Rock and Mineral Activities for Kids

Gold Panning Activity

You probably won't strike it rich with this gold panning activity, but it's fun to try!

What You'll Need:

  • Gold pan or old pie tin
  • Tweezers
  • Small bottle
  • Magnet
  • Life vest

Most areas of the country have at least a few streams that have yielded gold. Ask at the local Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management office to find out where to go near you.

Never go near the water without an adult nearby. Also, don't go in water that is deeper than your knees. Find a spot in the stream where the bottom is sandy and without too many rocks.

Scoop up a handful of sand with plenty of water in your pan and swirl it around. Let the lighter sand spill out over the edge of the pan. Heavier materials, including iron and gold, will remain behind. The heavy sand is darker in color, too.

When the darker sand is all you have left in the pan, pour out the water and look closely. If you're lucky you'll see small specks of gold gleaming in it. Use tweezers to pick the gold from the sand and put it in your bottle.

Later, let the gold and sand dry. Use a magnet to lift away the iron-rich dark sand, leaving the gold.

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