News

Sustain-A-Fest, Colorado Springs, CO

We had a great time at this event, which ran from noon to 6PM.

Having fun with pulleys and vertical caving, with great instruction provided by volunteer Dan O’Sullivan.  

Volunteer Darren Kelley talks with kids as they wait to explore CaveSim.

Avery Parson Elementary School, Buena Vista, CO

   

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.

Longfellow Elementary School, Salida, CO

Four classes of 4th grade students had a great time experiencing our program on the last day before their spring break.  We had great help from five students in 7th and 8th grade at the Crest Academy.  A huge thank-you to principal Jill Davis from Crest for organizing this program, and to Lewis Dove for his hospitality in Salida.

Aspen Creek K8, Broomfield, CO

This fun program included both during-school and after school components.  All 8th grade students experienced CaveSim during the during-school portion, and kids of all ages came with their parents to the evening program.

Academy International Elementary School, Colorado Springs, CO

Thanks to Julie Haverluk for working with us on this program!  We worked with about 600 students in one day at this amazing school, and we even had time for the students to do our sinkhole lab.  We had great help from Paul Schwotzer, Christine Kirkland, and Teresa and Hanna Johnson for helping out with the program.

Ben Franklin Academy, Highlands Ranch, CO, Tuesday-Friday

This was a great four-day program for 635 students in grades K-5 and 8.  Our program including the vertical caving tower, rescue practice with the Sked, fun (and math) with the squeezebox, several bat games, and of course the mobile cave.  We had awesome help from Trisha Beudreau, Patricia Malone, Layla Borgens, and Jackson Fulcher.

Teacher Laura Tickle said of the program, “this was as wonderful program and the kiddos loved it! We are so glad we did it.

  

8th grade students learn how to ascend a rope using mechanical ascenders (the Frog system), with help from Dave. Photo credit: Laura Tickle and Emily Ward.

An 8th grade student works his way through the squeezebox while another student stands on the lid to keep the lid from lifting up. Students measure the box to see who fits through the tightest space (and to practice their math and measurement skills). Photo credit: Laura Tickle and Emily Ward.

Colorado Springs School at CityROCK

During this great program, we taught 14 middle school students from CSS about SRT (Single Rope Techniques, including rappelling with a rack, ascending with the Frog System, and Prusiking), horizontal cave rescue, and numerous cave-related science concepts.

Ryan Elementary School, Lafayette, CO

This was an amazing 3-day program for over 600 students, preschool through 5th grade.  We even had another school (Sanchez Elementary) bring their students over to Ryan Elementary so that they could benefit from the program without having to pay for transportation of the cave system.  A huge thanks to PE teacher Beth Buchanan for bringing us in, and to Patricia Malone and all the parent volunteers for working with the students.

Students eagerly listen as Dave explains how CaveSim works.

Students eagerly peer at a bat skeleton encased in glass.

Pre-school children try the cave rescue stretcher. 

Dave demonstrates a working carbide lamp. Photos above are by Beth Buchanan and other Ryan Elementary staff.

Arrowwood Elementary, Littleton, CO

  

  

The amazing photos above are by Sam Glass, 6th grade student in Mr. Roger’s class at Arrowwood Elementary School.

 

  

  

    The fantastic photos above are by Nick Bennett, 6th grader in Mr. Roger’s class at Arrowwood Elementary School.

 

During this 2-day program, 235 students in preschool through 4th grade experienced CaveSim and three of our other educational stations, including our 12′ ropes tower.  A big thanks to Sam Hinkle and Jackson Fulcher for helping with this great program.  We could write lots more words, but we’ll let someone else do the talking from here:

STEAM teacher Dana Palmer wrote to us after the program, “I wanted to thank you for our CaveSim experience- it exceeded our expectations- We found your program was the perfect combination of innovation, responsibility, preservation and education.  In addition to being hands-on there was a great deal of knowledge passed on to our students in a very tangible and relatable way.  You and your crew are extremely knowledgeable and the delivery was on par with seasoned educators.  We were truly impressed with how smoothly everything went- every detail planned perfectly, simply amazing.

Some other great feedback written by parents, teachers, and students:

I am so glad I volunteered at this event.  It was great to see kids so engaged and active.  This is what learning is all about” –parent volunteer

I can not wait to get older and follow my passion and invent cool things like Mr. Dave” –3rd grader

We had to extend writing time by 30 minutes because the students were so excited and inspired by CaveSim they wanted to just keep writing in their journals” –2nd grade teacher

My students are not easily challenged and they came to me after CaveSim eager to investigate caves and pulleys” –Gifted and Talented coordinator

My students rarely write more than a sentence in their journals, but today they wrote entire paragraphs on what it means to be an inventor like Dave with the Cave” –Resource teacher who works with struggling students

Despite snow flurries, the students and their PE teacher were eager to explore CaveSim.

