GIS Treasure Hunt

 Treasure Hunt in the Treasure State Cover3

  • Free
  • Targets 4th-6th graders
  • STEM Education Using GIS
  • Aligned with Next Generation Science Standards
  • GIS Tutorial
  • Teacher Guide
  • Make a treasure map, pan for gold, test water quality

Bear Trust International and Rocky Mountain Research Station developed this new, innovative GIS program that combines mapping, spatial analyses, field work, and research.  During Spring 2016, we are piloting this program with 17 students at the Frenchtown Elementary School, Montana.  In April 2016, students will present their findings at the “GIS Expedition to Discovery” conference held by MAGIP in Great Falls, MT.

Program Partners:  Frenchtown Elementary School, Bear Trust International, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Montana Association of Geographic Professionals, GIS 4 MT, Columbia Sportswear

Lesson Overview:  Students learn how to use GIS to map locations of gold mines in the 9 Mile Watershed, and they create a predictive map of undiscovered gold using resource layers such as streams, vegetation types, and elevation.  They also learn about  the different methods that were historically used to extract gold, discuss whether or not those methods used 150 years ago still have an effect on water quality today, and design a spatially explicit science experiment to test this question.  The study design includes sampling water quality upstream and downstream of 3 gold mine sites in the 9 Mile Watershed.  While on a field trip, students use compass, pacing, and GPS units to locate their sampling sites, and collect water samples.  In addition, they pan for gold using the “Map of Undiscovered Gold” that they created.  Back in the classroom, students test the water samples, evaluate the results, determine whether or not heavy metals are still present in the 9 Mile Watershed.  Through facilitated experiments and discussion, students “discover” that the greatest treasures in the Treasure State include not only shiny minerals  like gold but also resources like clean water.  As a capstone activity, students share their findings with peers by creating a power point presentation, which will be presented at the MAGIP conference in Great Falls in April 2016.


Teacher Guide

GIS Tutorial

Project Initiatives

Bear Trust focuses on 4 primary project initiatives: 1) Conservation Education 2) Bear Research & Management 3) Habitat Conservation 4) Conservation Policy

Contact Info

PO Box 10850
Bozeman, MT 59719
Phone: (406) 523-7779