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!
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.
This was our second year in a row at this great free event, and we had fantastic weather and a great turnout.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
We had a great turnout for this free public event, and we had fantastic help from local cavers and from museum staff and volunteers.
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.
Our awesome sponsors include:
USFS Southwestern Region
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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.