Itaipu Dam

Contributor: Roxann Penny. Lesson ID: 12714

Did you know we get electricity from water? Giant hydroelectric dams turn water power into electrical power. The largest of these dams is in South America, and came at great cost. See what you think!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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If you had 18 years, 18 billion dollars and 18 generators, what would you create?

  • What is the Itaipu Dam?

Itaipu Dam

The Itaipu Dam is the world's largest hydroelectric power plant, situated on the Paraná River, on the border of Paraguay and Brazil.

  • Can you locate the countries Brazil and Paraguay on the map below?

map of South America

Hydroelectric power uses water to generate electricity. The dam is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World because of its size and its engineering ingenuity. In fact, it is considered the largest hydroelectric complex in the world. How big is it? The Itaipu Dam measures 7,744 feet in length, 738 feet high, and took 16 years to build at a cost of 18 billion dollars. Both Brazil and Paraguay collaborated in constructing the dam.

Take a look at the following images of the Itaipu Dam. Talk with your parent or teacher about your observations.

These enormous pipes supply water into giant turbines that help make electricity:

water supply pipes

In this picture, you can see the water spill that is used to control the release flow of water from the dam:

water spill

This picture shows one of the generators used at the dam to generate, or make, electricity:


Image by Marco Verch, via flickr, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Internatioal license.

  • Why did Brazil and Paraguay decide to build the dam together?

Essentially, both countries agreed they would benefit from the dam because it would utilize one of their shared resources, the Paraná River; plus, it would generate enough electricity to satisfy the needs of the populations of both countries.

Here is an interesting fact: the total amount of iron and steel used in the dam would be sufficient to build 380 Eiffel Towers. Interested in learning more interesting facts about the Itaipu Dam? Then, why not take a "field trip" to explore the dam yourself. Watch the video below for a close-up look at the features of the dam. Keep note of any interesting features you see on your tour in your writing journal.

Ready? Then take a look at the Itaipu Binacional video, Itaipu Dam:

Image - Video


  • What did you learn while viewing the video?

Share your thoughts and observations with your parent or teacher.

Continue to the Got It? section to test your knowledge about what you have just explored about the Itaipu Dam.

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