Solar Power Webquest


As you learned in my presentation, solar power is derived from the flux of photons from the sun.  It is the source of most biological productivity thanks to photosynthesis.  Solar energy can be used directly to provide heat and light, such as through celestory windows or solar tubes.  Or it can be trapped by solar panels and converted into electricity via a photovoltaic or thermal process.

The use of solar power has significantly increased in the past decade, due largely to declines in the cost of technologies to capture the sun's energy and convert it into a form that people can use.  Many people believe that solar power has great potential to provide far more of our heating, lighting, electricity, and even transportation needs than it does now.  The most ardent advocates even believe that solar power should be THE dominant form of energy in the decades to come.  Others believe that solar power has limited potential, especially in areas that do not receive significant sunlight.  They contend that the costs associated with solar energy are large compared to the benefits.

The purpose of this webquest is to enable teams of students to learn more about solar, and determine its potential to serve as a significant source of renewable 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 solar can provide a significant proportion of energy demand in the future?
  • Does everybody agree with that evidence?  If not, explain.
  • During my presentation, I suggested that solar energy has been best developed in areas having high sunlight and low cloud cover such as tropical and desert areas. 
    • Can energy production from solar energy be enhanced in those areas?
    • Can energy production from solar energy be developed in less sunny areas (such as northern Europe, or northeastern and northwestern U.S.?
  • What environmental problems does solar energy pose?  Are those problems real or exaggerated?
  • What social / political problems?
  • Do any laws or regulations prevent the deployment of solar energy in the US? Other industrialized countries?  Non industrialized countries?

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 <18, >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

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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,