Thar’s Gold in Them Hills!: Gold Panning

Lesson Plan Content
When people think of gold prospectors, they often conjure up an image of a ‘49er with his burro, gold pan, and pick and shovel. The truth is that there were many gold rushes in North America during its settlement by Europeans, and gold is even being mined today. In Arizona, gold has been found in all the counties except Apache, Navajo and Coconino. If you have ever wanted to try and find some gold, you might find that it is not as difficult as you might think--all you need is a little knowledge about the science behind prospecting. In this lesson, students will learn about the physical properties of gold and how placer gold can be separated from a mixture of soil. They will also learn how the placer gold becomes concentrated in the soil which will educate students on how to find the best locations to dig for gold.
Rick Byers
Grade Range: 
High School
3 class periods
Lesson Materials
Teacher Instructions: 
Arizona Geography Concepts: 
5: Environment and Society
National Geography Standards: 
14: How human actions modify the physical environment
16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources