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Science - Earth Science
Standard 4 Objective 2
1 class periods of 60 minutes each
In this exercise, students will hold a debate about the construction of a dam in terms of the biological, aesthetic, ethical, social or economic arguments with regard to maintaining biodiversity. Students will be assigned different roles to argue either for or against the dam.
To evaluate the biological, aesthetic, ethical, social or economic arguments with regard to maintaining biodiversity.
When people build a dam on a river, it changes the ecosystem in many ways. Dams may impact both positively and negatively the biodiversity of terrestrial plant communities, fish and other aquatic life, mammals and birds. See the Further Discussion questions following the activity for more information about these impacts.
Note that there are many other arguments for and against a new reservoir that do not relate specifically to biodiversity. These include economic opportunity (irrigation or drinking water) versus economic losses (flooded communities or cost of construction), recreational opportunities (boating and fishing), and opportunities for developers (water front housing), aesthetic considerations and more.
Other Stream Side Science activities such as That's Predictable and Missing Macroinvertebrates may be helpful for the students to review how ecosystems change due to various factors.
More information about dams can be found on the internet sites listed on the Teacher Resource pages.
Applying the Information:
Lesson plan authors: Andree Walker and Nancy Mesner (Utah State University Water Quality Extension)
This curriculum was made possible through funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Utah State University Extension.
Additional resources can be found on the USU Stream Side Science 9th Grade Curriculum web page.