Why Do We Build Dams?

Why Do We Build Dams?

Watch this brief, video picture of practice that captures everyday classroom life and provides real-life examples of how students learn and think about freshwater topics.

Grades

3 - 8

Subjects

Earth Science

When students are asked about dams, most of them recognize that dams form lakes behind them and, therefore, store water. Students may not be clear about why this water is being stored, and other functions of the dams, such as making hydropower or the possibility of reducing the risk of downstream flooding during small or medium-sized rains. Dams play an important role in the American West, especially in states such as California, which has many large urban areas and a vast agricultural industry that depends upon an extensive network of dams and canals. Teaching about dams can help students understand why dams are necessary for our communities, as well as how they affect the natural habitat along the rivers and canyons in which they are built.

Watch this video of 3rd and 6th grade students in inland and coastal communities in California. The purpose of this classroom video is to see how students describe dams in order to help you prepare for instruction on the topic.

For additional classroom context, video analysis, and reflection opportunities, read the Picture of Practice page for "Why Do We Build Dams?" in the Earth's Freshwater Environmental Literacy Teacher Guide, page 59.

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Writers
Ari J. Posner, M.S. Urban Planning, Ari J. Posner, M.S. Urban Planning
Beth A. Covitt, Ph.D. Environmental Education and Conservation Psychology, Beth A. Covitt, Ph.D. Environmental Education and Conservation Psychology
Tania T. Hinojosa, M.Ed. Educational Technology, Tania T. Hinojosa, M.Ed. Educational Technology
Jose Marcos-Iga, Ph.D. Natural Resources, Jose Marcos-Iga, Ph.D. Natural Resources
Marcia S. Matz, M.A. Design, Marcia S. Matz, M.A. Design
Tara G. Treiber, B.A. Natural Sciences: Ecology, Tara G. Treiber, B.A. Natural Sciences: Ecology
Sandra Postel, National Geographic Fellow, Sandra Postel, National Geographic Fellow
Abraham Miller-Rushing, Ph.D. Biology, Abraham Miller-Rushing, Ph.D. Biology
Anica Miller-Rushing, M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction, Anica Miller-Rushing, M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction
Lindsey Mohan, Ph.D. Educational Psychology and Technology, Lindsey Mohan, Ph.D. Educational Psychology and Technology
Designer
Cindy Olson, Cindy Olson
Editors
Kristen Dell, National Geographic Society,
Lindsey Mohan, Ph.D.,
Chelsea Zillmer,
Educator Reviewers
Catie Boarts, Heal the Bay, Catie Boarts, Heal the Bay
Beth A. Covitt, University of Montana, Beth A. Covitt, University of Montana
Jenny D. Ingber, Jenny D. Ingber
Meghan E. Marrero, New York State Marine Education, Meghan E. Marrero, New York State Marine Education
Marcia S. Matz, Marcia S. Matz
Sandra Postel, National Geographic Fellow, Sandra Postel, National Geographic Fellow
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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