Like what we're doing?  Support CaveSim via our online gear store
Want to get cool CaveSim gear (artificial cave formations, t-shirts, parties, etc.)?  Want to support cave educational programs and conservation outreach?  You can do both right here: CaveSim Gear Store.

Upcoming events:

Kartchner Caverns Cave Fest 2/7 - 2/9/2014
Join us in Arizona at Kartchner Caverns for the annual Cave Fest. We'll be there with CaveSim on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A big thanks to Teresa and Chris for inviting us!

Join us in Washington, DC for this huge event!  We'll be hauling CaveSim out from Colorado.  Thanks to the National Speleological Society for their great support for this project.

News: 

Texas Cavers Reunion 10/19/2013
Texas cavers took 192 trips through CaveSim at this year's TCR.  Special thanks to Bill Steele for doing the fundraising for this event.  We really enjoyed TCR!  Thanks for having us.
Cavers wait to enter CaveSim at TCR  CaveSim was popular at TCR  
Left: Cavers about to enter CaveSim. RIght: Cavers of all ages went through CaveSim. Photos: Tracy Jackson

Special cave tours plus CaveSim at Cave of the Winds 10/6/2013
17 people participated in awesome special tours of Cave of the Winds led by Dave, Tracy, and other cavers.  Plus, they explored CaveSim. Trip information here.  Some of the proceeds will be used to help maintain and expand CaveSim.
BeforeTheCaveOfTheWindsSpecialTours
Participants of the special Cave of the Winds tours get ready to go on their muddy, crawling adventure to see parts of the cave that the general public does not generally visit.  Thanks to Cave of the Winds for letting us lead these trips.  Photo: Aaron, Cave of the Winds manager.

CoolScience Festival Day, UCCS 10/5/2013
For the fourth year in a row, CaveSim attended the CoolScience Festival Day at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS).  Hundreds of people stopped by for this FREE event.  Thanks to the Colorado Grotto for making yet another free CaveSim event possible.  More festival info here.
A boy emerging from CaveSim Boy and dad get ready to cave
Click each photo for a larger version. Photos by Tracy Jackson

CaveSim at Agilent Giving Campaign kick-off event 9/12/2013
I was very honored to be asked by Agilent to bring CaveSim to the company charitable giving campaign kick-off event.  By day, I'm an electrical engineer at Agilent, and it was really fun to share my project with all of my co-workers.  All proceeds from this event went to the giving campaign, which supports organizations like United Way.
CaveSim at Agilent
Dave talks with fellow engineers at Agilent, with CaveSim in the background. Photo: Matt Martin.

STEM ROCKS! event at Peterson Air Force Base 8/24/2013
Yet another free CaveSim event (made possible by the fuel donation of the Colorado Grotto)!  Hundreds of military families stopped by for a four-hour event to check out CaveSim and learn about caves and bats.

CaveSim receives full patent protection 8/20/2013
We received a letter from the US Patent and Trademark Office notifying us that CaveSim's patent application has been approved in full.  An exciting day!

Dav
Dave, tired but pleased, with the letter from the USPTO that indicates full patent issuance. Photo by Mark Phillips

Boy Scout Troop 287 meeting and court of honor 8/20/2013
Dozens of scouts and family members explored CaveSim at a troop meeting of BSA Troop 287 this evening. For many, this was a first exposure to caving, and the scouts learned about cave conservation, and the importance of safety and preparedness for high-adventure activities like caving.

National Speleological Society convention, Shippensburg, PA 8/5 - 8/9/2013
Highlights included:
 
- This great video by Dave Socky of Charles Kahn crawling through CaveSim:
Dave Socky's video
 
Over 200 people explored CaveSim for free at Convention this year.  That's about 1/3 of all registrants!
 
- We worked with 22 under-privileged high school students (and 7 college students) in the Upward Bound program for about 2.5 hours on Monday.  Most of the students had never been caving before, and they had a fantastic time exploring CaveSim.  They asked brilliant questions, and it was a great opportunity for us to teach the general public about cave conservation.  A big thank-you to Mary Sue Socky for helping us so much by teaching during this great event.
Upward Bound students
Dave gives a closing talk to Upward Bound students, telling them to pursue education in order to create things like CaveSim. Photo by Juli Jackson

- We worked with the JSS for 3 hours on Monday. In addition to exploring CaveSim, they experienced sinkholes with a hands-on activity, did patient packaging and transport with a real sked, played with real cave phones (field phones), played a bat migration game, and played a bat ecolocation game.
Sinkhole activity        JSSandSked
Dave leads sinkhole activity. Girl in blue eats some sugar!     Dave teaches patient packaging. Photos: Juli Jackson

- Quite a number of university students from right here on campus have stopped by during the last few days to explore CaveSim. We've had several football players explore caves for the first time, and it's a good thing their first trip was not in a real cave!
BeatriceInCaveSim
Beatrice (Dave's godsister) explores CaveSim.

- I brought 3 high school students with us from Colorado. These 3 students (Brian, Emily and Sierra) are all cavers back home, and they're learning about educating others about cave conservation. They've done a great job of teaching the younger participants.
Sierra and Emily (center) help JSS participants get geared up while Brian (seated) runs the computer and Dave (right) looks on. Photo by Juli Jackson

- The wife of a long-time NSS member experienced caving for the first time by exploring CaveSim. She told us CaveSim was the highlight of the convention for her, since she had never been caving before!
The woman above was thrilled to make her first caving trip in CaveSim.

