Avery Parsons Elementary School, Buena Vista, CO

A big thank-you to 5th grade teacher Becki Cummins for writing the grant to bring CaveSim back to Avery Parsons for a second year.  We worked with about 75 5th grade students for this full day program, which included several labs as well as all of our outdoor activities (CaveSim trailer, vertical caving tower, etc.)  A big thanks also to our friend Carole Perrin for allowing us to stay with her.


Above, a student has fun exploring CaveSim, while other students learn about pulleys and mechanical advantage from CaveSim staff member Jackson Fulcher. Photos by Heidi Leonhard, 5th grade teacher.

Las Animas Elementary School, Las Animas, CO

We put on a wonderful after-school program in partnership with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife SOLE program.  We worked with close to 200 students and family members during the two hour program, and had great help from Dan Sullivan in staffing the vertical caving tower.

Check out these great photos by Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff:

Above, finishing a fun trip through CaveSim. Below, having a blast on the CaveSim tower while learning the physics of simple machines.

Above, fun in the CaveSim squeezebox (with some good lessons about fractions). Below, Dave does a carbide lamp demo with a working acetylene light, while teaching chemistry concepts and vocabulary (like “exothermic reaction.”)

Have we mentioned that we’re passionate educators?  Dave teaches students that they, like him, can take what they learn in school and combine it with their passions to do something amazing.


Frost Elementary School, Georgetown, TX

There’s certainly benefit to working with smaller groups.  We worked with just 55 students during this program, but these 5th graders got to do so many different activities, including our karst topography lab, and geology demos (below).

Above, students watch a rock dissolution demo. Photo by Vivian Loftin.

Above, students play with cave rescue phones as part of a lesson about basic electronics. Photo by Vivian Loftin.

Wooldridge Elementary School, Austin, TX, February 28th – March 1st

On the evening of February 28th, we hurried over from McCallum High School to Wooldridge Elementary for an evening family science night, which kids loved.  We also worked with roughly 250 students in 1st-4th grade on March 1st, and we had amazing help from several Austin park rangers and from Vivian Loftin.

Here are some teacher quotes about the program, gathered by Melody Alcazar (Cities Connecting Children to Nature):

  • It was amazing experience for all students!
  • I loved that there were different activities and each leader was able to share their knowledge in an exciting way for the students.
  • It was so educational and hands on!
  • My kids really loved the presenters and how engaging they were.  My kids also really enjoyed the cave activities.
  • I liked all that was explaining with real examples. Something that we cannot do in class.
  • I liked how interactive and hands on the whole experience was. The kids really got a lot out of it and loved the new adventure.
  • The students loved the whole experience!  They couldn’t stop talking about it!

The survey also found that 10 out of 10 teachers said “Yes” when asked, “Would you like your students to participate if the CaveSim is brought back next year?”  These teachers rated the CaveSim experience a 9.5 out of 10.


McCallum High School, Austin, TX, February 25-28

We worked with over 1,100 students over the course of this four day program, and students learned about a wide variety of subjects, from conservation of mass/energy with carbide lamp demos to electromagnetism with cave rescue phone demos.  We had great help from Robin Gary and Jackie Vay of the Edwards Aquifer Barton Springs Conservation District, as well as from Denise and Mimi.

High school students get hands-on physics lessons with help from CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks. Photo by Edward Johnson, MacJournalism, McCallum HS.

Having fun with the squeezebox. Photo by Greg Alvarez, MacJournalism, McCallum HS.

Barrington Elementary School, Austin, TX

This wonderful program was put on with fantastic help from several Austin park rangers.

Above, Dave teaches students about cave chemistry while they wait to explore CaveSim. Below, CaveSim staffer Mary Hicks helps students learn about pulleys, mechanical advantage, friction, and other physics concepts on the 12′ CaveSim A-Frame. Photos by Melody Alcazar, Cities Connecting Children to Nature.

Above, students try the CaveSim squeezebox with help from an Austin Park Ranger. The park rangers did a great job of helping us staff this fun program. Below, students practice teamwork and communication skills with the cave rescue stretcher (Sked).  Photos by Melody Alcazar, Cities Connecting Children to Nature.

