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Geothermal: Taming the Fireball.

Switch Energy, American Geosciences Institute

This video is one of a series of videos from the Switch Energy project. It describes three types of geothermal sources -- rare ones in which high temperatures are naturally concentrated near the surface, deep wells that require fracturing the rock and then circulating water to bring heat to the surface, and low temperature sources that use constant temperatures just below the surface to heat or cool a building. The latter two are more widely available but cost-prohibitive today.

Video length is 1:49 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts
High School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Consider using the Switch Energy website http://www.switchenergyproject.com/about/the-project to have students do a research project on the pros and cons of different types of energy sources. Then, as a class they can create an energy portfolio.
  • The webpage contains links to both excerpts and complete versions of the various interviews undertaken in this project. Students could explore how the excerpts relate to the complete interview to determine whether the excerpts do reflect the opinions of the interviewees.

About the Science

  • The Switch Energy project does not advocate for one technology over another or suggest how the transition from one to another should happen. It tries to determine how the transition actually would happen, based on scientifically-sound investigation and the practical realities of the world of energy.
  • Discussion of geothermal heat pumps is misleading. Other resources do a better job of explaining heat pump operation.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Video includes data and information that might be out of date in a few years. Information comes from US Department of Energy and the International Energy Agency, both of which are credible sources.

About the Pedagogy

  • Currently no educational support materials on the Switch Energy website but expected late 2013

Technical Details/Ease of Use

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

MS-PS3.A4:The term “heat” as used in everyday language refers both to thermal energy (the motion of atoms or molecules within a substance) and the transfer of that thermal energy from one object to another. In science, heat is used only for this second meaning; it refers to the energy transferred due to the temperature difference between two objects.

MS-PS3.A5:The temperature of a system is proportional to the average internal kinetic energy and potential energy per atom or molecule (whichever is the appropriate building block for the system’s material). The details of that relationship depend on the type of atom or molecule and the interactions among the atoms in the material. Temperature is not a direct measure of a system's total thermal energy. The total thermal energy (sometimes called the total internal energy) of a system depends jointly on the temperature, the total number of atoms in the system, and the state of the material.

MS-PS3.B3:Energy is spontaneously transferred out of hotter regions or objects and into colder ones.

MS-ESS3.A1:Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources. Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 2

Energy and Matter

MS-C5.3:Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion).

MS-C5.4:The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 5

HS-PS3.A1:Energy is a quantitative property of a system that depends on the motion and interactions of matter and radiation within that system. That there is a single quantity called energy is due to the fact that a system’s total energy is conserved, even as, within the system, energy is continually transferred from one object to another and between its various possible forms.

HS-PS3.A2:At the macroscopic scale, energy manifests itself in multiple ways, such as in motion, sound, light, and thermal energy.

HS-PS3.B2:Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Energy and Matter

HS-C5.3:Energy cannot be created or destroyed—only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems.

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