The Netherlands North Sea Protection Works

Contributor: Roxann Penny. Lesson ID: 12715

Having a flooded basement or lawn can be annoying, but what about a flooded country? That's what the Netherlands faced for years. So, they built this huge dam to hold back the sea! See what they did!


World, World

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

Lesson Plan - Get It!


What would you do if one day an ocean decided to invade your home?

  • Have you ever tried to build a dam?

If you have, then you know that it can be a bit tricky at times. Now, consider building a dam across a sea, like the North Sea near the Netherlands. This would be quite an engineering challenge, don't you agree? Well, a group of people came together and decided to do just that — build a dam across the North Sea.

You see, one-third of the Netherlands is below sea level. No, this does not mean that the land is submerged beneath the sea. Instead, it refers to the height of the ocean flow when it is compared to parts of a mainland. As a result of this difference in levels, flooding from high tides is a common occurrence and a major problem for people who live in the Netherlands. In the past, smaller dams and dykes were built as a barrier to the encroaching sea water; however, they were not quite successful.

In 1953, a larg storm flooded the Netherlands, killing 2,000 people. It was decided then that the Netherlands needed better protection from the damaging effects of high tides. Therefore, a dam — a very large dam — was constructed across the North Sea to prevent sea water from flooding the many coastal communities in the Netherlands. This dam became part of a large construction project known as the Delta Works, or the Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, and now includes a series of dams, locks, dykes, and other barriers. The project took over 30 years to complete.

Study the map below to see the areas where the project was completed:

By OpenStreetMap.orgClassical geographer [CC BY-SA 1.0 (, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons

Next, look at the images below. They show parts of the dams constructed to protect the Netherlands from the North Sea. With your parent or teacher, describe what you observe in the pictures. Talk about how you think the structures in the images help prevent flooding:


Next, view the following video to take an aerial tour of the dam. As you view View on the Delta Works in the Netherlands.flv, observe the dam's layout, shape, and surrounding location. Finally, discuss whether you believe the North Sea Project belongs among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Provide reasons for your position:


The Netherlands North Sea Project is a remarkable engineering undertaking. More importantly, its construction may save lives and valuable resources.

Continue to the Got It? section to summarize what you have learned.

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