- We've had quite a number of people compete in the speleolympics thus far. Our best scores so far are:
Women: 0 damage, 2mins, 41secs
Men: 1 damage, 2mins, 7secs
Youth: 0 damage, 2mins, 49secs
Field phone challenge
The field phone challenge involves running communications wire and military telephones through CaveSim. Photo: DJ


Philadelphia Grotto sponsors CaveSim 6/4/2013
Thanks to the Philly Grotto, we're now very close to our gas-money goal, and we'll be able to make it to the 2013 NSS Convention!

CaveSim at "Gotta Love Local" Fiesta in Colorado Springs 6/1/2013
Hundreds came to Mountain Mama Natural Foods (map here) on Saturday, June 1st between 10AM and 4PM to check out CaveSim for free! In addition to CaveSim, Joe Uveges played fantastic music and there were many vendors. The event was sponsored by Gotta Love It Market and Kitchen. Thanks to Leslie of Seeds Community Cafe for inviting us, and thanks to Gary Amarill for helping out a huge amount today.

Girl and field phone Second girl and field phone
Two friends learn about field phones after exploring CaveSim. Learn more here: http://fieldphone.blogspot.com/. Thanks to Jeff Polk for putting the phones on loan. Photos by Dave Jackson.

Cleveland Grotto and Central Ohio Grotto sponsor CaveSim 5/29/2013
The Cleveland Grotto and the Central Ohio Grotto have both decided to sponsor our trip to Convention.  A big thanks to all the members of both grottos!

Commander Cody Caving Club sponsors CaveSim 5/21/2013
The Commander Cody Caving Club, based in Delaware, is generously sponsoring CaveSim's trip to Convention.

Central Connecticut Grotto sponsors CaveSim 5/21/2013
The Central Connecticut Grotto voted today to sponsor CaveSim's trip to Convention. This really means a lot to us because CCG has spent a lot on other projects recently, and it's really an honor that they're also willing to support CaveSim. They recently supported cave conservation efforts, the new NSS headquarters, disaster relief in New York and rescue training via NCRC. An extra helping of thanks to CCG! A big thanks also to Danny Brass (editor of CCG's Underground Movement) for being so supportive of CaveSim. We are now 71% of the way to our gas-money goal for the trip to the 2013 NSS Convention.

Central New Jersey Grotto sponsors CaveSim 5/19/2013
A big thanks to the Central New Jersey Grotto for deciding to sponsor CaveSim's trip to Convention! Thus far, 11 grottos and other groups have decided to sponsor the trip.

CaveSim to build a cave at CityROCK Climbing Center 5/17/2013
We are very happy to announce that CityROCK Climbing Center has decided to work with us to build a cave in their climbing gym.  The cave system will have hundreds of feet of horizontal and vertical passage, and of course it will have CaveSim formations and electronics.  Construction will start soon.  Stay tuned!

Falcon Middle School 6th graders explore CaveSim 5/15/2013
Quote of the day: "This is the best science class I've had -- ever!"  150 6th graders explored CaveSim today at Falcon Middle School.  They're studying rocks and the rock cycle, and they learned all about speleogenesis (how caves form).  They also learned about cave rescue, and some even saw a TP-6N field telephone, used for in-cave communication during rescues (see http://fieldphone.blogspot.com/).  A big thanks to Jeff Polk for putting these phones on long-term loan.  Also, a big thanks to Margaret Browne (Falcon Middle School science teacher) for inviting us, and for helping so much during the day (helping with gear, providing lunch and helping to maintain order!)

Falcon teach
Falcon Middle School teachers David (math) and Margaret (science). Photo by Dave Jackson

Mountain Equipment Recyclers open house crawls with fun 5/11/2013
Several hundred people turned out for Mountain Equipment Recycler's spring open house today. Many of them enjoyed CaveSim. A big thanks to MER for inviting us to take part (and for donating several Petzl helmets!) Be sure to check out their store on Tejon St. for great used gear.

Brendan, Mike and Julie of MER.
Brendan, Mike and Julie Mazzola of MER. A SpeleoSoap bat hangs behind Mike. Photo: Dave Jackson

A huge thanks to Cave Conservancy Foundation and East Tennessee Grotto for their generous support of our project to bring CaveSim to the 2013 NSS Convention. Thanks to their generosity, we're now 60% of the way to our goal.

Pennsylvania Cave Conservancy sponsors CaveSim 5/7/2013
Thanks to the generosity of the Pennsylvania Cave Conservancy, we are now 42% of the way to our gas-money goal of $1400 for the trip to the 2013 NSS Convention in Shippensburg, PA.

BaltimoreMET, York, and Boston Grottos sponsor CaveSim 4/30/2013 - 5/2/2013
A huge thanks to the MET Grotto, York Grotto, Baltimore Grotto, and Boston Grotto for generously helping to sponsor CaveSim's trip to the 2013 NSS Convention.  If you're a member of one of these grottos, be sure to introduce yourself to Dave at Convention so that he can thank you in person!  We're now 36% of the way to our gas-money goal of $1400.

SWAYGO Gear sponsors CaveSim 4/25/2013
SWAYGO Gear has generously decided to be a sponsor of CaveSim.  SWAYGO makes great cave packs that are simple and very durable.  Their contribution will help us bring CaveSim to the 2013 NSS Convention for everyone to enjoy for free.  Scott McCrea, owner of SWAYGO, said "My daughter loved CaveSim last year [at the 2012 NSS Convention]."

