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Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) WarmUp Activity: Water Issues and the Aswan High Dam

Laura Guertin, Penn State University Delaware County
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1) What are some of the GOOD changes for the environment and positive impacts on the local people from construction of the Aswan High Dam?

2) What are some of the BAD changes for the environment and negative impacts on the local people from construction of the Aswan High Dam?

3) There were many "costs" involved with constructing this dam. Identify some of these costs. Have the short-term and long-term impacts of the dam construction been worth it? Explain.

Student Responses:

See the Just-in-Time Teaching page on assessment for information and ideas on how to evaluate student responses.

Overall, students are frustrated that they have difficulty "picking a side" because of the good and bad aspects of the Aswan High Dam being in place. The suggested readings do not seem to give students difficulty, but many will comment on and ask about photos they find online of the dam and surrounding environment ("I never realized it could be so green in Egypt!"). Students will typically inquire for additional information about the decrease in sardine populations. One impact of the Aswan High Dam not clearly explained in the suggested articles is the erosion of the Nile Delta shoreline. This topic is useful to incorporate in the discussion and clarify any misconceptions about how materials held behind the dam impacts the environment downstream.

References and Notes:

Articles that students may be assigned to read for this set of questions include (but are not limited to):

The southeastern Mediterranean ecosystem revisited: Thirty years after the construction of the Aswan High Dam, Texas A&M University (more info) , Spring 1995.

Role of the Aswan High Dam in Promoting the Nile River System Management, WCD Regional Consultation, Cairo, Egypt (more info) ,December 1999.

The use of Just-in-Time Teaching is discussed in detail on the JiTT Starting Point page.

Additional information on JiTT is available in the book:


Geoscience:Hydrology:Surface Water:Water Management and Policy

Resource Type

Activities:Classroom Activity:Just in Time Teaching

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Hydrology:Surface Water, Hydrology


Hydrosphere/Cryosphere:Surface Water:Water Management and Policy, Human Dimensions/Resources


Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Hydrology/Hydrogeology, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Water