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2017 news: 

> 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:


Colorado Science Conference, Denver, CO, November 17, 2017, 8AM-4PM

What an awesome event!  We had so many fun-loving science teachers crawl and climb through CaveSim, and we presented our awesome hands-on CaveSim biology and STEM programs.


> The University School, Colorado Springs, CO, October 24, 2017, 9AM-5PM

Ever wonder what grade levels can do CaveSim?  During this awesome program, 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.  The staff is already scheduling more programs with us for January 2018!


Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK, October 21, 2017, 9AM-6PM

CaveSim was extremely popular at SMO during this second visit.  We did some demonstrations and activities that we didn't do during our last visit, including our carbide demonstrations (we lit ice on fire!)
Visitors watch Dave (in cowboy hat) do a carbide lamp demonstration while waiting to explore CaveSim. Photo by Amy Hall.  
Noah takes a break in the Sked (cave rescue stretcher). Photo by Amy Hall. 
Isaac and Noah are ready to explore. Photo by Amy Hall.
Left, Claire demonstrates fancy caving attire. Right, William shows that even a two year old can have fun with CaveSim. Photos by Amy Hall.


National Cave and Karst Management Symposium, Eureka Springs, AR, October 19-20, 2017

A huge thank-you to Chuck Bitting, Jim Goodbar (BLM), and Jim Kennedy for working with us to bring CaveSim to this excellent scientific conference.


> Hillside Montessori School, LaGrange, GA, October 17, 2017

A huge thanks to caver Rachel McArthur for working with us to set up this great program at her daughter Brooklyn's school.  Students in grades K-5 learned geology, cave rescue, safe caving, conservation, and more.


Left, Dave helps with helmets while answering questions about caves. Right, students practice teamwork with a cave rescue stretcher. Photos by Rachel McArthur.


Kids love exploring CaveSim, and are sometimes awestruck. Photos by Rachel McArthur.


CaveSim is about learning and having fun at the same time. Left, students learn speleology (the study of how caves form) and, right, some basic measurement skills with the squeezebox. Photos by Rachel McArthur.


Barnwell Elementary School, Johns Creek, GA, October 16, 2017

A big thanks to STEM Lab teacher Katie Stiers for helping us coordinate this event!  About 150 5th grade students participated in our three-station program (bats, squeezebox/sked, and CaveSim).  A big thanks to Gill Gilliland for helping with this program.


5th grade students have fun while learning all about caves, geology, chemistry, math, biology, and leadership.  Photos by Katie Stiers. 


>  Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta, GA, October 14, 2017, 10AM-5PM

Kids and adults loved CaveSim at this very popular free public event.  We did lots of carbide lamp demos, and had several hundred people explore the mobile cave.  A huge thanks to Gill and Scott for helping staff this event!
Visitors watch from a safe distance as Dave does a carbide lamp demonstration. Photo by Gill Gilliland.   

CoolScience Carnival, UCCS, Colorado Springs, CO, October 14, 2017, 10AM-4:30PM

What a great event!  We've been attending since 2011, and we're honored to participate again this year.  Since the trailer was on the East Coast, we had our vertical caving tower at the CoolScience Carnival, plus our squeezebox, carbide lamp demos, Skedco stretcher, and cave rescue phones.  A huge thanks to Jackson F, Dan S, Gabe W, Lydia G, and Hadley B for staffing this great event!


> Youngs Grove Elementary School 3rd Grade, Cedartown, GA, October 9, 2017, 8:15AM

A big thanks go teacher Lisa Saroka for working with us to bring CaveSim to northwest Georgia for 82 eager 3rd graders to explore!  Here's Lisa's article about the program.


Youngs Grove students explore CaveSim. Photos by Lisa Saroka.


TAG Fall Cave-In, Menlo, GA, October 6-8, 2017

CaveSim was extremely popular during our first trip to the TAG Fall Cave-In.  Cavers of all ages took roughly 400 trips through the mobile cave over a 2.5 day period.  We kept the cave open for about 32 hours, including consecutively from 9AM-1AM on Friday!  Check out the Cave-In on Facebook to learn more.


Aragon Elementary School, Colorado Springs, CO, October 2, 2017

The entire third grade at Aragon Elementary (about 80 students) had a blast exploring CaveSim, practicing cave rescue with a sked, role-playing bats, learning geology, tying knots, and watching carbide demos.