National Cave Rescue Commission Orientation to Cave Rescue 4/13 - 4/14/2013
About 40 rescue personnel, fire fighters, EMTs and cavers learned about cave rescue, and participated in a mock rescue in a real cave this past weekend!  CaveSim took part in the NCRC Orientation to Cave Rescue by giving rescue trainees a great sense of what a real cave is like.  Two evacuation teams carried volunteer patients through CaveSim, as shown below.  Rescuers found that communication and patient safety can be difficult to manage in tight spaces filled with delicate formations.  Visit www.coloradocaverescue.org to learn more about cave rescue in Colorado. Photos by Steve Reames and Dave Jackson.
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN
NCRC/CCRN


Middle school students teach 4th graders about caves, bats, history 4/11/2013
We took CaveSim to the Manitou Elementary School today for the 4th graders. Today was the Day of Service for the middle school, so 15 middle school kids volunteered as guides and taught 75 4th graders all about caves. Everyone did an awesome job, and we had fun tying caves into what the 4th graders are studying (Colorado history) by talking about native peoples and their rock art and artifacts. It was so cool to see the middle school students each use their strengths (teaching, public speaking, computer skills, etc.)

37 teachers visit CaveSim and Cave of the Winds to learn cave ed. 4/6/2013
How much cave education can you fit in four hours?  A lot, as 37 teachers learned today at CaveSim and Cave of the Winds.  The teachers took special trips through CaveSim, did hands-on cave science activities at several stations with Tracy, and took custom cave tours at Cave of the Winds led by Dave and Tracy.  We did the program for the Peak Area Leadership in Science group, which lets teachers earn continuing education credit.  A huge thanks to them for including us in their program.

Highlights of the CaveSim portion of the program included cave survey work for a few teachers, along with searches by other teachers for archaeological artifacts and ecological evidence within CaveSim (thanks to Tracy for getting the terracotta jug).  In the process, the teachers learned about lampshade spiders, Golondrinas swallows, micro-habitats, corrosion residue, and a host of other speleological topics.

At Tracy's science stations, the teachers created miniature sinkholes.  They grew cave formations, and they worked at mineral identification.

After the CaveSim and science station work, we went to Cave of the Winds to explore a real cave on trips led by Dave and Tracy (thanks to Cave of the WInds for allowing us to be tour guides for the day!)  The teachers built on what they learned earlier by seeing real beaded helictites, corrosion residue, joint-controlled cave systems, shields, and more.  Some of the teachers even got to see lampshade spider webs.

If you're a teacher or if you're interested in our cave education programs, check out our new programs brochure.  We love using CaveSim to teach kids about a wide variety of subjects (almost every subject you can think of ties into CaveSim: science, technology, engineering, math, archaeology, history, geology, biology, ecology, chemistry, art, and even physical education).

Colorado Springs School (CSS) students visit CaveSim 2/27/2013
10 high school students from The Colorado Springs School came to visit CaveSim today.  The students are in a seminar course about rock art (petroglyphs, pictographs, etc.)  Their teachers decided that CaveSim would be a great way to introduce the students to the concept of exploring fragile environments.  Tracy added cave paintings to CaveSim specifically for this group, and Dave added sensors to the cave paintings to warn visitors when they get too close to the rock art.  As the students crawled through CaveSim, they toted their sketch books and learned that it can be difficult to sketch in small cave passage!  The students also learned about a host of other topics, including geology, history, cave safety, and biology (e.g. rock varnish and white nose syndrome).  The students did an excellent job, and we enjoyed working with them.
Pictograph
Tracy's cave painting. If you come up with a good story for this painting, tell us and we'll post it!

Middle school student learns electronics in CaveSim lab 1/9/2013
Ann
Anna came with her dad to visit the CaveSim mad scientist lab to learn about electronics for her school innovation project.  Before she had ever heard of CaveSim, she decided that her project would be to build a voice recording / playback device to help her remember to do things. When I heard about Anna's project from her dad, I invited them to the CaveSim lab to learn about electronics.  She explored CaveSim, which has voice modules (the modules say things like, "Please do not shine your light on the bat!")  The modules are the same ones that she could use for her project.  In the picture above, she is talking with me about the electronics of a voice module.  She is wearing a helmet because she enjoyed CaveSim so much that she didn't want to take the helmet off!  She learned about various electronic components, and about how they're like the plumbing in her house.  She also got to watch her voice make waves on the oscilloscope!

We enjoyed having Anna over because we believe in inspiring young people to follow their passion, whether that be electronics, science, art, or something else.  As we always tell kids, if you're willing to learn and work hard, you too can build cool things like CaveSim.

Thanks again to everyone who supports us -- you help us to teach kids like Anna to follow their dreams.

Anna's voice on the scope
Anna's voice being played back on the scope. Photos by Dave and Tracy.

US Air Force Academy Youth Center hosts CaveSim 12/20/2012
About 43 kids from the US Air Force Academy's Youth Center explored CaveSim today and learned all about bats and caves.  They even practiced cave rescue using the sked that was donated earlier this year by Nigel Dyson.

Almost done!
A boy exploring CaveSim. Kids kept asking to go through again!  Photo: Tracy Jackson

Kids thank Dick Blenz
Kids and staff thank Corporal Dick Blenz, a WWII veteran and caver who sponsored the CaveSim trip to USAFA.  Photo: Dave Jackson

Kids play with the sked
Kids learn about how difficult cave rescue is.  They're moving a sked (like a stretcher) that contains the weight of an adult man.  Photo: Tracy Jackson

Kids at USAFA
Kids gather with Kyla (USAFA staff) and Dave to thank Dick Blenz for sponsoring the CaveSim program.

