There is no Frigate like a Book - Emily Dickinson

Critical Thinking and Writing Activity - The Belo Monte Dam Project

The construction of the Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River in Brazil has raised some controversy around the world.  In this activity you will examine several press articles and videos, then write a composition of your own using the sources provided below.


  1. Read and understand the articles
  2. Watch and understand the videos
  3. Write a one-page composition based on ONE of the following topics.
    1. An impartial newspaper article for your local newspaper
    2. An argumentative essay choosing one side of the controversy
    3. An analysis of the credibility and motivations of the articles and videos below.


Questions to think about when reading articles

  • Credibility: Is the article or publisher reputable?
  • Bias: Does the author or publisher exhibit a vested interest in their subject matter.
  • Balance: How well balanced is the article in the presentation of the arguments?.
  • Sources: Are the sources of information cited?



Defending the Rivers of the Amazon with Sigourney Weaver

A publicity video from 2010 narrated by Sigourney Weaver

AHE Belo Monte

Other Activities


Open Discussion Questions

In a small group or with a partner discuss the following topics.

  1. Have the indigenous people been properly represented in the government's decision to build the dam?
  2. What are the overall benefits of building the dam?
  3. What are the overall detriments to the environment?
  4. What impact does the opinion of rest of the world have on the decision of the Brazilian government?
  5. How do you think Sigourney Weaver's celebrity endorsement affects people's opinions of the construction of the dam?
  6. How well informed is the Brazilian government's decision in terms of the environment?
  7. Discuss the importance of the impact on the environment in relation to the needs of the people.
  8. What is your overall opinion of the construction of the Belo Monte dam complex?  What informed your opinion?

Click here to download a copy of the questions in PDF.

Mini Debate

With a partner or in a group divided into 2, conduct a debate adopting the two positions outlined below.  Once you have chosen your positions take some time to prepare your debate based on the materials presented above.

Position A.  You think that the construction of the Belo Monte dam should be halted and the environment returned to the way it was before construction began. You believe the negative consequences on the area's ecology will be irreparable and that the wishes of the indigenous people should be respected.

Position B. You believe the construction is too far advanced to stop now and should continue to completion. You also believe that sufficient research has been conducted and the effects on the ecology are minimal and do not outweigh the future needs of the 202 million citizens of Brazil.

Click here to download a copy of the debate in PDF

Printable Activities

Open Discussion Questions

  Mini Debate


Coordinates for the Belo Monte Dam Complex in Brazil.