> eleSTEMary teacher training, Colorado Springs, 9/14/2017

We had a great turnout and lots of teacher enthusiasm at this evening event for public school teachers in the Pikes Peak Region.  Hey kids: did you know that teachers can explore CaveSim too?


Teachers geared up exploring CaveSim. Photos by Nancy Roberts.


Teachers learning about drapery formations (cave bacon) from Dave. Photos by Nancy Roberts.

8th annual What IF Festival, downtown Colorado Springs, 9/9/2017

CaveSim was a huge hit at this great free public event.


CaveSim is fun for kids of all ages. Father (left) and son (right) had a great time exploring together. Photos by Tracy Jackson


We teach more than just crawling. Left, learning about basic electronics with our cave rescue phones, and right Dave talks with a visitor while Mick helps a boy learn how to ascend using the Frog System. Photos by Tracy Jackson.


> Fox21 News covers CaveSim for 8th annual What IF Festival, 9/7/2017


Left, Dave hangs out during the interview. Right, Dave inside The Portal (life-size Skype) talking with a physician and a mathematician in Afghanistan.  Dave got to talk with the two men about caving, vertical caving gear, education, and a host of other subjects.  Photos by Blue Leaf von Muller.

Dave talks with Deborah Thornton of Imagination Celebration / What If Festival while harnessing up for the early-morning interview.  Photo by Blue Leaf von Muller.


> Front Range Conference, US Air Force Academy Falcon Club, 8/5/2017

We were honored to be invited back to present at this educator conference.  Dave presented to both Child Development Center (CDC) and School-Age Center staff, and taught them six hands-on STEM activities, all centered around caves.  Tracy presented two sessions on environmental education, including a subterranean critters class.  We already have new ideas for next year, so if you're an FSS staff person attending this conference, be sure to sign up for our sessions! 


> USAFA Youth Center field trip to CaveSim CityROCK, 8/2/2017

About 18 students from the Falcon Trail Youth Center at the US Air Force Academy came to the CaveSim installation at CityROCK Climbing Gym to get a taste of vertical caving (rappelling, ascending).  They also explored the CaveSim system under the climbing gym, which they loved.  The program was so popular that we're planning a week-long version for the spring.


> Old Fashioned 4th of July, Woodland Park, CO 7/4/2017, 9AM-3PM

This was our second year in a row at this great free event, and we had fantastic weather and a great turnout.  


> PG Retreat, Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO, 7/3/2017

We were honored to be invited back for a second year to this conference and retreat for Profoundly Gifted children and their families.  Our vertical caving tower was a big hit with kids and adults alike!


> Elizabeth's birthday party, 7/1/2017

Elizabeth and her dad Floyd have been incredible helpers with our CaveSim vertical caving camps, and we had a great time giving Elizabeth an incredible free birthday party at the CaveSim trailer.


> UNITE Pre-Collegiate Success Program, UCCS, 6/28/2017, 1-5PM

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 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, 6/27/2017

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!


> Aurora Public Schools COMPASS summer program, Fulton Academy of Excellence, Aurora, CO, 6/26/2017

It was a long drive from Albuquerque to Aurora, but we were thrilled to be able to bring CaveSim to the elementary school students in the COMPASS program.


> New Mexico Museum of Natural History And Science, Albuqurque, NM, 6/25/2017

The local TV station covered this great free public event.  We had excellent public turnout, and we had fantastic help from local cavers and from museum staff and volunteers. 


PEEC Nature Center free public event, Los Alamos, NM, 6/24/2017

We had several hundred people enjoy CaveSim at this free event.  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, June 19-23, 2017

Such a great 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, 6/10/2017, 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, 6/7-6/8/2017

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


> US Air Force Academy, Falcon Trail Youth Center, CO, 5/30/2017

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.


> Cresson Days, Cresson Elementary School, Cripple Creek, CO, 5/25/2017

We were honored to be invited back to Cresson Days for the fourth year in a row! What a great way for kids to spend the last day of the school year.


> Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Saturday, May 6, 2017, 9AM-6PM

Visitors loved this awesome free event at SMO!  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, May 1-5, 2017

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 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, 4/13/2017

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, 4/8/2017

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, 3/27-3/31/2017

We had strong turnout for 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, 3/16/2017

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, 3/9/2017

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, 3/7/2017

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, 1/21-1/22/2017

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.  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.  

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