How to Build a Model of the Panama Canal

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Middle school teachers have always been fond of models. A common geography assignment is to build a model of a country or landmark. When studying Central America, a topic of discussion is the Panama Canal. If you have ever been assigned to make a model, you know the groan the assignment brings, but if you are assigned to do something on the Panama Canal, worry not.

  • Blue display board
  • Green Play-Doh
  • Black Sharpie marker
  • Map of Panama
  • Map of Panama Canal

1 Sketch Panama

Sketch Panama. The Panama Canal runs through Panama and connects the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The first thing you need to do is find a map of Panama and sketch the map onto the center of the blue display board. The display board is the ocean.

2 Mold the Play-Doh

Mold the Play-Doh. Take the green Play-Doh and flatten the Play-Doh on the section of sketched board. This is the land of Panama and Central America. Spread the Play-Doh out very thinly for the landmass of Central America. The landmass is quite large, so you can spread the Play-Doh to be a film over the board. The mountains are a different story. Take two ping-pong-ball-size balls of Play-Doh, and flatten the ball into a line that you can use to form the mountains bordering the canal. Use your fingers to make the ridges of the mountains.

3 Let the Play-Doh dry

Let the Play-Doh dry. It should take a at least 24 hours for the Play-Doh to dry completely.

4 Draw the canal

Draw the canal. Take the map of the Panama Canal and your Sharpie and draw a line from one patch of blue to the other across the Play-Doh in the route of the canal.

5 Label the counties and oceans

Label the counties and oceans. Write the Atlantic Ocean on the right-hand side. Write the Pacific Ocean on the left-hand side. Then, write in the names of the countries.

Laura N. Stuart is a writer. She has served as a newspaper reporter, photographer, copy editor, feature reporter, editor, entertainment reporter and freelance writer for multiple community and regional publications. She holds a Bachelor of Mass Communications degree in journalism from Louisiana State University.