How to build a model dam

Updated April 17, 2017

A dam is a structure that stops water from flowing through a stream. Usually, a dam is built to redirect the water or to use the water power to generate energy. Building a model dam is a great idea for a science project, especially if you research the purposes of various dams and display the information along with your model. With a few simple materials, you can make a dam that works like the real thing.

Fill the pan about two-thirds full with modelling compound.

Dig a trench down the middle of the modelling compound to act as a riverbed.

Press the modelling compound against the edges of the pan so that it is flush with the rim.

Glue several craft sticks together, long edges facing each other. Make the stack the right size to fit across the trench. Do this twice to create two stacks of sticks.

Set the two stacks of craft sticks parallel to each other, each crossing the riverbed, with a small space between them.

Fill the area between the stacks of sticks with small pebbles, and pour sand over the pebbles to seal the inside of the dam.

Pour water into the "river" to test your dam. The water should stop when it reaches the dam, or possibly trickle very slowly out of the other side of the dam.


You may want to cut the craft sticks to different sizes in order to more effectively seal the dam. If you are using the model dam for a science project, you may want to paint the modelling compound and decorate it with bushes to resemble landscape.


Do not pour too much water into the dam all at once (unless you want to demonstrate how a dam can cause flooding).

Things You'll Need

  • Bread pan
  • Modelling compound
  • Glue
  • Craft sticks
  • Pebbles
  • Sand
  • Water
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About the Author

Keren (Carrie) Perles is a freelance writer with professional experience in publishing since 2004. Perles has written, edited and developed curriculum for educational publishers. She writes online articles about various topics, mostly about education or parenting, and has been a mother, teacher and tutor for various ages. Perles holds a Bachelor of Arts in English communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.