STEM & Maker Activity 19

Build a Dam
Supplies, instructions, resources, and worksheets are below!

Build a Dam!

Project Description
What are dams and why do we build them? In this STEM activity, you’ll plan, design, build and test a dam using natural materials and some household supplies. Learn about dams around the world and their history with the resources below.

Activity Time
1 day

Supplies Recommended
Investigative Worksheet
Large rectangle plastic container
Water from a hose or large plastic liter bottle
Natural things to create the dam such as rocks, sticks, leaves, mud, etc.
NOTE: This project should be done outdoors or in place that allows for a mess and water accidents

Learning Objectives
Understand how what dams are used for
Understand how dams are built
Understand force
Gain design and engineering skills

Vocabulary Terms to Understand
Look up each word and write their definition on paper.
emergency spillway
base width
training walls

Instructional Videos

1. Print the Investigative Worksheet and use it to document the steps of your project.
2. Watch the instructional video above.
3. Go outside and collect the natural things you will use to build your dam. These can be rocks, sticks, leaves, acorns, etc. Anything naturally found outdoors can be used.
4. Use the rectangle plastic container to build your dam in.
5. Use the natural materials to build your dam inside of the plastic container. Put the dam about in about the middle of the container.
6. After the dam is built, slowly pour water into one side of the dam.
7. Does your dam hold water? Why or why not? Document it on your Investigative Worksheet.

Why would you build a dam?
What is hydropower?
What are the benefits of building dams?

Invitation to Build: Create a Dam (alternative)
Alternative Lego Build a Dam Activity
Dam Forces (activity)
Dams: What Are They, and What They Do
Hoover Dam (Summary)
Ducksters: Hydropower
Britannica: Hoover Dam
Wiki: Dam
Softschools: Hoover Dam Facts
Dams: History and Purpose

Building the Hoover Dam

25 Tallest Dams in the World