Larissa Phillips sets new women’s world record for CaveSim

A new women’s world record for CaveSim was set today by Larissa Phillips of Colorado Springs.  Larissa’s score was 0 damage in 1 minute, 20 seconds.  She set her record on her first trip through CaveSim ever, and she seemed really pleased and surprised to have done so well.  Larissa has limited caving experience, which makes her record even more impressive.  She is a climber who works at CityROCK Climbing Center, which is great climbing gym located in downtown Colorado Springs.   The previous record was 0 damage in 1 minute, 27 seconds held by Andrea Corlett of Alberta, Canada.

Larissa Phillips of Colorado Springs, who set a new women’s record for CaveSim.  Photo: Larissa Phillips

Students enjoy keynote speech at symposium

Over 150 kids and adults attended the Catamount Institute Symposium today at Colorado College and learned about both caving and invention from Dave Jackson of CaveSim (“Dave from a Cave!”)  The Symposium is like a science fair where 4th and 5th grade students present their projects about caves, bats, water and underground ecology.  Instead of just answering a scientific question, the students take community action to solve a cave-related problem.  Dave’s talk emphasized the importance of using creativity to solve real-world problems, like Dave did with CaveSim.  Of course, the talk was also fun — who doesn’t want to hear stories about digging giant holes?

Watch a high-energy talk by “nationally known caver and inventor… David Jackson”:

One 5th grade student exclaimed, “This has been one of the best days of my life!”  The Catamount staff also had high praise: Darlene Jensen, Executive Director, commented that, “[Dave] Coming in full gear with such a wealth of information was incredible to all the students, young and old.”
Dave talks with a student
Dave, in full caving gear, listens as a student describes their crawl-through cave, made of moving boxes & other recyclables. Photo: Chris Aaby, Catamount Institute

A sad story with a good moral 5/5/2012

Quick story: Tracy and I went caving today with some first-time cavers and we saw these incredibly beautiful cave formations (see picture below).  Then we saw some super-delicate formations that someone had vandalized by pressing mud spheres into the formations in at least 30 places (see attached picture again).  Because of the ignorance of some unknown person on a previous trip, at least hundreds of years of natural growth had been wiped out in minutes, with the formations never to be the same again.  I found this extremely sad, and I told our group that this is why I haul around a 1600 pound cave simulator to teach kids about caves.  Because people can only protect what they understand.

I thought that I would share this story as a reminder that we could use your help to put cave education and outreach programs on the road.  Even if you only want to give $1, you’ll help us a lot by increasing the number of people who’ve pledged.  My standard joke is that everyone has at least $1 in change between the seats of their car.  Of course, if you can’t find a dollar between your seats, you can always tell a friend to support our project.

Wrecked gypsum and pristine helictites
Click images to enlarge. Left: mud smeared on gypsum crystals. Right: a pristine helictite. Photos: Chris Rehorn

Manitou YES Club visits CaveSim

You’ve probably already figured out that we work hard to teach kids and adults about cave conservation using CaveSim.  What does that look like?  Here’s a photo of a Manitou Springs Elementary student during their field trip to the CaveSim garage today.  You can tell that the only thing on this student’s mind is our lesson about why you shouldn’t touch cave formations.  The amazing thing about CaveSim is that I’ve had kids come back a year after their first visit and recite back to me everything we taught them about cave conservation.  So, yes, they’re really learning.
Concentrating while caving!
Photo: Erik Mattson

YES Club visits CaveSim

Ms. Downey’s YES Club from Taylor Elementary had a great time visiting CaveSim today.  They learned about safe caving, cave rescue, and about some formations that they hadn’t heard of before.

Right: Students watch monitors and video feeds to see how well a classmate navigates CaveSim.
Left: A student having a great time in the popcorn crawl.
Photos by Katy Downey

CaveSim staff assist in a real cave rescue

It’s 3AM Eastern, and Dave, Tracy and Scott (Tracy’s brother) just got back to Atlanta from participating as rescuers in a successful cave rescue in a cave in Alabama.  This was Dave and Tracy’s first real rescue, and we were extremely well prepared by our CCRN (Colorado Cave Rescue Network) training.  Thanks, CCRN!  The Huntsville, Atlanta and other rescue teams did a great job.  Dave, Tracy and Scott were with the patient from almost first contact all the way to the ambulance, and we are glad that the patient was doing well when they arrived at the ambulance.

We look forward to bringing CaveSim to many future cave rescue training events.  If you’ve donated to us, thank you!  If you have yet to donate, here’s one more reason to give.  Donate now!

