News

2015 NSS Convention, Waynesville, MO

Kids and adults hanging out and having fun at CaveSim during NSSCON2015. Photo by Rangerdj Hall.

Members of the Boston Mountain Grotto (BMG) pose with Dave outside of CaveSim holding the BMG sponsor sign.

The 2015 NSS Convention in Waynesville, MO was a big success.  Cavers took over 200 trips through CaveSim despite the high heat and humidity (we did run an air conditioner in the trailer, but it had a hard time keeping up!)  We also worked with about 31 elementary school children from the local school district.  They explored CaveSim, played cave- and bat-related games and did our hands-on activities.  We also gave each student a copy of the NSS News to take home so that their families could learn more about caves and conservation.

We are very excited to announce that Doug Warner of QueVer donated two incredible El Speleo lights.  We will be mounting these on helmets for use during CaveSim events.  This will be incredibly helpful in giving participants more light while they explore (to compensate for particpants’ eyes not adjusting to the dark quickly enough), and it will save us a lot of time and cost because we won’t have to use disposable batteries for two of our helmets.  Thank you, Doug and El Speleo!

 

A huge thank you to those who sponsored the trip:

Mr. Dick Blenz. Here’s his story from serving in WWII
Mr. Keith Wheeland 
Mr. Paul Schwotzer
               
         Meramec Valley Grotto      

ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp

48 students in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) summer camp explored CaveSim and did a bunch of other great activities.  In addition to exploring the trailer, the students built waterproof flashlights from scratch with help from Beth Austin, one of Tracy’s coworkers.  The students also learned about electronics equipment, took tours of Dave’s cave-building lab, and learned about geology from veteran teacher Sally McCracken.  Photos below are by STEM camp staff.

  

Students work on building waterproof flashlights. The students built simple circuits with LEDs and switches, and then enclosed them in hand-made waterproof cases.

Dave’s coworker Glenn Wood gives a demonstration of a Keysight oscilloscope with wired cave rescue phones.  Glenn is also one of our Kickstarter backers (he donated to buy the CaveSim trailer).  His sons Jay and Ethan also helped with the event.

Students read about the cave-exploration challenge that they’ve chosen.

    

Left: Students get ready to explore the CaveSim trailer.  Right: A student emerges from the CaveSim squeezebox.

REACH program, Colorado Springs School

For the fourth year in a row, we had a great program with the Colorado Springs School REACH students.  About two dozen students explored CaveSim, learned about geology, bats and electronics, and practiced cave rescue.  The kids got a kick out of passing the sked (cave rescue stretcher) through our new squeezebox with a fellow student in the sked!

Blossom Festival, Canon City

This fun event was sponsored by the Canon City High School Caving Club.  We had great help from students in the club (and from their teacher-sponsor, Ken Cline)

Kartchner Caverns Earth Day

CaveSim travelled to Arizona to Kartchner Caverns for the second year in a row, this year for a 2-day program for Earth Day weekend.  About 278 people explored CaveSim, and many more enjoyed our demos with carbide lamps and rescue litter.  We also debuted a new demo with our cave rescue phones and some oscilloscopes, newly donated to us. This was our son’s first road trip, and he did great!  A big thank-you to Kartchner Caverns for inviting us down again.

Quick story: Take a careful look at the front of the truck, and you’ll see that something is missing. No front plate! It was so windy on the drive down that our truck’s rear license plate ripped off, leaving the screws behind. In Arizona, only a rear plate is required, so we put the front plate on the back of the truck, and then got new plates when we got home to Colorado. We now have more bolts holding both plates on.

   

Left: Dave driving CaveSim past the Kartchner Caverns main gate. Right: Our young caver driving the truck, with a tape measure handy for building more cave. Photos by Tracy Jackson

CaveSim program at Mountain Song Community School

About 23 6th grade students from the Mountain Song Community School in Old Colorado City experienced CaveSim on Friday.  They did many of our activities, including:

  • Explored the cave in the trailer while trying not to hit the electronically-sensed cave formations
  • Practiced cave rescue by carrying one another around in our sked (rescue stretcher)
  • Learned about basic circuits with our field phones (used in cave rescue)
  • Roleplayed the lives of bats with our bat migration game, and learned about White Nose Syndrome
  • Crawled through our squeezebox to see how tight a space they could fit through
  • Learned about carbide lamps and cave history with our working lamp
  • Made sinkholes in cups to learn about geology

The students asked great questions, and engaged with all of our activities.  A big thanks to their teacher, Mr. McDonald, and to both parent volunteers who helped to organize and run the program.

Mountain Song 6th grade class and their teacher at the front of CaveSim. Photo by Dave Jackson. Photo waivers on file.

Cub Scout pack 26

Over 30 scouts from pack 26 in Colorado Springs explored CaveSim during their pack meeting.  They also practiced cave rescue using our sked and field phones, and they really enjoyed our squeezebox.  The carbide lamp demos worked great in the dark, as did the new LED floodlights that we’ve mounted on the trailer for evening events.

The Wildlife Experience

Thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, we had a great day at The Wildlife Experience (TWE) in Parker, CO. First, we taught 25 educators a variety of hands-on lessons for teaching their students about bats and cave conservation.  The educators had a great time – several went through CaveSim more than once, and one educator even volunteered to be carried around in our cave rescue litter.  One educator and a TWE staff member even took the challenge of making their own map of CaveSim.  After lunch, CaveSim was available to all museum visitors at no extra charge. There were also live bat demonstrations.  Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) provided the funding that made it possible for us to bring CaveSim to this event — CPW also does an outstanding job of working with local cavers as they do research about White Nose Syndrome.

