News

CoolScience Festival Day, UCCS

For the fourth year in a row, CaveSim attended the CoolScience Festival Day at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS).  Hundreds of people stopped by for this FREE event.  Thanks to the Colorado Grotto for making yet another free CaveSim event possible.  More festival info here.
A boy emerging from CaveSim Boy and dad get ready to cave
Click each photo for a larger version. Photos by Tracy Jackson

CaveSim at Agilent Giving Campaign kick-off event

I was very honored to be asked by Agilent to bring CaveSim to the company charitable giving campaign kick-off event.  By day, I’m an electrical engineer at Agilent, and it was really fun to share my project with all of my co-workers.  All proceeds from this event went to the giving campaign, which supports organizations like United Way.
CaveSim at Agilent
Dave talks with fellow engineers at Agilent, with CaveSim in the background. Photo: Matt Martin.

Boy Scout Troop 287 meeting and court of honor

Dozens of scouts and family members explored CaveSim at a troop meeting of BSA Troop 287 this evening. For many, this was a first exposure to caving, and the scouts learned about cave conservation, and the importance of safety and preparedness for high-adventure activities like caving.

CaveSim receives full patent protection

We received a letter from the US Patent and Trademark Office notifying us that CaveSim’s patent application has been approved in full.  An exciting day!
Dav
Dave, tired but pleased, with the letter from the USPTO that indicates full patent issuance. Photo by Mark Phillips

National Speleological Society convention, Shippensburg, PA

Highlights included:
– This great video by Dave Socky of Charles Kahn crawling through CaveSim:
Dave Socky's video
– Over 200 people explored CaveSim for free at Convention this year.  That’s about 1/3 of all registrants!
– We worked with 22 under-privileged high school students (and 7 college students) in the Upward Bound program for about 2.5 hours on Monday.  Most of the students had never been caving before, and they had a fantastic time exploring CaveSim.  They asked brilliant questions, and it was a great opportunity for us to teach the general public about cave conservation.  A big thank-you to Mary Sue Socky for helping us so much by teaching during this great event.
Upward Bound students
Dave gives a closing talk to Upward Bound students, telling them to pursue education in order to create things like CaveSim. Photo by Juli Jackson

– We worked with the JSS for 3 hours on Monday. In addition to exploring CaveSim, they experienced sinkholes with a hands-on activity, did patient packaging and transport with a real sked, played with real cave phones (field phones), played a bat migration game, and played a bat ecolocation game.

Sinkhole activity        JSSandSked
Dave leads sinkhole activity. Girl in blue eats some sugar!     Dave teaches patient packaging. Photos: Juli Jackson

– Quite a number of university students from right here on campus have stopped by during the last few days to explore CaveSim. We’ve had several football players explore caves for the first time, and it’s a good thing their first trip was not in a real cave!

BeatriceInCaveSim
Beatrice (Dave’s godsister) explores CaveSim.

– I brought 3 high school students with us from Colorado. These 3 students (Brian, Emily and Sierra) are all cavers back home, and they’re learning about educating others about cave conservation. They’ve done a great job of teaching the younger participants.

Sierra and Emily (center) help JSS participants get geared up while Brian (seated) runs the computer and Dave (right) looks on. Photo by Juli Jackson
– The wife of a long-time NSS member experienced caving for the first time by exploring CaveSim. She told us CaveSim was the highlight of the convention for her, since she had never been caving before!

The woman above was thrilled to make her first caving trip in CaveSim.

– We’ve had quite a number of people compete in the speleolympics thus far. Our best scores so far are:
Women: 0 damage, 2mins, 41secs
Men: 1 damage, 2mins, 7secs
Youth: 0 damage, 2mins, 49secs

Field phone challenge
The field phone challenge involves running communications wire and military telephones through CaveSim. Photo: DJ

CaveSim at “Gotta Love Local” Fiesta in Colorado Springs

Hundreds came to Mountain Mama Natural Foods (map here) on Saturday, June 1st between 10AM and 4PM to check out CaveSim for free! In addition to CaveSim, Joe Uveges played fantastic music and there were many vendors. The event was sponsored by Gotta Love It Market and Kitchen. Thanks to Leslie of Seeds Community Cafe for inviting us, and thanks to Gary Amarill for helping out a huge amount today.
Girl and field phone Second girl and field phone

Two friends learn about field phones after exploring CaveSim. Learn more here: http://fieldphone.blogspot.com/. Thanks to Jeff Polk for putting the phones on loan. Photos by Dave Jackson.