Edwards Aquifer Authority, San Antonio, TX

Dave was honored to be invited by Geary Schindel to be the guest speaker at an installment of the Edwards Aquifer Brown Bag Lunch series.  In addition to presenting about CaveSim’s educational activities, Dave and CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks brought CaveSim to the Edwards Aquifer Authority for staff and visitors to explore.  Despite the rain, we had about twenty folks explore the cave during their lunch break.  A big thank-you to Alf Hawkins for taking the pictures below and allowing us to share them with you!

Natural Bridge Caverns, San Antonio, TX

What an awesome turnout we had for this two-day event!  We had wonderful help from volunteers Jon Cradit and Frances Ruby, as well as from CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks.


Above, San Antonio caver Bennett Lee is all smiles as he explores CaveSim for the first time, and some siblings have fun learning about vertical caving on the 12′ CaveSim tower.  Photos by Frances Ruby.

Below, a zoomed-in picture of our new, comfy, and very safe Bosun’s chair (which is also much easier to put on than a traditional harness).


Brentwood Elementary School, Austin, TX

We were so excited to be invited back to this awesome school!  We had wonderful help from CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks and volunteer Patty Calabrese.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science SCFD Community Free Day, 10AM-4PM

Above, a participant gets first-hand experience with pulleys and mechanical advantage on the 12′ CaveSim A-frame.  Photo by Teresa Johnson.

Below, learning about stalactites and other speleothems from CaveDave (in red).  Photo by Teresa Johnson.

A busy day at CaveSim despite the cold weather at our DMNS program. Photo by Teresa Johnson.

Cedar Ridge Elementary Family Nature Night, Pueblo West, CO, 5-7PM

In partnership with the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife (CPW), we put on a great program for 123 students and family members.  We had fantastic help from friend and fellow caver Christine Kirkland, and the weather was perfect for the evening program.  The photos below are by CPW staff.


CaveSim’s Dave Jackson, in red, teaches students about the physics of pulleys and friction as they have fun on the 12′ CaveSim A-frame.


Kids have fun exploring CaveSim, and learning from awesome CaveSim helper Christine Kirkland.

Cool Science Carnival Day, UCCS, 10AM-4PM

We had great weather and a fantastic turnout for this free public event.  Thank you to all those who helped make this program possible, including Layla Borgens.

Photo by Floyd Fernandez

Recreation Center programs for PARD, Austin, TX, October 8, 2018

Kids from around Austin came to the Doris Miller Rec Center for a fun, hands-on program all about caves, science, and conservation.  This program was made possible by the generosity of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department, and reached a great group of students from diverse backgrounds.


Above, an Austin Nature & Science Center staff member uses the CaveSim squeezebox to teach kids about math and measurement skills.  Photo by ANSC staff.

Below, CaveSim inventor Dave Jackson (in red) demonstrates speleogenesis (how caves form) using weak acid and a variety of rock types. Photo by ANSC staff.

Above, students gain first-hand experience with physics and mechanical advantage using the CaveSim tower. Photo by ANSC staff.

Grove Public Schools, OK, Sept 26-27 & Oct 1-4

This six-day program for hundreds of students in three schools was an exciting expansion of our four-day program last year.  A huge thank-you to teacher and caver Deitra Biely for putting this together with us, and also to the Grove Public School foundation (GEFFE) for funding the program.  Our staff for the program did a phenomenal job, and included Mary Hicks, Jesse Yazetti, and Brent Biely.

Here are some pictures by Mary Hicks of the high school portion of our program:


Above, learning about bat biology outside the CaveSim trailer.  Below, investigating real live cave biota in the lab.

Below, just finished with a fun trip through CaveSim, and having fun learning about pulleys, mechanical advantage, and other physics concepts on the CaveSim 12′ A-frame.


Below, getting first-hand experience with friction via our rope-cutting demo.


Below, learning some basic electronics concepts while having fun with cave rescue phones.


Grove, OK: Students have fun with cave rescue phones while learning about electromagnetics

6th grade teacher Kim Hampton also took some photos of our program with her students:


All smiles while emerging from CaveSim, and while having fun with the squeezebox (and learning some math).