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Episode 1 - Gold Rush

Five ingenious scientists start their epic journey on the other side of the world to hunt for gold. Kate Humble joins the team of modern-day prospectors as they follow in the footsteps of the original gold pioneers on the rugged and unforgiving west coast of New Zealand's South Island.

To find gold, they have to solve a series of seemingly impossible challenges with only basic tools, simple materials and a few helpful household items, like a bag of sugar and some old radios. The scientists' brainpower, and muscle power, are tested to the limit as they battle with dense forests and fast-flowing rivers in one of the wettest places on Earth, with nearly 200 inches of rain a year. The team's ultimate challenge is to make a souvenir from pure New Zealand gold.

Explore the Science
Explore the science: properties of goldThe scientists begin by trying to collect gold from a river, building a home-made metal detector, and constructing a super-accurate balance capable of weighing micrograms of gold.

Explore the science: metal detectorWhat is a carat? Discover the properties of gold and how to search for it.

Why does a metal detector make a noise when it passes over metal? Investigate the physics and learn how to make one for yourself.

Explore the science: weighing balanceIs it possible to measure micrograms? Find out how a balance works and whether it's easier to weigh light or heavy objects.

How did the scientists cope with this week's challenges? Did Kathy struggle to measure micrograms? Was this the first time Ellen, Mike B. and Mike L. had tried panning? Was Jonathan pleased with his metal detector? Read each of the Rough Scientists' personal diaries to find out what life was really like in New Zealand.

Photo: Rough Scientists at work
Metal Detector Interactive