Falcon Middle School 6th graders explore CaveSim

Quote of the day: “This is the best science class I’ve had — ever!”  150 6th graders explored CaveSim today at Falcon Middle School.  They’re studying rocks and the rock cycle, and they learned all about speleogenesis (how caves form).  They also learned about cave rescue, and some even saw a TP-6N field telephone, used for in-cave communication during rescues (see http://fieldphone.blogspot.com/).  A big thanks to Jeff Polk for putting these phones on long-term loan.  Also, a big thanks to Margaret Browne (Falcon Middle School science teacher) for inviting us, and for helping so much during the day (helping with gear, providing lunch and helping to maintain order!)
Falcon teach

Falcon Middle School teachers David (math) and Margaret (science). Photo by Dave Jackson

Mountain Equipment Recyclers open house crawls with fun

Several hundred people turned out for Mountain Equipment Recycler’s spring open house today. Many of them enjoyed CaveSim. A big thanks to MER for inviting us to take part (and for donating several Petzl helmets!) Be sure to check out their store on Tejon St. for great used gear.
Brendan, Mike and Julie of MER.

Brendan, Mike and Julie Mazzola of MER. A SpeleoSoap bat hangs behind Mike. Photo: Dave Jackson

National Cave Rescue Commission Orientation to Cave Rescue

About 40 rescue personnel, fire fighters, EMTs and cavers learned about cave rescue, and participated in a mock rescue in a real cave this past weekend!  CaveSim took part in the NCRC Orientation to Cave Rescue by giving rescue trainees a great sense of what a real cave is like.  Two evacuation teams carried volunteer patients through CaveSim, as shown below.  Rescuers found that communication and patient safety can be difficult to manage in tight spaces filled with delicate formations.  Visit www.coloradocaverescue.org to learn more about cave rescue in Colorado. Photos by Steve Reames and Dave Jackson.

NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN

Middle school students teach 4th graders about caves, bats, history

We took CaveSim to the Manitou Elementary School today for the 4th graders. Today was the Day of Service for the middle school, so 15 middle school kids volunteered as guides and taught 75 4th graders all about caves. Everyone did an awesome job, and we had fun tying caves into what the 4th graders are studying (Colorado history) by talking about native peoples and their rock art and artifacts. It was so cool to see the middle school students each use their strengths (teaching, public speaking, computer skills, etc.)

37 teachers visit CaveSim and Cave of the Winds to learn cave ed.

How much cave education can you fit in four hours?  A lot, as 37 teachers learned today at CaveSim and Cave of the Winds.  The teachers took special trips through CaveSim, did hands-on cave science activities at several stations with Tracy, and took custom cave tours at Cave of the Winds led by Dave and Tracy.  We did the program for the Peak Area Leadership in Science group, which lets teachers earn continuing education credit.  A huge thanks to them for including us in their program.

Highlights of the CaveSim portion of the program included cave survey work for a few teachers, along with searches by other teachers for archaeological artifacts and ecological evidence within CaveSim (thanks to Tracy for getting the terracotta jug).  In the process, the teachers learned about lampshade spiders, Golondrinas swallows, micro-habitats, corrosion residue, and a host of other speleological topics.

At Tracy’s science stations, the teachers created miniature sinkholes.  They grew cave formations, and they worked at mineral identification.

After the CaveSim and science station work, we went to Cave of the Winds to explore a real cave on trips led by Dave and Tracy (thanks to Cave of the WInds for allowing us to be tour guides for the day!)  The teachers built on what they learned earlier by seeing real beaded helictites, corrosion residue, joint-controlled cave systems, shields, and more.  Some of the teachers even got to see lampshade spider webs.

If you’re a teacher or if you’re interested in our cave education programs, check out our new programs brochure.  We love using CaveSim to teach kids about a wide variety of subjects (almost every subject you can think of ties into CaveSim: science, technology, engineering, math, archaeology, history, geology, biology, ecology, chemistry, art, and even physical education).

Colorado Springs School (CSS) students visit CaveSim

10 high school students from The Colorado Springs School came to visit CaveSim today (here’s an article written by the students about the trip).  The students are in a seminar course about rock art (petroglyphs, pictographs, etc.)  Their teachers decided that CaveSim would be a great way to introduce the students to the concept of exploring fragile environments.  Tracy added cave paintings to CaveSim specifically for this group, and Dave added sensors to the cave paintings to warn visitors when they get too close to the rock art.  As the students crawled through CaveSim, they toted their sketch books and learned that it can be difficult to sketch in small cave passage!  The students also learned about a host of other topics, including geology, history, cave safety, and biology (e.g. rock varnish and white nose syndrome).  The students did an excellent job, and we enjoyed working with them.