First birthday party at CaveSim 11/10/2012
Happy 14th Birthday, Skyler!  Skyler and his friends joined us for the first CaveSim birthday party today, and they had an awesome time.  We donated a party to the Catamount Institute fundraising auction as a way of supporting Catamount's outdoor and environmental education programs.  Skyler's parents, Julie Francis and Howard Drossman (Catamount's founders), won the party by donating generously to Catamount.

Do you want a CaveSim birthday party?  Check out our party page!  Your party will help us continue our mission of doing cave education programs and conservation outreach.  And you'll have a blast!

CaveSim at Cave of the Winds 10/14/2012
A big thanks to Cave of the Winds for hosting CaveSim during the CoolScience week!

A caver exits CaveSim
The cousin of one of our backers emerges from CaveSim at Cave of the Winds.  Photo: Floyd Fernandez

Biggest day on record for CaveSim 
10/13/2012
Thanks to the generosity of our backers, we had a record day at the 2012 CoolScience Festival with over 320 kids (and some adults) exploring CaveSim.

The enclosed CaveSim trailer on a busy day
People gather around the CaveSim trailer at the CoolScience Festival.  Photo: Jay Alexander.

A boy's first caving trip
A boy avoids the cave bacon while exploring the deepest part of CaveSim.  This photo was taken by looking in one of our three emergency exits.  The black box to the right of the boy is a cave rescue cache like the ones located in many Colorado caves.  Photo: DeeAnn Rothstein, CoolScience.

Dave at the back of the trailer
Dave, at the back of the trailer.  Participants enter and exit at the front of the trailer.  Photo: DeeAnn Rothstein, CoolScience.

CoolScience Festival 2012 to host CaveSim 
8/11/2012
Explore CaveSim on October 13, 2012 at UCCS in Colorado Springs!  We'll be at the 2012 CoolScience Festival for the third year in a row, but with an even better cave!  The cave is longer this year, and has night-vision cameras for watching your friends crawl through.

CaveSim at 2011 CoolScience festival
Chris Rehorn crawls through CaveSim at the 2011 CoolScience Festival. Photo: CoolScience staff

Maiden voyage of CaveSim trailer was a great success 9/28/2012
75 kids had a blast crawling through CaveSim and learning about caves and bats at Gold Camp Elementary School in Colorado Springs today.  The 5th grade students are studying ecosystems, which fits perfectly with the CaveSim lessons; while visiting CaveSim and our activity stations, they learned that every ecosystem on the planet can contain caves.  They also learned about the importance of bats in the food chain.  The maiden voyage of CaveSim was made possible by many people.  Thanks to the 100 people who helped us purchase the trailer, and to Marty Grove for lending us is truck (again!), and to Tracy Jackson and Steve Roach for taking the day off to change the lives of 75 children.  Also, a big thanks to Jesse Rochette for helping to construct more cave passage inside the trailer, and to Rudy for his expert welding work.

Trailer and truck
The CaveSim trailer and Marty's truck after a hard day's work educating 5th grade children. Photo: Tracy Jackson

Installation of CaveSim into trailer progressing quickly 8/18/2012
How do you fit a cave into a trailer?  With a lot of careful design and hard work.  Dave has been working daily to put CaveSim into the new trailer to get ready for events in September, including the Flight For Life conference and a trip to Gold Camp Elementary School for 75 kids.  The six boxes that make up CaveSim used to be configured in an L shape, but the boxes get connected differently to fit in the trailer.  This means that Dave is building additional cave passage to connect the boxes together.  In the picture below, Dave reinforces some heavy-duty cribbing that elevates one of the boxes above another box.  When the additional passage is complete, CaveSim will be about 10' longer, and will include more climbing, with an alternate route for those who aren't ready to chimney up 4'.  The new passage allows CaveSim to be left in the trailer so that setup time is eliminated.  The original passage can still be removed from the trailer if needed for indoor events.

We have also been working hard to send out rewards to our Kickstarter backers.  If you haven't gotten your reward yet, don't worry, we're working on it.  Some of you haven't received your t-shirts yet due to printing errors at the shirt company.  These errors have been corrected and your shirts will ship soon.

One of our awesome Kickstarter backers asked, "How do I order more [CaveSim gear]?  I'm thinking of Christmas gifts that I can purchase in support of CaveSim."  Great!  Visit our online gear store to help us pay for all of the lumber that it takes to put CaveSim in the trailer.

Dave drilling    Working in tight spaces
Above left: Dave installs a giant mending plate to reinforce some cribbing in the new CaveSim trailer.  Dave makes many of the mending plates from scrap electronics enclosures.  This helps reduce the cost and environmental impact of the project.  Above right: Dave about to install a wall in the new passage in the trailer.  The old passage will continue to be used -- we're just adding to it.  Photos: Tracy Jackson.

Empty trailer
The trailer before any of the CaveSim pieces were installed.  We'll soon be able to post a picture of the finished product.  Photo: Greg Pring.

Dave drilling
Dave installs some screws in the new passage inside the trailer.  Photo: Dave Jackson

Rudy welding Rudy and the door
Rudy does some excellent welding work to build a door for the cave passage.  Photos: Dave Jackson

Dave leads cave education workshop at US Air Force Academy 8/11/2012
The Force Support Squadron of the US Air Force invited Dave to lead a workshop about cave education at their education conference.  Dave taught five cave-related activities and games during the 90 minute session.  The group was really fun to work with, and everyone seemed to enjoy the session. 

