UNITE Pre-Collegiate Success Program, UCCS

This was our tenth consecutive day of CaveSim programs during our tour around New Mexico and Colorado.  It was a great program for 22 high school students interested in pursuing engineering careers. This event for the UNITE program included a hands-on electronics lab in which the students design, make, and test waterproof flashlights.

Full STEAM Ahead summer science program, CaveSim’s home base, Manitou Springs, CO

The 17 students in this program had a fantastic time designing and building their own waterproof cave flashlights.  They learned to solder, and got to test their lights in real muddy cave water.  They also explored the CaveSim trailer, enjoyed the squeezebox, Skedco stretcher, and our bat games.  We are honored that we have been asked to do this program (formerly called REACH) each year since 2012!

PEEC Nature Center free public event, Los Alamos, NM

We had several hundred people enjoy CaveSim at this free event at PEEC.  The event was sponsored by Classic Air Medical, who landed one of their helicopters next to the CaveSim trailer.

CaveSim inspires awe.  Photo by Thomas Graves.

CaveSim is fun for adults, too.  Photo by Thomas Graves.

We love teaching, and kids love learning (when you make it fun!)  Dave says, “One thousand years per cubic inch for this formation to grow!” Photo by Thomas Graves.

National Speleological Society Convention, Rio Rancho, NM

Such a great 5-day Convention!  The kids who attended got to do incredible CaveSim electronics labs.

Students soak up a lesson on electronics (based around our cave rescue phones).  The lesson included first-hand experience with time domain and frequency domain relationships and visualization. Photo by Jackson Fulcher.


Even the youngest cavers can bravely explore CaveSim. Photo by Jackson Fulcher.


Our awesome 2017 Convention sponsors include:

USFS Southwestern Region

Mesilla Valley Grotto       Bill Stringfellow


Get Outdoors Day, Denver, CO

A big thanks to the US Forest Service for bringing CaveSim to this fun event for the first time!  We were told that CaveSim was “the biggest hit of the event.”

Above: learning Single Rope Techniques (the Frog system!) with help from cavers Kevin Manley and Jen Foote.

Below: Father and daughter pass the cave bacon (drapery formations) inside of CaveSim. Photos by Get Outdoors Day staff.

Atlas Preparatory School summer program

This was our second year working with these great students, and they had an incredible time doing a cool electronics lab during this two-day program — they learned soldering, basic circuits, product design, and much more to create their waterproof flashlights.

US Air Force Academy, Falcon Trail Youth Center, CO

We were honored to be invited back to the Academy for the third time!  As always, the kids loved the cave, but they also loved our new rappelling and ascending tower.  Here are some pictures that parents shared with us:


Natalie and her little sister both loved the cave.  Natalie’s shirt sums up why we do so many cave conservation education events: “The Future is us!”  Natalie also got to try the Frog System.  She said that she’s afraid of heights, but she had no trouble going to the top of the 12′ tower.



Left: Dave gets Ian started with the Frog System. Right: Ian at the top of the tower.

Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City

Visitors loved this awesome free event at SMO from 9AM-6PM!  Thank you to SMO for making this event possible.


The Hall family having a great time exploring CaveSim.  Photos by Amy Hall.

Grove School District programs, Grove OK

This was our second year doing programs for students in the Grove Public School District.  This year, we expanded our program beyond Elementary School and we worked with older students as well.  A huge thanks to caver and teacher Deitra Biely for making this 5-day program happen!

Dave at home preparing Petri dishes with agar for our high school biology lab about cave biota. During the lab at Grove High School, a student asked his teacher, “Why can’t we do this kind of thing in biology class?” to which Dave replied, “This IS biology class!”  Student: “Oh, right!”  Photo by Tracy Jackson. 


Left: Dave and Pat demonstrate rappelling and ascending on the new tower. Right: caver Brent Biely having fun in the squeezebox during the after-school program. Photos: Paul Schwotzer.


