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The Gam Saan Adventure- Are You Willing to Risk it?

developed by Kristen K. Lee for the Oakland Museum of California


Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion |Teacher's Page | Bibliography


The discovery of gold in California in 1848 brought many people to California in search of riches. Thousands of Chinese immigrants, lured by the promise of gold and prompted by problems at home, joined others from around the world in the rush for wealth.

You and your teammates have the opportunity to travel back in time to become some of the first Chinese immigrants to arrive in California. You will explore the reasons why Chinese prospectors came to "Gam Saan" (Gold Mountain) and their experiences in California once they arrived. You will then have three days to decide whether you want to travel back in time to be a Chinese prospector in California of the 1850's.

Click here for background information


This webquest addresses the following standards:

Grade 4 California History-Social Science Content Standards:

4.4 Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cultural development since the 1850s.

1. Understand the story and lasting influence of the Pony Express, Overland Mail Service, Western Union, and the building of the transcontinental railroad, including the contributions of Chinese workers to its construction.
2. Explain how the Gold Rush transformed the economy of California, including the types of products produced and consumed, changes in towns (e.g., Sacramento, San Francisco), and economic conflicts between diverse groups of people.
3. Discuss immigration and migration to California between 1850 and 1900, including the diverse composition of those who came; the countries of origin and their relative locations; and conflicts and accords among the diverse groups (e.g., the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act).

Grade 4 California Reading/ Language Arts Content Standards:

1.2 Create multiple-paragraph compositions:

a. Provide an introductory paragraph.
b. Establish and support a central idea with a topic sentence at or near the beginning of the first paragraph.
c. Include supporting paragraphs with simple facts, details, and explanations.
d. Conclude with a paragraph that summarizes the points.
e. Use correct indention.

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills:

Chronological and Spatial Thinking:

1. Students place key events and people of the historical era they are studying in a chronlogical sequence and within a spatial context; they interpret timelines.
3. Students explain how the present is connected to the past, identifying both similariteis and differences between the two, and how some things change over time and some things stay the same.

Research, Evidence, and Point of View:

2. Students pose relevant questions about events they encounter in historical documents, eyewitness accounts, oral histories, letters, diaries, artifacts, photographs, maps, artworks, and architecture.

Time Frame (teachers, click here):

Day One: Introduction to WebQuest, team and role assignments

Day Two: Research on the Internet

Day Three: Finish research and share information with teammates

Day Four: Write composition


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The Task:

Your team consists of four or five members: the Who Member, the What Member, the How Member, and the Why Member. If you have a fifth member, s/he will be the Where Member. If there are only four of you, you will work together to answer theWhere Member's questions. Each team member will print out his/ her appropriate sheet of information and questions. Team members will then visit the websites listed on their information/question sheets.

After each team member has answered his/her questions, your team will gather together to share all the data collected.

Your team will then write a multiple paragraph composition stating and defending your position on whether you should travel back in time to be Chinese prospectors in California in the 1850's.

Note: Your teacher will be evaluating your team's composition using this rubric. S/he will also be evaluating how well you work as a group using this rubric. Finally, you will be evaluating each of your team members (including yourself) on teamwork using this rubric.

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The Process:

To accomplish the above task, you will need to follow these instructions:

Meet with your team of four or five and choose your roles: Who Member, What Member, How Member, Why Member and Where Member. Remember that if you only have four members, you will work together to answer the Where Member's questions in addition to taking on your individual roles.

Take a peek at each of your pages listed in the table below. Each page contains the questions you will be answering as well as links to Internet resources to help you answer your questions.

Who Member What Member
Why Member How Member

Where Member




Share your information with your teammates when all of you have answered your individual questions, and record your findings on this student sheet.

Would YOU like to be Chinese prospectors in California in the 1850's? Your team will write a multi-paragraph composition stating your position on this issue. If you need help on writing your composition, click here.


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Your group will be evaluated by your teacher. You will also be evaluated by your peers.

The following rubrics will be used:

Teacher Rubric for Composition Peer Rubric Teacher Rubric for Group Work


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Whether or not you decided to go back in time to be a Chinese gold prospector in California of the 1850's, you have learned how to use the Internet as a research tool. You have also learned about the California Gold Rush from a different perspective, that of the Chinese immigrant.

Were you surprised at the discriminatory laws that the Chinese gold miners faced? Did the United States enact other discriminatory laws that focused on a group of people simply because of their race? What kinds of laws does the United States have now regarding immigration?

Maybe some day, California will truly be the Gam Saan or Golden Mountain for everyone who arrives in search of a dream. Maybe you can help make it happen.


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