SpeleoSoap donates to make CaveSim smell like a real cave 7/8/2012
Debbie Moore and Rick Gordon of SpeleoSoap have generously donated a large number of their new car fresheners to make CaveSim smell like a real cave.  The car fresheners inside CaveSim were a big hit at MayaCon, where people were amazed when they smelled the fresheners.  Dave opened the back of CaveSim for photographers and special guests several times, and each time a wave of awesome cave smell would waft out.  One man said, "No way!" when Dave told him that we had cave scent inside.  When he smelled the freshener hanging on the entrance of CaveSim, he was totally convinced.

SpeleoSoap is now a proud sponsor of our free general public and caver-specific events.  To paraphrase Debbie Moore, SpeleoSoap wants to give back to the caving community by sponsoring CaveSim because cavers have been so supportive of SpeleoSoap over the years.  At CaveSim, we're really grateful that SpeleoSoap is supporting our cave education and conservation outreach initiative, and we hope that you will purchase amazing soaps and other products from SpeleoSoap.  You can shop for SpeleoSoap here, or visit their blog, or check out SpeleoSoap on Facebook.  Thanks!

Oh, and one more story: I spent so much time with CaveSim at MayaCon that when I went caving in Piercy's Mill on Friday I thought for an instant, "It smells like CaveSim in here" until I realized that it was the other way around. Totally true story.

The comm
A caver at MayaCon competes in the Communication Challenge by trying to string comm wire through CaveSim without touching the formations.  Note the black SpeleoSoap bat hanging between the entrance and exit.  Photo by Natalie Pheasant.

Central Connecticut Grotto newsletter features CaveSim July 2012
The Underground Movement, the Central Connecticut Grotto newsletter, featured great photos of CaveSim in their recent issue.  Click the excerpt below for a larger version, or view the full online edition.  A big thanks to Danny Brass for sharing his work with us.
The Underground Movement article on CaveSim
Click the image above for a larger version. Credit: Danny Brass

MayaCon a great success 7/4/2012
The 2012 NSS Convention ("MayaCon") was a great success.  Convention attendees took roughly 350 trips through CaveSim during our week in Lewisburg, WV.  CaveSim is now safely back in Colorado, and we're working on putting CaveSim permanently in a trailer.  Here's our scoreboard with the Speleolympic winners (none of the CaveSim world records were broken).  If you're a winner, contact us to claim your prize.  Click each image to enlarge it.

A crowd around CaveSim at MayaCon        Kids try the squeezebox
Left: Cavers gather around CaveSim waiting to explore it. Right: JSS kids try the Loyalhanna squeezebox. Photos by Natalie Pheasant.

Speleolympic winners
The final Speleolympic scores. Click to enlarge.

In case you had any doubts, CaveSim is great for people of all ages. We had a great time talking with this Airborne veteran at MayaCon, and he did really well crawling through CaveSim.
An experienced caver exits CaveSim

Here he is reviewing his score with Tracy and Carolyn Parsons:
An experienced caver reviews his score
Photos by Gill Gilliland

Sked donated to CaveSim 6/26/2012
A generous caver and fireman named Nigel Dyson donated a sked to CaveSim today!  We have been making great use of the sked already to teach young cavers about cave rescue.  We have a Rescue Randy (a 120 pound dummy on loan from Harold Chrimes and brought to us by Marion McConnell), and we have packaged Randy in the sked as part of the speleolympics.  We are excited to have the sked for future events to teach people about cave rescue.  Rick Speaect also donated to us today by buying the green rope in the picture below.  The rope enables the sked to be rigged for vertical hauling.
Rick instructs Dave
Rick Speaect instructs Dave in rigging the sked. Photo: Rick and Gaylene Speaect

Thanks for your help, Kickstarter backers! We met our goal
We ran a Kickstarter campaign to put CaveSim on the road in an enclosed trailer, and we had 100 backers (listed here) from around the world donate over $6000 to our project.  If you are a backer, thank you -- you made our project a success.  You'll receive your thank-you gift soon, if you asked for one.  If you weren't a backer, you can still participate in our epic adventure: visit us at MayaCon, June 25-29, 2012 or at CoolScience in Colorado Springs in October, 2012, or visit our online gear store - your purchase helps support cave education programs and conservation outreach for youth and adults.  Thanks!
Dick Blenz and Dave in front of CaveSim
Dave with Dick Blenz, who made two phenomenally generous donations to the CaveSim trailer project. Like Dave, Dick is an electrical engineer, and the two had a great time talking.  Dick has many incredible stories, is extremely nice, and would like to remind you, "Never step on a cable" and "Connectors are the weak point of any system." Fortunately, CaveSim has redundant connectors to eliminate single-point failures.  Photo: Gill Gilliland.

Scott sporting CaveSim shirt
Scott Hall sporting his new CaveSim t-shirt, which he received for backing CaveSim on Kickstarter.  Scott says, "The T-shirt came in and it's great!"  Photo: Scott and Amy Hall.

SpeleoOlympics 2012: CaveSim to be the main event
John Pearson and Jeff Bray, the organizers of the 2012 NSS Convention (MayaCon), have made CaveSim the main event for the SpeleoOlympics (aka Speleolympics) at the Convention.  Be sure to stop by to try to beat the current records in the women's, men's and youth categories, set by Larissa Phillips, Derek Bristol and Philip Weaver, respectively.  We also plan to have a squeezebox and a navigation challenge as part of the SpeleoOlympics.  Regardless of whether you compete or not, CaveSim will be free to all attendees at the Convention, which will be in Lewisburg, West Virginia (June 25-29).

