Lesson Plan

"The Greatest Dam in the World": Building Hoover Dam (Teaching with Historic Places)

Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes

Essential Question

Learn about the Hoover Dam, located where the Colorado River forms the boundary between the states of Nevada and Arizona,


To see the full lesson plan, visit: https://www.nps.gov/articles/-the-greatest-dam-in-the-world-building-hoover-dam-teaching-with-historic-places.htm


Objectives for students

1) To list five factors that led to the construction of Hoover Dam.
2) To identify some of the work involved in the design and construction of the dam.
3) To explain the steps in the construction process and their dangers.
4) To identify some of the factors contributing to public perceptions of Hoover Dam and its construction.
5) To describe the impact Hoover Dam had on the Southwest and the nation and to explore some of its long-term implications.
6) To identify public works in their own local community.



Materials for students

The materials listed below can be used directly on the computer or printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a small version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) One map showing the Colorado River Basin;
2) One reading about the construction of Hoover Dam;
3) Two documents, a "Short Course in Engineering" and selections from President Roosevelt's speech at the dedication of Hoover Dam in 1935;
4) One illustration showing three views of Hoover Dam; and
5) Seven historic photos.

Contact Information

Email us about this lesson plan

Last updated: March 4, 2020