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2018 News:   

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.


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.

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


Despite rain, the 7th grade had a great time learning about caves, groundwater, and biology.  This event was made possible by a fantastic partnership with the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Authority.


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.



Above left, boys get ready to enter CaveSim.  Above right, two brothers and their dad get first-hand experience with pulleys and mechanical advantage on the CaveSim tower.  Photos by City of Austin staff.


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.

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).


We're honored to have partnered with Glenwood Caverns to have CaveSim represented at this great event for show cave owners and staff.


What a great free public program!  Thanks to our great volunteers, including Darren Kelley, Craig Yoder, and Cara and John Green and their kids.


Photos by Tracy Jackson.

At 5:30AM, Dave did the following live interview on KOAA News5:


Roughly 300 people (including 60 3rd graders) enjoyed our programs at Cumberland Gap NHP, and several families had so much fun that they came back a second day.  We had fantastic help from a great group of local cavers, including Cheryl Pratt, Stuart Daw, Darin Baird, and Dr. Terri Brown.  Additional thanks to Michael Gundlach for coming all the way from Georgia to help staff this program. 


Huge thanks to Jennifer Shackelford of the Mammoth Cave Environmental Education department for organizing these programs, and for providing staffing to help us teach about 580 students in two days!  We worked with 330 7th grade students on Tuesday, and 250 4th graders on Wednesday.  Long-time CaveSim supporter and friend Michael Gundlach also helped with the programs, and came all the way from Georgia to do so!

The photos below are by the Allen County Schools PR staff.

Dave teaches 4th grade students about helictites (above) and gypsum (below).

Below, Michael Gundlach introduces students to the many CaveSim activities they will experience, including the squeezebox on which he's standing.

Below, Dave helps students adjust their helmets in preparation for exploring CaveSim.

Below, a student with an especially good answer gets a high five from Dave during a lesson on speleology (how caves form)

Below, Ranger Jim holds down the lid of the squeezebox while CaveSim staffer Michael Gundlach helps a student measure the opening of the box.


What an amazing turnout we had this year at Convention!  Lots of local folks enjoyed our free public events, as featured in this TV segment from KTVH:

On Thursday of Convention week, we spent all morning with a great group of kids enrolled in an Inventions camp at the local museum, ExplorationWorks.  Museum staff member Connor Hague took the great pictures below.


On Monday and Tuesday, we worked with a different set of summer camp participants.  These elementary school students were participating in a science camp being held at the Convention site (Capital High School).  Each group of campers spent several hours with us.

Above, a mixed group of camp participants and young cavers learns about pulleys and mechanical advantage on the 12 foot CaveSim tower. Photo by Jessica Gordon.

Above, a group of summer camp students learns about CaveSim from Dave prior to donning helmets to explore the system. Photo by Nancy Aulenbach.

Above, a student prepares to take a ride in the CaveSim Sked while other students receive instructions from Dave. Photo by Nancy Aulenbach.


On Tuesday, Dave presented at the Conservation Tuesday session.  After the session, attendees came out to learn first-hand about our conservation lessons.

Above, Dave presents during the Conservation Tuesday talks. Below, Convention attendees gather by the trailer to learn about the conservation education work that we're doing with CaveSim. Photos by Jessica Gordon.

A special thanks to our volunteers!  During Convention week, we had amazing help from Nancy and Brent Aulenbach, Foz Trautner, Jeff Gobin, Barb Smith, Aimee Beveridge, Ken Newton, Kathy Keeler, Beth Cortright, Red Schrock, Charles Kahn, Kate Bach, Andrea Croskrey, Van, Sierra Hiemel, Gabe Wright, and many others.  

A huge thank you to all of our awesome sponsors:

 Barb Bentzin and Bob Montgomery with  








Above, participants finish exploring CaveSim, and have fun learning about pulleys and mechanical advantage from Gabe Wright. Photos by Ravalli County Museum staff.

We had such a great time bringing CaveSim to this great museum, and we are so excited that we were able to work alongside Mike McEachern and his wife, who have created the incredible Illuminating Darkness exhibit (shown in Mike's pictures below).




We're so excited to have participated in this great celebration for the 3rd year in a row!  We had great help from Jackson, Mara, and Monica, and we had a fantastic turnout.


We are so honored to have been invited back to this event for the third year in a row.  We didn't bring the CaveSim mobile cave, but we had our vertical caving tower and we did three fantastic lab programs, including cave biology, electronics, mechanical systems, and chemistry.  We had great help from Jackson, Mara, and Monica.


We've been participating in this event since 2015, and we were so excited to bring CaveSim to Mueller again!  We had great turnout and were busy all day.  A special thanks to our friend Gary Ammarell for volunteering with us today (on his wife's birthday, even!)



We are so honored that the US Forest Service invited us back to this event for the second year in a row.  We had an amazing crew, including Rick, Gaylene, June, Dave G., and Chris C.  We worked with several hundred visitors as they enjoyed the mobile cave system, our vertical caving tower, squeezebox, and lots of other free, educational activities.


Above left, Rick Speaect teaches a family about pulleys and mechanical advantage on the 12' CaveSim A-frame.  Above right, Dave Gnuse and Gaylene Speaect work with a participant as she prepares to enter CaveSim.  Photos by Randall Taylor / US Forest Service.