CaveSim isn’t just for kids! This classroom teacher had a great time exploring.

Austin Independent School District Elementary and High School programs, Austin, TX, Feb 9 and Feb 12-15, 2018

Our Austin High School program was really well received.  Students even came back to learn more during their break time (Flexible Instruction Time, or FIT).

Above, exploring inside CaveSim while looking for cave biota, artifacts, and cool formations.

  

Above left, emerging from a fun trip through the cave. Above right, students lift a football-player classmate up the 12′ CaveSim tower using the mechanical advantage afforded by pulleys.

Students and their teacher (Elise Gonzalez) gathered outside the CaveSim trailer.

Our elementary school programs were a big hit as well…

  

Above left: Students at Brentwood Elementary School have fun while learning about pulleys and mechanical advantage on the CaveSim vertical caving tower. Above right: Brentwood students practice their teamwork and communication skills by working together to carry a classmate in our Skedco stretcher. Photos by Theresa Wood, teacher.

 

We were so pleased to make the most of our trip to Austin by doing programs for Baranoff, Houston, Blanton, and Brentwood Elementary schools, and Austin High School.  A very big thank-you to everyone who helped, especially Mike and Donna Frazier, Rich Zarria, and Robin.

Teacher Pat Jones at Houston Elementary wrote, “CaveSim was amazing. I had students come up to me the next day, give me a big hug and say ‘Thank you Ms. Jones for having the cave at our school. It was so fun.’

The students were able to understand cave formations, organisms and cave safety. You and the other cave experts were fantastic. You were able to share important content related to earth science and life science. Each part of the presentation was aligned to our science standards.  They particularly loved climbing through the cave and the ‘tower’. Mike was great. 

Thanks for all that  you do. We would love to see you back next year.

Students at Brentwood Elementary carry the Skedco stretcher.

City of Austin CaveFest, Austin, TX, Saturday-Sunday, February 10-11, 2018

We are honored to have attended this fun public event for the first year.  The event was free and well attended, despite the cold weather.  And what an awesome video put together by Jessica Gordon and the other event organizers!

Thanks to Rich, Aimee, Geoff, Alice, and so many others for helping with this program.

Palmer Lake Elementary 5th grade

Teacher Becky Balkenbush told Tracy that, “I’ve never seen our students so engaged before!”  46 students participated, and got to experience a brand new part of our program: our mechanical systems lab.  Students got hands-on experience with pulleys and mechanical advantage on our 12′ rappelling tower.  They also loved learning to solder while doing our waterproof flashlight lab.  A big thank-you to Tracy Jackson, Jackson Fulcher, Cole Claton, and Floyd Fernandez for helping to run this great program.

Students learn to solder with a helping hand from Dave.

 

Students plan and build their waterproof caving flashlights, which they then tested in the big bucket of water in the background. Photos by Tracy Jackson. Photo waivers on file.

The University School of Colorado Springs Adventure Program, SRT class at CityROCK, 10AM-2:30PM

Working with high school students is so rewarding! I had the honor of teaching young men and women about vertical caving, but more importantly about leadership, teamwork, and self reliance during a mock rescue in the CaveSim system at CityRock. We had search teams, comms team, medic, and evac team. There were bumps in the road, but the students learned a lot and so did I. A big thank-you to teacher Cole Paris of The University School for being the patient in the mock rescue, and for co-teaching with me.

Caving Camp participants put conservation into practice

At CityRock, our caving camps are about much more than just having fun. Our participants learn the conservation ethic, and sometimes get to put what they’ve learned into practice. During a recent real caving trip, our participants took the time to clean up some terrible vandalism done by thoughtless people. Here are some pictures of the vandalized area before and after the cleanup:

It’s sad that thoughtless people feel the need to leave their mark on beautiful natural areas, but it’s encouraging that we get to teach young people both to not wreck an area and also to help clean up after others.

Art has it’s place, but that place isn’t on a cave wall covered in delicate crystals! This is what our caving campers took the initiative to clean up. Photos by Khylin Verplank.

After the cleanup, no evidence is left of the mud sculptures on the delicate wall. Photo by Gabe Wright.

 

Our campers also learned about calcium carbide during this fun demo:

 

The University School, Colorado Springs, CO

Ever wonder what grade levels can do CaveSim?  During this awesome program for The University School, we worked with every grade from pre-K through high school.  Because we have such a breadth of program capability, each grade level loved our program and we successfully worked with about 200 students from 9AM-5PM.  The staff is already scheduling more programs with us for January 2018!