Time-lapse video of at The Wildlife Experience.

CoolScience Carnival Day, UCCS

For the fifth year in a row, CaveSim educated hundreds of kids and adults at UCCS (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs) during the CoolScience festival.  We had great volunteers: a huge thanks to Dani, Todd, Floyd, Bekah, Slade, Kevin, and our other volunteers.  Floyd took some great pictures of the event:

 

Above left: Kids learning about cave formations from Dave while waiting to go through CaveSim. Above right: Visitors review their scores with the help of Dani (red shirt), one of our awesome volunteers.  Photos by Floyd Fernandez.

 

Above left: Visitors learned about cave formations, cave rescue gear, bats and more.  Above right: our new squeezebox lets participants safely try fitting through a tight squeeze.  Quick-release action prevents visitors from getting stuck.  Photos by Floyd Fernandez.

 

Above left: A cave model built several years ago by 4th and 5th graders in Catamount Institute‘s Young Environmental Stewards club is still in use today. It demonstrates the challenges posed by quarrying near caves.  Above right: A panoramic view of our event. Visitors waiting in line stay engaged with our many lessons and demos. Photos by Floyd Fernandez.

A time-lapse video of our event. We keep pretty busy!  Video by Dave Jackson

“A Taste of Lone Tree”, Lone Tree, CO

Hundreds of kids and adults learned about cave conservation by exploring the CaveSim mobile cave at this two-day event. Our sked, field phones and carbide lamps were a big hit with visitors too.

 

A girl and her dad explore CaveSim.                               A girl learns about carbide lamps from Dave.

 

An on-duty fireman with South Metro Fire Rescue practiced his confined space training by crawling through CaveSim. Photos: Gill Gilliland.

NSS 2014 Convention

A Junior Speleological Society participant gets ready to enter CaveSim, which was run by a great bunch of volunteers, including Red Schrock (left).  Photo by Natalie Pheasant
 
Highlights of the 2014 NSS Convention included:
  • More than 20 fantastic volunteers helped to run CaveSim while we were at home expecting our first baby. Thank you to everyone who helped!
  • Kim Fleischmann wrote, “I had a great time volunteering for CaveSim…. we talked to the high school vice principal for a bit. I walked by later & he brought some summer students over to do the CaveSim. This was a bunch of African-American kids who might never step foot inside a cave without this introduction.”
  • The JSS visited CaveSim for a good portion of one day. In addition to exploring CaveSim, they learned about cave rescue, played bat games, and did other hands-on activities.
  • About 250 trips were taken through CaveSim during the week. CaveSim (and our new squeezebox) was used for Speleolympics throughout the week.
  • 30 individuals, grottos and vendors sponsored our trip. Each sponsor was recognized with a laminated sign on the CaveSim trailer, and with recognition on Facebook and on CaveSim.com.
Convention sponsors:

Dick Blenz (above right) continues to be our biggest sponsor, and he is helping us get to Convention again this year.  Dick is a fellow electrical engineer and caver, and his generosity is truly incredible!

   

At the 2013 NSS Convention, we borrowed an ElSpeleo light to take pictures inside of CaveSim. The results were fantastic, and we’re still using those photos in our software today. ElSpeleo lights produce even better pictures than the 120V plug-in lights that we normally use for photography!

            

         

    

    

             

             

                   

REACH summer program

For the third consecutive year, students from the REACH summer program visited CaveSim to learn about caves, bats, geology, cave rescue and more. We did our most extensive demo of electronic equipment yet, and the students also got to practice cave rescue using the sked (rescue stretcher). The students will be going into a real wild cave later this week.

KidzFest, Lone Tree, Colorado

CaveSim was invited to the first annual KidzFest in Lone Tree, Colorado. We had many visitors despite closing early due to severe weather.  We had great help from cavers from the Canon City High School Caving club (Sierra, Hans and Cameron), and from Dave Lester and Jeff Polk.  Thanks to Phil Blighton of PB Media for taking and sharing the images below.  Contact Phil at 303-898-6177 for your event, portrait and video needs.
    
Sierra helps a boy get ready for CaveSim                  Dave teaches a girl about bats

Cresson Elementary School 5/22/2014

Third through sixth graders explored CaveSim on their last day of school.  Thanks to Cresson for inviting us, and to all of the teachers and staff for their support!

Kartchner Caverns Cave Fest

Great trip to Arizona and Kartchner Caverns for the annual Cave Fest. We were there Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and 500 people went through CaveSim. A big thanks to Teresa and Chris for inviting us!

Texas Cavers Reunion

Texas cavers took 192 trips through CaveSim at this year’s TCR.  Special thanks to Bill Steele for doing the fundraising for this event.  We really enjoyed TCR!  Thanks for having us.
Cavers wait to enter CaveSim at TCR  CaveSim was popular at TCR

Left: Cavers about to enter CaveSim. RIght: Cavers of all ages went through CaveSim. Photos: Tracy Jackson

Special cave tours plus CaveSim at Cave of the Winds

17 people participated in awesome special tours of Cave of the Winds led by Dave, Tracy, and other cavers.  Plus, they explored CaveSim. Trip information here.  Some of the proceeds will be used to help maintain and expand CaveSim.
BeforeTheCaveOfTheWindsSpecialTours
Participants of the special Cave of the Winds tours get ready to go on their muddy, crawling adventure to see parts of the cave that the general public does not generally visit.  Thanks to Cave of the Winds for letting us lead these trips.  Photo: Aaron, Cave of the Winds manager.