Hydropower Webquest


As you learned in my presentation, hydropower is derived from the movement of water, especially in rivers.  Most hydropower is produced at dams, where a reservoir is created and flow through the dam can be easily captured.  In some cases, water flowing down natural waterfalls is captured and converted into electricity.

For centuries, people took advantage of hydropower to propel machines like mills for grinding grains or saws for cutting lumber.  The use of hydropower to create electricity was quickly realized at the end of the 19th Century.  The middle of the 20th Century saw great growth in hydropower, especially in the United States.  The last few decades has seen relatively little increase in hydropower development in the U.S., mainly because all of the major rivers have already been harnessed.  Instead, hydropower development has occurred mostly overseas, particularly in China.

Many people believe that hydropower still holds great promise as a viable alternative to coal and nuclear fission for generating electricity.

The purpose of this webquest is to enable teams of students to learn more about hydropower, and determine its potential to continue 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 hydropower can provide a significant proportion of electrical demand in the future?
  • Does everybody agree with that evidence?  If not, explain.
  • We know that hydropower, especially for electrical generation is localized. 
    • Can production be enhanced in those areas in which it is already developed?
    • Can production be developed in areas where it is now minimally developed?
  • What potential does novel application of hydropower (e.g., capturing tidal flows) hold?
  • What environmental problems does hydropower pose?
  • What social / political problems?
  • Do any laws or regulations prevent the deployment of new hydropower?
  • Is hydropower truly sustainable?

Student teams 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 a rubric under development.  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 minute

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
Good (minor reading or a bit too much focus on screen) Poor (too much reading or excessive focus on screen)
Rate of information delivery Excellent
Slightly too fast or too slow
Significantly too fast or too slow
Eye contact with audience
Some sluring or mispronunciation of a few words
Significant sluring or mispronunciations throughout presentation

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