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The Gold Adventure at Lake Anna State Park

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BC: References Ham, Sam. "Rethinking Goals, Objectives, and Themes." InterpScan 29 (May/June 2003) Hiller, Dan. "A Closer Look." Edinburgh: Scottish Museums Council and Interpret Scotland, 2001. Spock, Michael. "Elegant Programs and Conversations." In Presence of Mind: Museums and the Spirit of Learning, edited by Bonnie Pitman. Washington, DC, American Association of Museums, 1999.

FC: Gold Adventure

1: Brochure advertisement of The Gold Adventure Program in which visitors tour Goodwin Gold Mine as well as participate in panning for gold at Pigeon Run Stream. | Lake Anna State Park is located near Spotsylvania, Virginia and is known for its lake, beach, and gold mining historic site. The park offers many educational programs including The Gold Adventure

2: Visitors sign up and pay for the program at the Park Office and then meet the Park Interpreter at the Visitor's Center where the program begins. The Park Interpreter first shows visitors an example of a gold nugget before giving them a brief introduction about gold and description of the program.

3: This is the Park Interpreter whom led the program | Audience of the program included myself (a twenty-four year old woman), a middle aged married couple, and a family: grandmother (age - fifties), mother and father (both aged late twenties/early thirties), and three year old daughter

4: Visitors are driven to the area entrance and then hike to the mining site. There are signs to guide visitors as they follow the Park Interpreter

5: An exhibit shed, which contains both artifacts and reproductions of some of the mining tools used including a gold pan, rocker box, long tom, and stamp mill. The Park Interpreter describes the history of mining specifically in Virgina and at the park site. | Visitors are encouraged to examine artifacts strategically placed along the hiking path around the mining ruins.

6: Mining Ruins

7: There are various areas of the mining site to examine and observation decks provide visitors with panoramic views of the ruins without getting too close to disturb the area.

8: At the stream, the Park Interpreter digs up sediment and places a handful into individual pans. He then describes the process of gold panning and demonstrates the technique to the group. | Each visitor receives a pan of sediment that they then dip into the stream covering it with water They then shake the the pan to break apart the dirt that clings to the rocks. The Park Interpreter suggests that any visible large rocks be taken out of the pan once inspected. Then visitors slowly drain the pan of all the water using the ribbed inside portion to hold back rocks as the pan is tilted and they look for gold. | After the process has been repeated multiple times and most of the dirt and larger rocks have been removed, visitors are told to throughly inspect the pan for any gold. The Park Interpreter aids in the inspection process and describes the types of rocks remaining in the pan

10: This evaluation is given to each visitor asking for their feedback about the park, facilities, campgrounds, and educational programs offered.

11: Visitors can rate their experience and include comments as well as contact information. They then mail in this form to provide Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation visitor feedback to determine areas of success as well as improvement needs.

12: The Gold Adventure at Lake Anna State Park is educational, interactive, and engaging. Michael Spock (1999) describes good educational programs as "experiences [which are] interactive. Rather than being passive receptacles, the visitor contributes to, constructs, helps creates the experience" (p. 147). In this program, visitors are actively recreating the process used by miners from over a century ago. The program has many of the components for successfully interpretive programming outlined by Dan Hillier and the Scottish Museum Council (2001), including stimulating the senses, inspection, emotion, interaction, social interaction, and creativity. Visitors are shown the mining site and artifacts and given detailed information about gold mining. They then are able to experience the method of mining gold near the original site to further comprehend the process of gold mining. The program also demonstrates to visitors through interaction the reasons why it was a difficult job that yielded little results for most whom still remained hopeful of a large reward for their efforts.

13: The main downside of the program is it's lack of strong emphasis of the historic site and gold miners of the past. The artifacts and interactive activity are not enough to link the site to the lives of the miners for the visitor to make deep connections with. Sam Ham (2003) describes interpretation as "purposeful mean-making aimed at impacting the visitor's point of view a place, feature, or an idea in a way that produces desired outcomes that consistent with the organization's goals" (p. 11). The program has a good interactive activity to show visitors the difficulties faced by miners but it does not explain the time period in which these miners were living nor their motivations. It needs more visuals and details about the miners and the surrounding area in order for visitors to understand and relate to them.

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  • By: Erica C.
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  • Title: The Gold Adventure at Lake Anna State Park
  • Educational Programming Museum Visit Photo Essay
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  • Published: almost 6 years ago