Shale Gas Webquest


The seventh alternative energy source considered in this course is natural gas derived from shale.  As you learned in Dr. Halsor's presentation on 23 November, shale rock (such as that found in the local Marcellus formation) contains significant amounts of trapped natural gas material.  Once extracted, the gas can be shipped to various parts of the country to power electrical plants, heat homes, or be used by various industries.

Many people believe that the gas in shale rock holds great promise as a viable alternative to "dirtier" fuels like coal, it is more abundant than oil, and does not have the long-term waste problems like nuclear fission.  Others are concerned with the environmental risks, especially to groundwater resources and surface waterways like streams and rivers.  Moreover, shale gas is a fossil fuel, and burning it will add greenhouse gasses to our atmosphere.

The purpose of this webquest is to enable teams of students to learn more about shale gas, 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 products of shale gas can provide a significant proportion of energy demand in the future?
  • Does everybody agree with that evidence?  If not, explain.
  • Dr. Halsor's presentation suggested that shale gas is geographically best developed in certain locations based on geology.
    • What are the reserves of shale gas worldwide?  In the US?  In Pennsylvania?
    • Approximately how much of the shale gas has been tapped at present?
    • Are some reserves too difficult to get to?
  • What environmental problems does shale gas extraction pose?  What benefits are there?
  • What social / political issues relate to shale gas development?  Specifically, what are the economic factors involved in shale gas development, both for companies and property owners?
  • Do any laws or regulations prevent the deployment of shale gas development?  How is shale gas production taxed?

On 4 December, student teams will conduct a webquest using the following websites:
Of course, you may work outside of class as a team to further research the topic, generate a synthesis, and formulate a presentation.

On 9 December, 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 14-15 minutes 12-13 minutes <12, >15 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

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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,