We're very grateful to all of the grottos, individuals, and other groups that are sponsoring our trip to Cookeville, TN this year for the national caving convention.
This afterschool enrichment program has been a big hit with the 19 students who are participating. The kids are in 2nd - 5th grade, and have been enjoying our hands-on STEM labs, as well as our regular program. A big thank-you to CaveSim staff member Jackson Fulcher and CaveSim volunteers Christine, Todd, Nicole, and Christa for helping make this program a big success.
We celebrated Bat Appreciation Day a few days early with this great event at Cave of the Winds. Members of several grottos (caving clubs) came to staff booths and activities about bat conservation. We brought CaveSim, which was popular with visitors of all ages.
Above, Dave works with participants on the CaveSim vertical caving tower as they learn about pulleys, simple machines, mechanical advantage, and other physics concepts (left), and Dave helps participants get geared up with knee pads and helmets to explore CaveSim (right). Photos by Mike and Donna Frazier.
Above, Dave by the CaveSim trailer just before visitors arrived. The fun hand-painted sign was by Christine, who did a great job of organizing the event. Photo by Mike Frazier.
A big thank-you to 5th grade teacher Becki Cummins for writing the grant to bring CaveSim back to Avery Parsons for a second year. We worked with about 75 5th grade students for this full day program, which included several labs as well as all of our outdoor activities (CaveSim trailer, vertical caving tower, etc.) A big thanks also to our friend Carole Perrin for allowing us to stay with her.
We put on a wonderful after-school program in partnership with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife SOLE program. We worked with close to 200 students and family members during the two hour program, and had great help from Dan Sullivan in staffing the vertical caving tower.
Check out these great photos by Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff:
Above, finishing a fun trip through CaveSim. Below, having a blast on the CaveSim tower while learning the physics of simple machines.
Above, fun in the CaveSim squeezebox (with some good lessons about fractions). Below, Dave does a carbide lamp demo with a working acetylene light, while teaching chemistry concepts and vocabulary (like "exothermic reaction.")
Have we mentioned that we're passionate educators? Dave teaches students that they, like him, can take what they learn in school and combine it with their passions to do something amazing.
There's certainly benefit to working with smaller groups. We worked with just 55 students during this program, but these 5th graders got to do so many different activities, including our karst topography lab, and geology demos (below).
Above, students watch a rock dissolution demo. Photo by Vivian Loftin.
Above, students play with cave rescue phones as part of a lesson about basic electronics. Photo by Vivian Loftin.
On the evening of February 28th, we hurried over from McCallum High School to Wooldridge Elementary for an evening family science night, which kids loved. We also worked with roughly 250 students in 1st-4th grade on March 1st, and we had amazing help from several Austin park rangers and from Vivian Loftin.
Here are some teacher quotes about the program, gathered by Melody Alcazar (Cities Connecting Children to Nature):
The survey also found that 10 out of 10 teachers said "Yes" when asked, "Would you like your students to participate if the CaveSim is brought back next year?" These teachers rated the CaveSim experience a 9.5 out of 10.
We worked with over 1,100 students over the course of this four day program, and students learned about a wide variety of subjects, from conservation of mass/energy with carbide lamp demos to electromagnetism with cave rescue phone demos. We had great help from Robin Gary and Jackie Vay of the Edwards Aquifer Barton Springs Conservation District, as well as from Denise and Mimi.
High school students get hands-on physics lessons with help from CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks. Photo by Edward Johnson, MacJournalism, McCallum HS.
We had a great turnout for this free public event, which officially ran from 10AM-3PM (although we ran from 9:45 to 3:30 to accommodate the strong turnout). A big thank you to Alf Hawkins for sharing his photos:
This wonderful program was put on with fantastic help from several Austin park rangers.
Above, Dave teaches students about cave chemistry while they wait to explore CaveSim. Below, CaveSim staffer Mary Hicks helps students learn about pulleys, mechanical advantage, friction, and other physics concepts on the 12' CaveSim A-Frame. Photos by Melody Alcazar, Cities Connecting Children to Nature.
Above, students try the CaveSim squeezebox with help from an Austin Park Ranger. The park rangers did a great job of helping us staff this fun program. Below, students practice teamwork and communication skills with the cave rescue stretcher (Sked). Photos by Melody Alcazar, Cities Connecting Children to Nature.
This was a great program for 3rd-5th graders, with awesome help from Dylan and Lindsey, as well as CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks.
This was a wonderful program for all of the 2nd graders at Hill.
Dave was honored to be invited by Geary Schindel to be the guest speaker at an installment of the Edwards Aquifer Brown Bag Lunch series. In addition to presenting about CaveSim's educational activities, Dave and CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks brought CaveSim to the Edwards Aquifer Authority for staff and visitors to explore. Despite the rain, we had about twenty folks explore the cave during their lunch break. A big thank-you to Alf Hawkins for taking the pictures below and allowing us to share them with you!
What an awesome turnout we had for this two-day event! We had wonderful help from volunteers Jon Cradit and Frances Ruby, as well as from CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks.
Above, San Antonio caver Bennett Lee is all smiles as he explores CaveSim for the first time, and some siblings have fun learning about vertical caving on the 12' CaveSim tower. Photos by Frances Ruby.
Below, a zoomed-in picture of our new, comfy, and very safe Bosun's chair (which is also much easier to put on than a traditional harness).
We were so excited to be invited back to this awesome school! We had wonderful help from CaveSim staff member Mary Hicks and volunteer Patty Calabrese.
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