The Colorado Springs School visits CaveSim 6/14/2012
33 students visited the CaveSim garage today to learn about caves and bats.  The students crawled through CaveSim, played Bat and Moth, enjoyed the Bat Migration Challenge, and checked out our new bat skeleton.  Quote of the day: Student: "This helmet has mud on it!" Dave: "That's real cave mud, which is just decomposed limestone.  It's the cleanest mud you'll ever see!"
Atlas student Amber exits the sqeeze        Atlas student Hailie in the crawlway
Amber (left) and Hailie (right) from Atlas Prep enjoy CaveSim during their REACH summer program. Photos: Kelsey, REACH staff.

Hailie plays Bat and Moth
Hailie, playing Bat And Moth, tries to tag other students (moths) using her echolocation. Photo: Kelsey, REACH

Quentin plays the bat
Quentin plays the part of a bat in the Bat Migration Challenge. The orange tape represents a bat armband (bats get banded for scientific research, just like birds).  Photo: Kelsey, REACH.

Larissa Phillips sets new women's world record for CaveSim 5/24/2012
A new women's world record for CaveSim was set today by Larissa Phillips of Colorado Springs.  Larissa's score was 0 damage in 1 minute, 20 seconds.  She set her record on her first trip through CaveSim ever, and she seemed really pleased and surprised to have done so well.  Larissa has limited caving experience, which makes her record even more impressive.  She is a climber who works at CityROCK Climbing Center, which is great climbing gym located in downtown Colorado Springs.   The previous record was 0 damage in 1 minute, 27 seconds held by Andrea Corlett of Alberta, Canada. 

Larissa Phillips of Colorado Springs, who set a new women's record for CaveSim.  Photo: Larissa Phillips

A sad story with a good moral
5/5/2012
Quick story: Tracy and I went caving today with some first-time cavers and we saw these incredibly beautiful cave formations (see picture below).  Then we saw some super-delicate formations that someone had vandalized by pressing mud spheres into the formations in at least 30 places (see attached picture again).  Because of the ignorance of some unknown person on a previous trip, at least hundreds of years of natural growth had been wiped out in minutes, with the formations never to be the same again.  I found this extremely sad, and I told our group that this is why I haul around a 1600 pound cave simulator to teach kids about caves.  Because people can only protect what they understand.

I thought that I would share this story as a reminder that we could use your help to put cave education and outreach programs on the road.  Even if you only want to give $1, you'll help us a lot by increasing the number of people who've pledged.  My standard joke is that everyone has at least $1 in change between the seats of their car.  Of course, if you can't find a dollar between your seats, you can always tell a friend to support our project.

Wrecked gypsum and pristine helictites
Click images to enlarge. Left: mud smeared on gypsum crystals. Right: a pristine helictite. Photos: Chris Rehorn


Students enjoy keynote speech at symposium 5/5/2012
Over 150 kids and adults attended the Catamount Institute Symposium today at Colorado College and learned about both caving and invention from Dave Jackson of CaveSim ("Dave from a Cave!")  The Symposium is like a science fair where 4th and 5th grade students present their projects about caves, bats, water and underground ecology.  Instead of just answering a scientific question, the students take community action to solve a cave-related problem.  Dave's talk emphasized the importance of using creativity to solve real-world problems, like Dave did with CaveSim.  Of course, the talk was also fun -- who doesn't want to hear stories about digging giant holes? 

Watch a high-energy talk by "nationally known caver and inventor... David Jackson": http://youtu.be/7_dQbg67KWk

One 5th grade student exclaimed, "This has been one of the best days of my life!"  The Catamount staff also had high praise: Darlene Jensen, Executive Director, commented that, "[Dave] Coming in full gear with such a wealth of information was incredible to all the students, young and old."

Dave talks with a student
Dave, in full caving gear, listens as a student describes their crawl-through cave, made of moving boxes & other recyclables. Photo: Chris Aaby, Catamount Institute

Manitou YES Club visits CaveSim 4/24/2012
You've probably already figured out that we work hard to teach kids and adults about cave conservation using CaveSim.  What does that look like?  Here's a photo of a Manitou Springs Elementary student during their field trip to the CaveSim garage today.  You can tell that the only thing on this student's mind is our lesson about why you shouldn't touch cave formations.  The amazing thing about CaveSim is that I've had kids come back a year after their first visit and recite back to me everything we taught them about cave conservation.  So, yes, they're really learning.
Concentrating while caving!
Photo: Erik Mattson

YES Club visits CaveSim 4/10/2012
Ms. Downey's YES Club from Taylor Elementary had a great time visiting CaveSim today.  They learned about safe caving, cave rescue, and about some formations that they hadn't heard of before.
Right: Students watch monitors and video feeds to see how well a classmate navigates CaveSim.
Left: A student having a great time in the popcorn crawl.
Photos by Katy Downey

CaveSim staff assist in a real cave rescue 4/7/2012 (posted 4/8/2012 on Kickstarter)

It's 3AM Eastern, and Dave, Tracy and Scott (Tracy's brother) just got back to Atlanta from participating as rescuers in a successful cave rescue in a cave in Alabama.  This was Dave and Tracy's first real rescue, and we were extremely well prepared by our CCRN (Colorado Cave Rescue Network) training.  Thanks, CCRN!  The Huntsville, Atlanta and other rescue teams did a great job.  Dave, Tracy and Scott were with the patient from almost first contact all the way to the ambulance, and we are glad that the patient was doing well when they arrived at the ambulance.

