History Channel's How the Earth Was Made is a wonderful documentary series about geology and earth science. In the episode titled "America's Gold," the series presents the origin and history of gold. The episode is set up as a type of detective story, with evidence shown to back up hypotheses. The episode is available on YouTube
The video links the origin of gold to exploding stars that perished before the earth was formed. The locations of gold-rich areas around the earth are attributed to the motions of earth's plates, and also to geothermal activity such as hot springs. Along with the history of the search for gold around the world, the story of gold mining in the United States is emphasized with details concerning the Forty-Niners and the California Gold Rush. Gold exploration is also explored into the modern era, with a depiction of the vast gold mining enterprise of the Carlin Trend in Nevada where tons of ore are processed to extract minute quantities of gold. The work of modern gold prospectors is also emphasized.
The video worksheet handout is double-sided, and contains twenty seven questions, mainly multiple choice and true or false. A key is included.
In summary, this episode represents a nice overview of this history of a captivating element in nature. It is appropriate for earth or physical science classes. I use the video for my earth science classes when we discuss minerals.