Pyrite, also know as Fool's Gold, is a fun mineral to discover and investigate. In this easy and inexpensive tutorial we will create a Fool's Gold Fun Dig for the excavating adventurer in your life to dig into and enjoy. What make fool's gold so fun is its resemblance to real gold. Have fun watching those little faces light up as they wash off the pyrite they discover and see that beautiful gold like hue sparkle and shine. 
Pro tip: Pyrite is inexpensive and easy to find online. If you are unable to find fool's gold, you can easily use pennies as a substitute and pretend they are gold coins.   
  • Sand
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups
  • Excavation tools. Wooden dowels and other blunt instruments work well. Sharp tools are unsafe and not necessary as the excavations are reasonably brittle and excavate easily. 
  • Safety goggles
  • Small brush
  • Pyrite 
  • Container - Any plastic container will do. 
  • Optional - Biodegradable gold glitter

Pro tip: Find an old piece of porcelain tile and have your excavating adventurer perform a streak test with the pyrite they discover in the Fool's Gold Fun Dig. Although pyrite has a brassy yellow color, it will produce a black streak. 


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  1. Put one cup of sand in your mixing bowl.
  2. Add one-third cup Plaster of Paris.
  3. Use the wooden spoon to mix the sand and Plaster of Paris.
  4. Add one-third cup of water and mix.
  5. Keep adding small amounts of water until you reach a pancake like batter consistency. 
  6. Add the pyrite to the container.
  7. Pour a layer of the mixture into the container to cover the pyrite.
  8. Gently tap the sides of the container to remove any air bubbles. This will also allow a little mixture under the pyrite.
  9. Optional - Sprinkle the gold glitter across the wet surface of the excavation.
  10. Set the Fool's Gold Fun Dig in a safe location to dry undisturbed overnight. I like to put the excavation in front of a fan.


Now the Fool's Gold Fun Dig is ready to be enjoyed. Find an area that is easy to clean up, distribute the safety goggles and excavation tools, and let the excavating begin. 

I hope you enjoyed this super quick tutorial and enjoy making the Fool's Gold Fun Dig. These excavations are very easy to make, inexpensive, and a lot of fun!
Pro tip: Use this activity to create some excitement around discussions or lessons regarding the Gold Rush, geology, and minerals. 
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Happy Excavating!





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