We look forward to bringing CaveSim to many future cave rescue training events.  If you've donated to us, thank you!  If you have yet to donate, here's one more reason to give.  Donate now!

Patient in a ferno
Dave and Tracy (in the yellow helmets) work with Eddie (Alabama SAR) to package the patient during the Tumbling Rock rescue. Photo: Jonathan McDole.

Canon City HS students use CaveSim for mock rescue 3/17/2012
Students from the Canon City High School Caving Club stopped by the CaveSim garage to experience their first mock cave rescue.  As they learned, cave rescue is extremely difficult (especially with uncooperative patients!) The students also went caving with Dave and other Williams Canyon trip leaders on a trip to Swirling Mist.  The students did an awesome job helping with digging and erosion control projects.
CCHS caving club in Swirling Mist cave
Club members pose inside Swirling Mist after a long day of caving. Photo by Ken Cline.

CaveSim staff lead Canon City HS students on caving trip 3/3/2012
Students from the Canon City High School Caving Club went caving with Dave, Tracy and other Williams Canyon trip leaders on a trip to Huccy's.  The students did an awesome job taking care of the cave and one another.
Tracy and CCHS club members in Huccy's
Tracy (left) and students from CCHS pose after enjoying the mudslide in the Buffalo Room. Photo: Ken Cline

Buena Vista Elementary YES Club visits CaveSim 3/21/2012
Students from Mr. Rochette's YES Club at Buena Vista Elementary School (in Colorado Springs) crawled through CaveSim today and learned more about caves and bats.  Quote of the day: "I just want to say, you're awesome for building this cave!"

Half way to West Virginia 12/5/2011
The National Speleological Foundation (NSF) has agreed to fund CaveSim's return transportation to Colorado from the 2012 NSS Convention, MayaCon.  Now all we need is help getting to convention is the first place.  The NSF was generous enough to fund half of this trip, bringing CaveSim to thousands of convention goers, community members, and teachers across the county.  Can you or your grotto help CaveSim with the rest?  Contact us.

NSS News article "CaveSim at the 2011 Convention"
11/8/2011
 
"Crowd digs cave simulator at science carnival" 10/16/2011
Both The Denver Post and The Colorado Springs Gazette newspapers dig CaveSim too!  Check out their fun, well-written articles: Gazette article online (full article), Denver Post article online (partial article), Denver Post article pdf (partial article).

CaveSim staff teach kids speleology in Cave of the Winds 10/16/2011
Cavers from CaveSim, Southern Colorado Mountain Grotto, and Catamount Institute gathered Sunday to provide special cave exploration tours at Cave of the Winds.  Highlights included vertical (SRT) demonstrations, hands-on cave survey work, bat surveys, and speleogenesis classes.  Everyone did a great job today and yesterday; special thanks to SoCoMoGro members Floyd, Patricia, Dan, LP, Mike, Donna, and Jonny.  Dave had a great time teaching speleology and speleogenesis (in the pictures below, Dave gets to play with acid).
Dave demonstrates acid on limestone 
Dave talks about corrosion residue (bacterial poop!)
Dave teaches about corrosion residue and demonstrates acid on limestone. Photos by Emerson Killion.

Over 1000 served 10/15/2011
CaveSim has now had over 1000 visitors in one year and eight months!  Thank you to all of our visitors.

245 people explore CaveSim at 2011 CoolScience Festival at UCCS 10/15/2011
We had a record number of visitors crawl through CaveSim today, including some repeat customers from the Colorado Springs festival last year who came to check out all that we've added.  People can't get enough of CaveSim!  
 
Click the images to enlarge them.
Kids learn about caves while waiting in line at UCCS. Kids peer into CaveSim
Kids learn about caves while waiting in line, and excitedly peer into CaveSim. Photos by Bruce Hutchison.
 
Wanted: Your photos of CaveSim for upcoming NSS News article 7/31/2011
If you have any photos of CaveSim that you're willing to have published in the Convention issue of the NSS News, please send them to jacksondmit@cavesim.com, along with your name and the names of anyone in the pictures that you can identify.  Deadline: September 15, 2011.  Thanks!

Unknown fan posts CaveSim pictures on Flickr...
... along with some really funny captions!

New 3D photos by Peter and Ann Bosted on our Photo Gallery page 8/11/2011
Thanks to Peter and Ann Bosted, we now have great 3D photos of CaveSim on our Photo Gallery page.  Below is a picture of Ann inspecting a big stal in CaveSim.
Ann Bosted and large stal
3D photo by Peter and Ann Bosted

CavingNews.com article about CaveSim 8/4/2011

CaveSim mentioned on Reddit 8/4/2011

Glenwood's Post Independent publishes article on Speleolympics 7/24/2011
Glenwood Springs' newspaper, the Post Independent, published a great front-page article on Friday about the Speleolympics and CaveSim.  Visit
the Post Independent site to read the article, or check out the pdf below:

GlenwoodPaperArticle

In addition, we heard some great comments from participants during the week.  Thanks to everyone who gave us feedback.  Check out some of the comments on our Testimonials page.

Also, we have some final numbers from the Convention.  We had 327 visits to CaveSim during the week with an average damage of 8.9 and an average time of 2:49.5.  Below is a plot of the data that we recorded (click to enlarge).

