questions:
  • What evidence supports the idea that geothermal energy can provide a significant proportion of electrical demand in the future?
  • Does everybody agree with that evidence?  If not, explain.
  • We know that geothermal energy generation is localized. 
    • Can production be enhanced in those areas in which it is already developed?
    • Can production be developed in areas (like Pennsylvania) where geothermal is minimally developed?
  • What environmental problems does geothermal pose?
  • What social / political problems?
  • Do any laws or regulations prevent the deployment of geothermal energy?
  • What emerging technologies may enhance the utilization of geothermal?
  • Can geothermal energy run out?

Student teams assigned to this topic will conduct a webquest using the following websites:
On 19 November, student teams assigned this topic will each give a 20 minute Powerpoint-based presentation in which they will answer the questions.


Students will be evaluated using the following rubric.  The grade will reflect both an individual and a team performance.

Team-based items

First one-two minutes clearly understandable, audience led into the objectives of the talk
First one-two minutes mostly understandable, audience should be partly prepared for objectives of the talk
First one-two minutes generally not understanable, audience not really prepared for objectives of the talk
Clearly outlined
Presented in a general way, but one or more details confusing
Not clearly indicated
Number of bullet points addressed
Bullet 1
Discussion provided substantial insight into online resources, accurate presentation of information in articles, clear synthesis that goes well beyond rehashing posted information.
Discussion provided acceptable insight into online resources, presentation of information in articles generally accurate, some synthesis beyond rehashing posted information
Discussion provided superficial insight into online resources, evident inaccuracies in way that presentation of information in articles was presented, little synthesis beyond rehashing posted information
Bullet 2
See above
See above See above
Bullet 3
See above See above See above
Bullet 4 See above See above See above
Consistently and accurately provided
Mostly provided, or some inaccuracies
Generally not provided, or grossly inaccurate
Powerpoint text
Clearly legible
Mostly legible
Poorly legible
All clear and appropriate A few unclear or not appropriate
Many unclear or not appropriate
Integration of Powerpoint between speakers
Well integrated
Partly integrated
Not integrated
Clearly executed, excellent summary of main points and synthesis
Generally well executed with acceptable summary of main points and synthesis
None or poorly executed, with unclear summary and / or no real synthesis
Length 18-21 minutes 16-18 minutes <16, >21 minutes

Individual-based items:

Level of contribution to overall team effort
Clearly an integral part of overall effort
Secondary level of contribution to overall effort
Minor level of contribution to overall effort
Level of knowledge about topic
Clearly excellent grasp
Generally good grasp, some minor uncertainty
Clear level of uncertainty about topic
Upbeat, professional demeanor
Some unprofessional comments / mannerisms at times
Significant unprofessional demeanor
Rate of information delivery
Slightly too fast or too slow
Significantly too fast or too slow
Eye contact with audience
Good (minor reading or a bit too much focus on screen)
Poor (too much reading or excessive focus on screen)
Some sluring or mispronunciation of a few words
Significant sluring or mispronunciations throughout presentation

Return to Homepage for BIO/EES 105

This page posted and maintained by Kenneth M. Klemow, Ph.D., Biology Department, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766. (570) 408-4758,