Patient in a ferno

Dave and Tracy (in the yellow helmets) work with Eddie (Alabama SAR) to package the patient during the Tumbling Rock rescue. Photo: Jonathan McDole.

Buena Vista Elementary YES Club visits CaveSim

Students from Mr. Rochette’s YES Club at Buena Vista Elementary School (in Colorado Springs) crawled through CaveSim today and learned more about caves and bats.  Quote of the day: “I just want to say, you’re awesome for building this cave!”

Canon City HS students use CaveSim for mock rescue

Students from the Canon City High School Caving Club stopped by the CaveSim garage to experience their first mock cave rescue.  As they learned, cave rescue is extremely difficult (especially with uncooperative patients!) The students also went caving with Dave and other Williams Canyon trip leaders on a trip to Swirling Mist.  The students did an awesome job helping with digging and erosion control projects.

CCHS caving club in Swirling Mist cave

Club members pose inside Swirling Mist after a long day of caving. Photo by Ken Cline.

CaveSim staff lead Canon City HS students on caving trip

Students from the Canon City High School Caving Club went caving with Dave, Tracy and other Williams Canyon trip leaders on a trip to Huccy’s.  The students did an awesome job taking care of the cave and one another.

Tracy and CCHS club members in Huccy's

Tracy (left) and students from CCHS pose after enjoying the mudslide in the Buffalo Room. Photo: Ken Cline

Half way to West Virginia

The National Speleological Foundation (NSF) has agreed to fund CaveSim’s return transportation to Colorado from the 2012 NSS Convention, MayaCon.  Now all we need is help getting to convention is the first place.  The NSF was generous enough to fund half of this trip, bringing CaveSim to thousands of convention goers, community members, and teachers across the county.  Can you or your grotto help CaveSim with the rest?  Contact us.

CaveSim staff teach kids speleology in Cave of the Winds

Cavers from CaveSim, Southern Colorado Mountain Grotto, and Catamount Institute gathered Sunday to provide special cave exploration tours at Cave of the Winds.  Highlights included vertical (SRT) demonstrations, hands-on cave survey work, bat surveys, and speleogenesis classes.  Everyone did a great job today and yesterday; special thanks to SoCoMoGro members Floyd, Patricia, Dan, LP, Mike, Donna, and Jonny.  Dave had a great time teaching speleology and speleogenesis (in the pictures below, Dave gets to play with acid).

Dave demonstrates acid on limestone

Dave teaches about corrosion residue and demonstrates acid on limestone. Photos by Emerson Killion.

245 people explore CaveSim at 2011 CoolScience Festival at UCCS

We had a record number of visitors crawl through CaveSim today, including some repeat customers from the Colorado Springs festival last year who came to check out all that we’ve added.  People can’t get enough of CaveSim!
Click the images to enlarge them.
Kids learn about caves while waiting in line at UCCS. 
Kids learn about caves while waiting in line, and excitedly peer into CaveSim. Photos by Bruce Hutchison.

Over 1000 served

CaveSim has now had over 1000 visitors in one year and eight months!  Thank you to all of our visitors.

New 3D photos by Peter and Ann Bosted

Thanks to Peter and Ann Bosted, we now have great 3D photos of CaveSim.  Below is a picture of Ann inspecting a big stal in CaveSim.

Ann Bosted and large stal
3D photo by Peter and Ann Bosted

Glenwood’s Post Independent publishes article on Speleolympics

Glenwood Springs’ newspaper, the Post Independent, published a great front-page article on Friday about the Speleolympics and CaveSim.  Visit the Post Independent site to read the article, or check out the pdf below:
In addition, we heard some great comments from participants during the week.  Thanks to everyone who gave us feedback.  Check out some of the comments on our Testimonials page.

Also, we have some final numbers from the Convention.  We had 327 visits to CaveSim during the week with an average damage of 8.9 and an average time of 2:49.5.  Below is a plot of the data that we recorded (click to enlarge).

Histogram of caver "damage"

Announcing the Speleo Olympics winners for 2011 NSS Convention

This year’s speleo olympics included CaveSim as a new category.  Competition started on Monday morning and closed at 1PM today (Thursday).  Thanks to everyone who competed, and congratulations to our winners:
Women’s:     Andrea Corlett from Alberta, Canada with:   0 damage in 1 minute, 28 seconds
Men’s:          Derek Bristol from Colorado with:                0 damage in 1 minute, 37 seconds
Youth:          Philip Weaver with:                                     0 damage in 0 minutes, 33 seconds

Andrea Corlett receiving prizes from Dave Jackson for being a Speleolympic champion. Photo: Andy Belski