Wind Power Webquest

Introduction

As you learned in my presentation, wind power depends upon the ability of moving air to drive blades on a turbine that in turn produces electricity.  It is renewable in the sense that we will never run out of moving air.  Also, wind power produces essentially no carbon emissions. 

As noted, wind power is one of the oldest sources of energy, providing the means to grind grain and pump water for centuries.  At the same time, he noted that wind is one of the most rapidly growing sources of alternative energy, spurred largely by rapid evolution in the development of turbines, blades, and towers.  New windfarms are being planned thoughout many regions of the United States and other countries, both on land and offshore.

Many people believe that wind holds great promise as a viable source of alternative energy, and believe that it can be a central component of efforts to sharply reduce use of fossil fuels.  They envision extensive build-out of windfarms - especially in areas like the midwest, off the Atlantic coastline, and in mountainous areas of the northeastern United States. Some people even talk about wind as being a primary transportation energy, powering electric trains and cars runnning on rechargable batteries.  Many states provide subsidies and have developed other policies to promote wind development.  Likewise, many energy companies that once focused on fossil fuels are now turning to wind.


Other people are more skeptical, pointing to the intermittent nature of wind, the relatively small output of turbines, and environmental problems including habitat fragmentation and mortality of birds and bats.  Many people simply don't want to see wind towers when they look out upon mountainous landscapes and seashores.  Some also complain about noise, light flicker, and potential dangers from ice throw, leaking lubricants, and wind turbine syndrome.  Companies proposing to develop windfarms routinely run into resistance by local residents seeking to stop the development of "industrial wind" in their areas.  Over time, the opponents have become better organized and many websites have been created to oppose specific wind projects.

In an attempt to better deal with issues arising from the deployment of wind, state and local agencies are developing ordinances to regulate windfarms.  Those ordinances are complemented by increased scrutiny and more uniformity in the way that regulatory agencies review plans submitted by wind companies.

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


Task

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 wind can provide a significant proportion of electrical demand in the future?
  • Does everybody agree with that evidence?  If not, explain.
  • We know that wind production is better developed in some locations than others. 
    • 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 are the technical impediments to development and deployment of wind power?
  • Can those impediments be overcome?
  • What environmental problems does wind power pose?
  • What social / political problems?
  • Can those problems be overcome?
  • Do any laws or regulations impact the deployment of new wind power?
  • Is wind power truly sustainable?  What is the life span of new windfarms?
Process

Student teams will conduct a webquest using the following websites:
On 3 December, student teams assigned this topic will each give a 20 minute Powerpoint-based presentation in which they will answer the questions.

Evaluation

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

Team-based items

Item
5
3
1
Introduction
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
Objectives
Clearly outlined
Presented in a general way, but one or more details confusing
Not clearly indicated
Number of bullet points addressed
4-5
3
1-2
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
Citations
Consistently and accurately provided
Mostly provided, or some inaccuracies
Generally not provided, or grossly inaccurate
Powerpoint text
Clearly legible
Mostly legible
Poorly legible
Images
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
Conclusion
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:

Item
5
3
1
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
Attitude
Upbeat, professional demeanor
Some unprofessional comments / mannerisms at times
Significant unprofessional demeanor
Audibility
Excellent
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
Excellent
Good
None
Diction
Excellent
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.