Pictograph
Tracy’s cave painting. If you come up with a good story for this painting, tell us and we’ll post it!

Middle school student learns electronics in CaveSim lab

Ann
Anna came with her dad to visit the CaveSim mad scientist lab to learn about electronics for her school innovation project.  Before she had ever heard of CaveSim, she decided that her project would be to build a voice recording / playback device to help her remember to do things. When I heard about Anna’s project from her dad, I invited them to the CaveSim lab to learn about electronics.  She explored CaveSim, which has voice modules (the modules say things like, “Please do not shine your light on the bat!”)  The modules are the same ones that she could use for her project.  In the picture above, she is talking with me about the electronics of a voice module.  She is wearing a helmet because she enjoyed CaveSim so much that she didn’t want to take the helmet off!  She learned about various electronic components, and about how they’re like the plumbing in her house.  She also got to watch her voice make waves on the oscilloscope!

We enjoyed having Anna over because we believe in inspiring young people to follow their passion, whether that be electronics, science, art, or something else.  As we always tell kids, if you’re willing to learn and work hard, you too can build cool things like CaveSim.

Thanks again to everyone who supports us — you help us to teach kids like Anna to follow their dreams.

Anna's voice on the scope

Anna’s voice being played back on the scope. Photos by Dave and Tracy.

US Air Force Academy Youth Center hosts CaveSim

About 43 kids from the US Air Force Academy’s Youth Center explored CaveSim today and learned all about bats and caves.  They even practiced cave rescue using the sked that was donated earlier this year by Nigel Dyson.
Almost done!

A boy exploring CaveSim. Kids kept asking to go through again!  Photo: Tracy Jackson

Kids thank Dick Blenz

Kids and staff thank Corporal Dick Blenz, a WWII veteran and caver who sponsored the CaveSim trip to USAFA.  Photo: Dave Jackson

Kids play with the sked

Kids learn about how difficult cave rescue is.  They’re moving a sked (like a stretcher) that contains the weight of an adult man.  Photo: Tracy Jackson

Kids at USAFAKids gather with Kyla (USAFA staff) and Dave to thank Dick Blenz for sponsoring the CaveSim program.

First birthday party at CaveSim

Happy 14th Birthday, Skyler!  Skyler and his friends joined us for the first CaveSim birthday party today, and they had an awesome time.  We donated a party to the Catamount Institute fundraising auction as a way of supporting Catamount’s outdoor and environmental education programs.  Skyler’s parents, Julie Francis and Howard Drossman (Catamount’s founders), won the party by donating generously to Catamount.
Do you want a CaveSim birthday party?  Check out our party page!  Your party will help us continue our mission of doing cave education programs and conservation outreach.  And you’ll have a blast!

Biggest day on record for CaveSim

Thanks to the generosity of our backers, we had a record day at the 2012 CoolScience Festival with over 320 kids (and some adults) exploring CaveSim.

The enclosed CaveSim trailer on a busy day

People gather around the CaveSim trailer at the CoolScience Festival.  Photo: Jay Alexander.

A boy's first caving trip

A boy avoids the cave bacon while exploring the deepest part of CaveSim.  This photo was taken by looking in one of our three emergency exits.  The black box to the right of the boy is a cave rescue cache like the ones located in many Colorado caves.  Photo: DeeAnn Rothstein, CoolScience.

Dave at the back of the trailer

Dave, at the back of the trailer.  Participants enter and exit at the front of the trailer.  Photo: DeeAnn Rothstein, CoolScience.

Maiden voyage of CaveSim trailer was a great success

75 kids had a blast crawling through CaveSim and learning about caves and bats at Gold Camp Elementary School in Colorado Springs today.  The 5th grade students are studying ecosystems, which fits perfectly with the CaveSim lessons; while visiting CaveSim and our activity stations, they learned that every ecosystem on the planet can contain caves.  They also learned about the importance of bats in the food chain.  The maiden voyage of CaveSim was made possible by many people.  Thanks to the 100 people who helped us purchase the trailer, and to Marty Grove for lending us is truck (again!), and to Tracy Jackson and Steve Roach for taking the day off to change the lives of 75 children.  Also, a big thanks to Jesse Rochette for helping to construct more cave passage inside the trailer, and to Rudy for his expert welding work.
Trailer and truck

The CaveSim trailer and Marty’s truck after a hard day’s work educating 5th grade children. Photo: Tracy Jackson