What Have We Done?

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is to give students a chance to investigate the effects of dams on the ecosystem of a region (the long-term effects that are not anticipated).

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Sixty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • use case studies to determine the effects dams have on the ecosystem of a region.
  • use knowledge gained from case studies to take a position on the construction of dams in a region.
  • identify the role governments and industry play in the construction of dams.
  • Definitions (Attachment One)
  • Case Studies (Attachment Two)
Home Connection 

Students will be expected to complete the writing assignment as a homework exercise.



  1. Anticipatory Set: As students enter the room, have a picture or overhead image of a dam being projected on the overhead. Ask students to think about the purpose of a dam and to share their ideas with the class. How do business, agriculture, and industry benefit from the building of dams?

  2. Use Definitions (Attachment One) to define "common resources" and "stewardship." Ask students to describe how our water resources are common resources. In what ways are we stewards of these resources?

  3. Distribute Case Studies (Attachment Two) with half the class receiving the Aswan Dam and the other half the Colorado River Basin. Have students read their cases. After reading the short case studies, ask students to pair up with another student with the same reading. Ask the students to construct a T-graph to compare the positive and negative effects damming has had on their region.

  4. Students will then form a "square" with the pairs of students joining other pairs that have the other case study results. During this time, students will be comparing their T-graphs. As a whole group, list comparisons between the Nile River and the Colorado River based on their T-graphs.

  5. Students will write a position paper for or against the damming projects that they have studied. The format of these papers may follow the format of "Now that we know all the effects these dams will have on the region, what would you recommend to these governments if you could time travel back to the time the dams were being built?"


Student T-graphs will be evaluated. Students will also be assessed on their position paper.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Define <i>stewardship</i> as a trust of common resources held by a community for citizens.
      2. Benchmark MS.7 Give examples of common resources in the community.
      3. Benchmark MS.9 Recognize problems different communities encounter using a "commons" and possible solutions.