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STEM Engineering Activity: Create a Dam

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After a rainfall is a perfect time to get your kids outside and do this awesome stem engineering activity. Challenge them to build a dam!

Create a Dam

Exploring Nature and Water with Kids

When it comes to getting kids outside, it isn’t always easy. Having an open-ended challenge for your little ones to do may help give them the encouragement they need to get outside.

Water comes with certain risks, and it is important to teach your children how to act around water.

Exposing them to water in a controlled environment, like through an engineering activity, is a great way to get them familiar with water.

Nature has been shown to help improve people’s mood, memory, and physical activity.

What great things to want for our children.

If you are looking for more ideas to help get your kids outside, check out our posts all about nature activities.

From fairy houses to nature journaling, there are sure to be some activities your little ones will love.

Create a Dam

How is Building a Dam a STEM Engineering Activity?

The acronym STEM is a buzzword in the education world. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Some schools throw in an A for Arts to make the acronym STEAM.

Creating a dam is a STEM engineering activity because it requires using science concepts like knowledge of how a liquid moves (even through the smallest cracks) and Earth Science.

There are different types of dams and dam technologies. It’s up to the kids to decide how they want to engineer the dam.

Dimensions and measurements (math concepts) also need to be used to ensure that the dam is long enough to block out the water.

Engineering activities need to be open-ended.

There is no one right way to create a dam. This is a big part of the challenge.

Each kid can create a different dam that works!

Even if the dam doesn’t hold water indefinitely, the act of brainstorming and following through on a plan will help your kids’ brains to grow and make connections.

Create a Dam

Items Needed for STEM Dam Engineering Activity

-Items from nature (sticks, logs, mud, leaves, etc.)

-A puddle, a stream, or another water source

-Pail or way to move water (if needed)

Create a Dam

How to Do the Build a Dam STEM Engineering Activity

1. Pose the problem to your kids— Figure out a way to stop the water from flowing or section of part of the puddle using items from nature.

2. Show the kids the water source that will be used for the engineering activity.

3. Let them get to work collecting various materials.

4. Brainstorm ideas for how to stop the water from moving.

Create a Dam

5. Put the plan into action— Test out different ideas.

6. Test the kids’ design by pouring water on one side of the puddle. You can move water from the other side of the puddle to do this.

If you use a stream or other moving water source, the water is already moving for you.

7. Revise the design if needed.

8. Retest and revise as many times as needed until the dam stops water from flowing.

Create a Dam

STEAM Engineering Activity

Engineering doesn’t have to be elaborate or time intensive. This simple dam building STEAM engineering activity is open-ended on purpose to allow your kids the time and energy they want to put into it.

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