Gold panning in Vermont dates back to the 1850s with the discovery of gold flakes in Vermont rivers. This summer Bellcate brought back gold panning with interest from both students and staff. Over the summer and into Quarter 1 students continue to pan for gold weekly. Some students who were not in the Gold Panning class learned how to pan during the summer BBQ on Fridays. There is such joy and wonder that comes with each class. The students wonder if they will strike big that day or just find a few little flakes the size of sand. Either way the students can’t wait to get to the river to pan and find whatever gold they can big or small.
This quarter students are learning how to use a sluice which is essentially a water filter that sifts out gold and other small materials. On rainy days students have been learning about the history of gold panning and the gold rush and researching well known spots in Vermont. With panning for gold, you must filter out rocks and for some students the curiosity of crystals has come up. We have been collecting crystals and other rocks to take back and study or to crack open hoping to find crystals inside a geode.
Bellcate student, Alex, says “he really enjoys his gold panning class and is always looking forward to the next class.” This quarter Alex has gotten the opportunity to try using a sluice and he said it is fun to use. Although we haven’t found any gold with the sluice he is hoping to “strike rich” soon. Jackson has mentioned how much fun and challenging class can be. We have also researched a lot about Gold Panning techniques used today and how we can improve our technique to better our chances of finding gold. Another student, Dylan, says “he is enjoying the challenge of panning and also enjoys being able to be outside and trying something new.” He also has a little knowledge of Gold Panning and technique from watching the Discovery Channel series Gold Rush. This quarter due to low levels on the river we have had to dig a little deeper to find gold flakes. With hope for some rain and the use of the sluice the students are hoping to find more gold soon, hopefully bigger chunks.