2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
Paper No. 208-11
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM-4:45 PM

THE GEOTHERMAL GAME: AN AUTHENTIC, PROBLEM-BASED SIMULATION USED TO TEACH GEOTHERMAL ENERGY EXPLORATION AND EXPLOITATION CONCEPTS

DOHANEY, Jacqueline1, POWELL, Tom2, GRAVLEY, Darren M.1, and KENNEDY, Ben1, (1) Geological Sciences, The University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand, jdohaney@gmail.com, (2) Mighty River Power, Level 14, 23-29 Albert Street, P O Box 90399, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand

Geothermal energy is approximately 10% of the national energy budget in New Zealand, sourced from high temperature reservoirs within the Taupo Volcanic Zone. It is a ‘green’ resource and a potential source of employment for graduating geology students.

Interviews with geothermal professionals have identified scientific, economic and social issues that energy companies must take into consideration when performing exploration practices. These issues are often not taught in the geological curriculum. A problem-based simulation was designed in 2010 as part of the Frontiers Abroad Programme to teach undergraduate students about geothermal resource exploration. Students (n=12) were broken up into several groups and instructed to work together as a geological team in order to target geothermal anomalies. Geological data was given to the teams iteratively, in a multi-stage process. At the end of each ‘stage’, students presented their analyses to the ‘Board of Directors’ which was made up of geothermal professionals who played realistic stakeholder roles.

The issues identified by the geothermal professionals have been converted to learning goals for the Game. Here, they are incorporated in a problem-based learning strategy that includes other pedagogical elements such as: 1. collaborative and authentic learning, 2. role-play, and 3. instant, iterative feedback from ‘experts’. Each of these pedagogical design elements should help students develop ‘real-world’ skills, such as: a. geochemical characterization of geothermal waters, b. exploration and production well targeting, c. proven resource estimate calculation, d. logistical and budgetary limitations, and e. community and culturally-related considerations, which included consulting with Mori Iwi leaders and agricultural land owners.

Preliminary data were collected in order to characterize student engagement from this activity. Observation data indicated that students were highly engaged and student feedback (collected from post-fieldtrip surveys) was very positive indicating that students were excited about learning this applied topic. Future iterations of ‘The Geothermal Game’ will allow us to refine the authenticity of the simulation, quantify student engagement and learning gains in order to develop a widely accessible virtual version.

2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 208
Energy Education in the Geoscience Classroom: Preparing Future Citizens, Scientists, and Policy Makers
Colorado Convention Center: Room 201
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 42, No. 5, p. 497

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