The New Republic students were very excited for gold panning! During their People of the Sierra class, they learned about pre-Gold Rush Miwok culture as well as the effect that the Gold Rush had on both the environment and the native peoples of California. We studied the Miwok through examining artifacts, learning about native plants and animals, and visiting replicas of traditional Miwok structures in Sierra Outdoor School's Miwok Village. There, the students learned about and explored a chukka (acorn storage), umacha (traditional Miwok home), and shapuya (sweat lodge for hunters). Moving forward through time, the students then dove more in-depth into the many facets of the California Gold Rush. At our new gold panning troughs, New Republic students got a feel for what life was like as a miner. They had the opportunity to pan for gold after being given a thorough explanation of how to do so, as well as how to tell the difference between gold and pyrite (Fool's Gold). Here's a video of Group A (Mrs. Spencer's class) panning for gold. Though almost half of the class found gold flakes, the students learned the meaning of the old saying, during the Gold Rush, "gold was where you found it."


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