Left: High school biology students explore CaveSim and look for cave biota. Right: Dave teaching knots. Photos by Paul Schwotzer.


High school students learn Single Rope Techniques (ascending) on our new tower.  These students volunteered with us later in the week by teaching the 3rd graders all about bats. Photos by Paul Schwotzer.

Legacy Academy, Elizabeth CO

About 54 fifth graders had an incredible time learning all about caves, science, engineering, teamwork, and more at six different stations during this four-hour program.  We had incredible help from five parent volunteers and two CaveSim educators (great job teaching geology, Tracy and Paul!)

Big Cool Science Festival, Colorado College

Colorado College is Tracy’s alma mater and the site of our first CaveSim school program back in 2010.  We had great turnout and awesome weather for this fun free public event.

Tracy, holding vertical caving gear, and Bob Colloply (former student of Dick Blenz, our biggest supporter)

Spring Break Camp, CaveSim at CityROCK

We had strong turnout for the 5-day Spring Break Vertical Caving Camp in the CaveSim system at CityROCK Climbing Gym in Colorado Springs.  The Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper came and took some great pictures of our participants learning to ascend in the 40′ vertical cave.

While ascending 40′, Merrick waves through a window from the vertical cave to the children’s playroom. Photo by Mark Reis, The Colorado Springs Gazette.

Lake George Charter School Science Night

In addition to bringing CaveSim to this school-wide event, Dave was the keynote speaker and spoke from personal experience about caves, science, engineering, and cave rescue.  CaveSim was hugely popular, with families staying beyond the end of the event so that they could try exploring the cave.

Students learn about the similarities and differences between bat and human skeletal structures. Photos by Lake George staff. Student photo permissions on file with school.

A student about to enter CaveSim. Watch out for those speleothems!

Students adjust the squeezebox, which teaches measurement science and shows the students their personal limits (it’s like the limbo, but for caving!)

Dave teaching cave science (speleology) while students wait in line to use CaveSim.

Dave calls on students during the keynote speech.

Patriot Elementary School STEM Night

We had fantastic turnout at this great Patriot Elementary School STEM event for the second year in a row!  Even the teachers and staff had fun:

Photo by Cara Greene, Patriot Elementary School STEM Coordinator.

The Colorado Springs School, Spring Hackathon Seminar

What an incredible program! Students in grades 6-8 learned basic circuits, programmed microcontrollers, and built cave-proof electronics projects. They got to test their projects in a giant bucket of muddy cave water, and then bring the projects down to CityROCK to try them in the CaveSim system there.  Not only that, but each student got to rappel into the cave, and everyone got a behind-the-scenes tour of the system and the associated electronics.

     Learning soldering (left) and “Look at what I built! It works!”  All photos in this post by CSS staff.

     Left: Dave helps a student debug his circuit.  Right: Building a circuit with a computer chip!

   Left: Students work on their circuits. They also learned computer programming by writing code for their computer chips. Center: caver Patricia Malone helps a student. Right: Learning to use power tools to drill holes in a container for a waterproof flashlight.

   Left: Reviewing a design by talking with Dave. Right: Circuits are for girls!

Please buy from our generous NEW sponsor

Because cavers love a nice warm tub, and every tub needs a replacement cover at some point!  The Cover Guy has everything you need for your tub: hot tub covers, lifters, hot tub filters, chemicals, and accessories.  Plus, they have a great blog.

Kartchner Caverns Cave Fest

We had great turnout for our third visit to Kartchner Caverns in Arizona.  Check out our event flier to see all of the activities we did over a 2-day period.  A huge thank-you to cavers Teresa and Hanna for helping.


A caver from one of the Tucson grottos explores CaveSim. Photo: Dave Jackson


Belinda Norby, a caver from Tucson, takes pictures of her friend, who was visible on the CaveSim night vision cameras. Photo: Dave Jackson.