Above, Chris Carter (L) and Dave Jackson (R) stand by CaveSim's cool table of incredible cave stuff, including carbide lamps and artificial formations. Photo by Randall Taylor / US Forest Service.

Rick Speaect outfitted for vertical caving in his Frog System. Photo by Randall Taylor / US Forest Service.


What an awesome event, and a great way for us to return to our roots!  Dave invented CaveSim after a cave rescue training at Glenwood Caverns, and it was great to re-connect with old friends and meet new folks.  We had great turn-out and wonderful weather.  A huge thank you to Ken Newton, Kathy Keeler, and Cole Newton for helping to make this event such a success, and to Kathy Miller for organizing the event.


Above, participants learn about bat biology and speleogenesis (how caves form) from CaveSim inventor and owner Dave Jackson. Photo by Chelsea Self / Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Above, two participants explore deep inside the CaveSim system. Photo by Chelsea Self / Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Above, a participant pull herself to the top of the CaveSim ascending A-frame with a little help from Dave and a lot of help from the 5:1 pulley system. Photo by Kathy Miller / Glenwood Caverns.

Above, participants get ready to lift the Skedco cave rescue stretcher with instruction from Dave. Photo by Kathy Miller / Glenwood Caverns.


We were so honored to bring CaveSim to Cresson for the fifth consecutive year.


We had a great time working with this fantastic school for the first time.  We worked with about 155 students in grades pre-K through 6, and had phenomenal help from Patricia Malone.  A big thank-you to teacher Miles Groth for working with us to organize this program, and for taking all of the photos below.

Personal challenge, teamwork, & learning are all hallmarks of kids' experiences with the CaveSim vertical caving tower.

The cave rescue stretcher is another great team-building activity. Today, CaveSim facilitator Patricia Malone (in the blue shirt at the back) led this lesson.

In the foreground, students play a bat echolocation game, while students in the background learn about pulleys on the vertical caving tower.

The mobile CaveSim system is always really popular, even with the youngest students. Cascade, CO is a wonderfully picturesque place for a program, and we enjoyed the smell of juniper the whole day!


CaveSim is not just for little kids! Ute Pass Elementary includes 6th grade, and the older students had a great time exploring and competing for the best CaveSim score.

Even teachers enjoy participating in CaveSim programs. Here, students work hard to lift a teacher on the CaveSim tower. Of course, they're working only about one fifth as hard as they would work without the 5:1 pulley system. Hooray for physics! 


Video by Kristen Sherwood.


Bringing CaveSim to Good Shepherd for 87 sixth and seventh grade students was great fun, and we're so glad that teacher Annette Humphrey worked with us to organize this great program!  We had fantastic help from Jackson Fulcher, Patricia Malone, and Monica and Mara Backsen.  Mara is an 8th grade student who did an awesome job teaching the younger students about bats and epidemiology with our new White Nose Syndrome lab.

Students have fun learning about echolocation and bats.  All photos from this program by Monica Backsen.

8th grade student Mara Backsen teaches the 6th and 7th graders about bats and gives instructions for the epidemiology lab.

Students having fun learning about White Nose Syndrome and epidemiology.

Students show the results of their White Nose Syndrome lab with a giant graph.


This two-day program for Environmental Engineering students included exploration of CaveSim as well as THREE of our fantastic STEM labs.  We are honored to be invited back to Carson Middle for the second year.  We worked with about 100 students over the course of 2 days, which allowed us to do so many of our really cool labs.

Thanks to everyone who helped, including Antoinette, Jackson, Christine, Todd, and Troy.


Middle school teacher Hannah Bell and her husband Chris pose for some photos at the CaveSim entrance. Photos by Jackson Fulcher.


We were so glad to be able to do this program on just a few days notice!  Working with the staff of this after-school program is always a pleasure, and this 2nd-5th grade students were great to work with.  They explored the trailer, enjoyed the squeezebox and Sked, played several bat games, and got to see carbide lamp demonstrations.


Silly faces at the end of a great program in Aurora (photo by Sam Welvaert)

Fun with the squeezebox (photo by Sam Welvaert)


About 170 7th grade students had a great time exploring CaveSim and doing our cave biology lab, which includes culturing live microorganisms in Petri dishes.  Students also learned about the spread of White Nose Syndrome with a new hands-on game that we've developed.  The kids also learned about pulleys and mechanical advantage on our ascending tower, about teamwork with our cave rescue stretcher and squeezebox, and about bats with several fun and educational games.  A big thanks to teacher Shelby Ratzlaff for working with us to coordinate this program, and to Patricia Malone for volunteering with us.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


During this great program, we taught 14 middle school students 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.


This was an amazing 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.


This was a fun, completely free caving trip with a group of highly-capable high school students.  Kudos to Cole Paris, who is the outdoor leadership teacher at The University School.  A big thanks to trip leader Todd Warren for co-leading this great trip!




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.


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.


Our partnership with Catamount Institute is as strong as ever, and we are excited that we got to do this free program for this great environmental education non-profit.


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.


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.  


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.


Thanks to Tracy Jackson for helping with this fun program! 


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 for being the patient, and for co-teaching with me.


> CSFD Heavy Rescue training in CaveSim at CityROCK, January 14, 2018, 9AM-1PM


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