Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

Badge 12 Gold Panning and Prospecting

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12. Gold Panning & Prospecting

Gold has been highly valued throughout human history as a precious metal. This unit will teach you why. You can learn about gold as a mineral, its uses and history, and even how to find a gold flake or nugget of your own.

Activity 12.1: Gold as a Mineral

Buy a book on minerals or pick one up at the library to learn about the properties of gold as a mineral: its color, streak, cleavage, fracture, luster, hardness, crystal shape, and weight or specific gravity. Compare all these to properties of pyrite, or 'fool‘s gold'.

Activity 12.2: Uses of Gold

Write a report about why gold is considered valuable and the many ways it‘s used. Publish your report in your club newsletter or present what you‘ve learned at a club meeting.

Activity 12.3: Gold Throughout History

Gold has been valued, sought, and fought over throughout history. Learn about a historical event involving gold and either write a report about it for your club newsletter or prepare a presentation about it for your fellow club members.

Activity 12.4: Gold Resources in Your Own State or Region

Where has gold been found near you? From your library, from adult members of your club or society, or from your state geological survey, learn and then report to your fellow club members about areas closest to you where gold has been found. Show locations on a map. Gold is rare, so the closest spot may be in a neighboring state or region.

Activity 12.5: Field Trip to a Gold Mine

If there are any active gold mines within a convenient drive of your hometown, work with your youth leader to see if they would allow a group visit. Then go and see for yourself how gold is mined.

Activity 12.6: Panning for Gold

If there are streams in your area that are known to hold gold, arrange a field trip and pan for some gold of your own. If the nearest gold streams are too far away, you can still pan for gold in your own backyard. Some companies sell bags of 'gold concentrate', or gravel from gold-bearing streams, that you can buy and pan through in a tub of water. See if you can add a gold flake—or even a nugget!—to your rock collection.