Histogram of caver "damage"
 

Announcing the Speleo Olympics winners for 2011 NSS Convention 7/21/2011
This year's speleo olympics included CaveSim as a new category.  Competition started on Monday morning and closed at 1PM today (Thursday).  Thanks to everyone who competed, and congratulations to our winners:
    Women's:     Andrea Corlett from Alberta, Canada with:   0 damage in 1 minute, 28 seconds
    Men's:          Derek Bristol from Colorado with:                0 damage in 1 minute, 37 seconds
    Youth:          Philip Weaver with:                                     0 damage in 0 minutes, 33 seconds

Andrea Corlett, 2011 Women's CaveSim Speleolympics champion
Andrea Corlett receiving prizes from Dave Jackson for being a Speleolympic champion. Photo: Andy Belski

Great turnout for CaveSim at 2011 NSS Convention 7/20/2011
Over 200 people have tried CaveSim in the first three days of the Convention.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by, including Peter and Ann Bosted who took 3D photos of the CaveSim formations.  Some CaveSim formations are based on Peter and Ann's pictures.  Check out the picture of Peter and Ann photographing CaveSim on our Photo Gallery page.  We hope to post their 3D CaveSim pictures soon.  They are world-renowned for their pioneering work in 3D cave photography, and they have an awesome website.

Our best youth score so far is 0 damage in 33 seconds, and our best adult score is 0 damage in 1 minute, 45 seconds.  Speleo Olympics awards for CaveSim will be announced after the other Speleo Olympic events, which are on Thursday.  There's still time to compete - stop by the gym at the Glenwood Springs High School.

NSS News article: CaveSim to participate in 2011 NSS Convention 6/16/2011
The June issue of the NSS News features an article about the upcoming 2011 NSS Convention, including a writeup about CaveSim, which will be part of the Speleo-Olympics.

CaveSim joins Pikes Peak Sustainable Business Network 5/9/2011
Here at CaveSim, we turn discarded electronics into sensors for amazing caves.  We also use discarded latex paint and we reduce, reuse, and recycle wherever we can.  We're always interested in learning new techniques for being nice to the planet as we build caves, so we joined the Pikes Peak Sustainable Business Network (PPSBN, part of the Catamount Institute).  Look for us at PPSBN events!
 
Photo gallery updated 5/6/2011
We've added more photos to the photo gallery page, including pictures of kids and rescuers crawling through.
 
CaveSim featured in Pikes Peak Bulletin  5/5/2011
Tracy's excellent article about CaveSim was published in the Pikes Peak Bulletin.

Now on Facebook and Twitter 5/5/2011
We never rest!  Follow us.
 
A facelift for CaveSim
We've added a new entrance to CaveSim. You can see it in the photo gallery.  Built to look like real rock, the entrance communicates with the CaveSim computer to automatically start recording when you crawl through, and automatically stop recording once you're completely out. It even talks to you when you start and finish.

CaveSim to participate in 2011 NSS Convention
CaveSim will be bringing The Cave to Glenwood Springs, Colorado for the 2011 National Speleological Society Convention, July 18-22.  We'll have several new sections, more challenging than ever, along with a bunch of new formations.  We're excited that CaveSim will be one of the obstacle courses in the Speleo Olympics for the first time.  We'll be posting more detail soon - visit this page again soon for updates.  The convention website is http://nss2011.com/.
 
New Web Page for CaveSim
We hope you enjoy the new site.  Our OLD website is still available at  http://cavesbydave.blogspot.com/
 
CaveSim participates in Cool Science Festival 2010
On September 18, 2010, CaveSim's excellent volunteers helped set up The Cave at the Colorado Springs Cool Science Festival at UCCS.  We had an amazing turnout - a record 218 people enjoyed The Cave over the course of seven hours, and it was all our volunteers could do to keep up with demand.  We presented new interactive educational materials focused on cave and bat science, cave safety and conservation, and other cave trivia.  Thanks to Cool Science for hosting the event! 

Cave simulator now patent pending

We are happy to report successful application to the USPTO for a cave simulator patent -- the USPTO has accepted the filing, and The Cave is now patent pending.  If you are interested in purchasing a custom-built cave, contact Dave at jacksondmit@cavesim.comThanks for your interest!

Colorado Cave Rescue Network Seminar

Cavers and emergency response personnel had an extra challenge in this year's Colorado Cave Rescue Network (CCRN) Seminar on April 10, 2010.  Three groups (about 40 people total) used careful planning and good communication to navigate the wired corridors of The Cave with their "patient" in a sked.  For more information on this and future CCRN seminars, visit http://www.coloradocaves.org/?p=308.

Thank you to everyone who tried The Cave at the CCRN training, and to the CCRN organizers, including Marty Reames.  We really appreciate all of the positive things that we heard from you, including the following:
Unidentified participant, talking about The Cave: "This is cool!"
Participant, caver, and geologist Jerry Elliott: "No, this is truly excellent."

Catamount Institute Student Research Symposium at Colorado College

We had a great time taking The Cave to the Catamount Institute's Student Research Symposium at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO on April 21, 2010.  This was a free event, open to the public, from 9am-2pm.  Kids and adults enjoyed The Cave (an electronic cave that you can crawl through) and other hands-on nature and science exhibits, student projects, and workshops.  For more information on the Symposium go to http://www.ppsbn.org./  We had 113 kids crawl through The Cave, thanks to our great team of volunteers.  The kids crawled through in an average of 43 seconds, and damaged an average of 2.19 formations with 19 formations in The Cave (we'll be adding more formations soon to make The Cave more challenging).  In addition to crawling through The Cave, the kids learned about bats by playing the Bat Migration game, and about how to avoid hurting a cave or yourself while going caving.  Thanks to everyone who participated!