Author:  Kaylene Murray

Grade Level:  Early Elementary



    Build a model of a dam and label it correctly.

    Map of Africa, pictures of dams, a granite rock, bread pans or wallpaper troughs (enough for one demo model, and several small group models), Plasticene modeling compound, Lego Building Blocks (or other similar brand), small containers for pouring water, paper and tape for labels.

    1.  Show students a map of Africa, and point to the Nile River.  Explain that this is the longest river in the world, and it flows from south to north.  It is 4,187 miles long, which is almost the same distance from Alaska to Florida.
    2.  Explain to students that heavy seasonal rainfall in the southern areas of the Nile during April and May caused yearly flooding in Egypt, usually in October.  These floods destroyed the crops and washed away valuable soil.  To better manage the waters of the Nile River, the people of Egypt decided to build a dam.
    3.  Ask the students these questions:   What is a dam?  What happens to the water when you build a dam?  Why would people want this?  Discuss these answers so that students have an understanding of dams.  Show pictures of dams, if possible.
    4.  Tell students that dams are built from different materials such as dirt, concrete, or rock.  The Aswan High Dam is built of granite rock which comes from the quarries near Aswan.  If possible, show students a sample of a granite rock.
    5.  Tell students that today, in their small groups, they will get to build a model of a dam.  Teacher demonstrates the process of building the dam inside a bread pan or wallpaper trough, by using Plasticene modeling compound as the earthen sides, and a wall (constructed of Lego's or other tight-fitting blocks) to act as the dam.  When the dam is finished, pour some water behind the dam to test the strength and quality of construction.
    6.  Check for understanding, form small groups of students, and distribute materials.  To help students correctly spell the parts of the dam, the teacher should write these words on the board:  Lake Nasser, Aswan High Dam, surrounding earth/land.
    7.  When finished, students should label the parts of the dam on their model.   Display the models in the classroom.
    Did the students successfully build a model of a dam?  Did they successfully label it?

Note:  There are hundreds of books available on dams.  Check local libraries for their holdings, and then place these books in the classroom library for silent reading time.  To expand this lesson and integrate across the curriculum, there are connections to math, science, reading, writing, art, and health.


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