Hoover Dam, a film from American Experience, tells the story of this amazing engineering accomplishment.
Building Big: Dams is a great PBS resource for teachers and students. Dam Basics covers types of dams, while Wonders of the World introduces students to eight famous dams. Have your students learn about the role of the dam engineer, and then take the Dam Challenge where they must decide what to do with problematic dams. In the Under Pressure activity, students compare water pressure at the bottom and top of a dam.
Dam Resources for Teachers
National Geographic has some excellent resources for educators to help you teach about dams. Several of these include complete lesson plans and leveled articles differentiated for 3rd-12th grades.
Why Do We Build Dams? — an instructional video for teachers that demonstrates student understanding about dams
The Association of State Dam Safety Officials has a site full of ideas for teachers and kids. You’ll find instructions for building a model dam, information on different types of dams, hands-on activities, and a collection of videos.
Student-friendly graphics can help your students understand more about how dams work. Take a Tour of a Hydroelectric Project for deeper comprehension of hydropower. The Fish Passage Tour demonstrates fish ladders, spillways, bypass systems and more.
Teach Engineering has a terrific collection of lesson plans designed to help students understand the value, impact, and purposes of dam construction. There are eight standards-aligned lessons appropriate for 4th-6th grades, accompanied by nine hands-on activities that give students the opportunity to create dams, waterwheels, and engineering projects of their own. You’ll want to take a look at this site!