How to Build a Dam With Flour & Water for a Science Project

Written by jeffrey brian airman
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You can build a sturdy dam for a science project that is held together with flour and water. When flour and water are combined and allowed to dry, they form a bond similar to glue. The flour paste is strong and capable of holding back the weight of a small waterway in a science project display. Construct a dam model for your next science project to explore the positive and negative effects it has on the environment that surrounds it.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 3-foot by 3-foot flat wood board
  • Permanent marker
  • Newspapers
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • Shallow tub
  • Paintbrush
  • Acrylic paints
  • Waterproof sealer spray

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Draw out plans for geographic features including a waterway directly on the flat wood square using a permanent marker. Draw the parallel outlines of the river banks at least 6 inches apart.

  2. 2

    Tear 10 to 15 pages of black and white newsprint paper into approximately 6-inch long strips.

  3. 3

    Mix the flour and water together in a shallow dish.

  4. 4

    Dredge the newspaper strips through the flour paste mixture and use your thumb and index finger to squeeze the excess liquid back into the dish.

  5. 5

    Pile up the wet newspaper strips to form 3-inch high banks all along the waterway. Make mounds of soaked newspaper to form hills and mountains.

  6. 6

    Choose a location for the dam and stack the flour paste soaked strips to form a wall. The height of the dam should be as tall or taller than the banks of the waterway. Use smoothed-out flat strips of newsprint to give the dam a flat surface on all sides.

  7. 7

    Allow the flour paste to dry overnight or even for a couple days so it sets completely.

  8. 8

    Use a paintbrush to apply a thin layer of acrylic paints to the model. Paint the mountains brown and green, and give the floor of the waterway a solid coat of blue. Let the paint dry for at least an hour.

  9. 9

    Take the model outside and spray the entire surface with a coat of waterproof sealer spray. After an hour of drying, apply a second coat.

Tips and warnings

  • Run your tests with colored water so that it is easier to tell where the excess liquids go. Color plain water by adding a few drops of food coloring and stirring it in with a spoon.
  • Try damaging or weakening your dam with a drill and running test to make it fail. These are the sort of contingency tests that are run during the planning process of a real dam.

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