By Dave Jackson
Around the world, COVID-19 has forced educational institutions of all kinds to close their doors and conduct their programs online. Conservation organizations are no exception, and CaveSim is stepping up to meet this challenge by providing a variety of distance learning programs to schools and other partner organizations. In this presentation, CaveSim inventor and lead educator Dave Jackson discusses several types of online programs that CaveSim has created to help students continue learning about conservation during the present pandemic. Examples of both live online classes and recorded lessons are shown, along with interesting challenges associated with each type of program. This presentation shows how conservation education can be integrated with traditional school subjects to create a program that meets the needs of teachers and students, with the added benefit of inspiring students to care about cave conservation. Additionally, this presentation features video footage of in-person programs conducted just prior to the pandemic, providing an inside view of the conservation education work done by CaveSim. Presentation attendees will see a wholistic approach that brings together conservation concepts, STEM lessons, fun, and inspirational messages that encourage students to love learning and love caves.
Dave Jackson from Manitou Springs, Colorado, got his start in caving while studying electrical engineering at MIT. During a Colorado Cave Rescue Network training in 2008, Dave saw first-hand how damaging cave rescue can be to caves. This experience inspired him to invent CaveSim, an artificial cave system with electronic scoring that gives feedback to participants to help them improve their caving softly skills. The first iteration of CaveSim is mobile and is installed in a 24‑foot trailer. Dave and his team have built other versions of CaveSim, including a permanent installation in CityROCK Climbing Gym. Dave works full-time for CaveSim educating kids and adults around the country about cave conservation. CaveSim does programs for schools, museums, parks, show caves, and other organizations, with educational events in 17 states since 2010. Dave and his wife Tracy Jackson design all of the CaveSim lessons, which are aligned with state education standards to ensure that participants learn academic content in addition to conservation concepts. Dave and Tracy believe firmly in the importance of educating children about STEM and other school subjects, and in teaching children to value their education. With the onset of COVID-19, Dave has taken CaveSim programs online by producing both live and recorded lessons for children around the country. Learn more at www.cavesim.com.