Having fun with horizontal caving in the trailer (left) and vertical caving on our tower (right). Our vertical caving program teaches mechanical systems concepts, including simple machines and mechanical advantage. Photos by Avery Parsons staff.

We did an amazing program for about 65 5th grade students on their last day of school before spring break.  What made it amazing?  Well, for starters there was Andrew.  He has spina bifida and is normally in a wheelchair.  Dave showed Andrew some accommodations that CaveSim offers for people who don’t have the use of their legs, but Andrew has so much tenacity that he explored the entire cave system with another student and without using any of the accommodations that Dave offered.  Andrew’s teachers were amazed, and gave his mom a glowing report about his accomplishments.

Students hard at work on our Karst Topography lab. Photo by Avery Parsons staff.

The program was also amazing because it gave us the opportunity to show how flexible our programs can be.  We had some severe weather, including high winds, rain, and even sleet.  Despite the challenges, we continued with the program, and students got to do one of our cool karst topography labs while we waited for the conditions to improve.  To keep the students safe, we also lowered the vertical caving tower during the high winds, and we taught cool knots instead.  The students got to learn the Lark’s Head and Alpine Butterfly knots.

Students learn about helictites, a type of cave formation, while waiting to explore CaveSim. Photo by Avery Parsons staff.

We had great help from volunteer Carole Perrin, who’s daughter Barb Bentzin and son-in-law Bob Montgomery are fantastic supporters of our programs.

Students role-play bats to learn about echolocation. Photo by Avery Parsons staff.

“I’ve heard so many people comment today on your professionalism!” Becki Cummins, 5th grade teacher.

“I’m really impressed by the filler content that you have [for keeping the kids learning when the plan has to change]”.  Bonnie Grover, 5th grade teacher

Teacher Becki Cummins gets ready to by carried by her students in the cave rescue stretcher, an activity which teaches teamwork and communication. Photo by Avery Parsons staff.