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Students Explore Cave in Sumulator

   Fourth grade students at the Allen County Intermediate Center learned about caves and how to safety explore caves last week as part of a continuing educational partnership with the Mammoth Cave National Park.


   Each month, rangers from the National Park visit ACIC to present educational programs to students. This trip included a special visit from Colorado-based CaveSim. The cave simulator was made possible through funding provided by Friends of Mammoth Cave, a non-profit group which supports special projects for Mammoth Cave.


   “We hope to teach the kiddos about caving practices,” explained Jennifer Shackelford, an environmental education ranger from Mammoth Cave. “We know that there are a lot of caves on farms around here and we want to make sure the kids understand the proper safety precautions so that they will not go into a cave on their own. Also, we are teaching them about taking care of caves as well.”


   Students learned about crawl space by given the opportunity to crawl through a box that was set at different height levels. The box was a hands-on way to educate students about a basic rule of cave exploration---the importance to know how small of a space one can safety pass through. Students and teachers were given the chance to crawl through a space, a space decreased in size after students successfully achieved a height.


   However, the highlight was the simulated cave experience.


   “The cave simulator is like a video game in that, as they crawl through the simulator, they will get a score,” Shackelford explained “If they hit a stalactite or a stalagmite or any of the cave formations, points are detected. It’s an interactive cave simulator.”


   The cave simulator was introduced to the students by its creator, Dave Jackson, an electrical engineer graduate from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Jackson explained why the simulator is more than just an educational tool for students.


   “I was doing cave rescue training in 2008 and we were using a giant jungle of picnic tables that was supposed to represent a cave,” Jackson explained. “We had a person on a stretcher and we were threading them through the tables and around flagging. It was not a good situation. No one was learning anything. We also went underground to practice and we actually damaged the cave. I decided that I was going to take what I learned in engineering school and put it together with cave rescue training. Rescuers in training need practice in an environment that realistically simulates the challenges of rescuing someone from a cave before they go underground. Now we have had about 20,000 people go through. It’s both for education for kids and for cave rescuers to train.”


   The simulator also allowed students to watch on video monitors their classmates and teachers pass through the cave. Jackson also spoke with the students about rock formations inside the cave and about the importance of cave preservation. In addition, Jackson reminder the students of the importance of math and science as a foundation for learning and future endeavors.   

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Allen County Board of Education
570 Oliver Street, Scottsville, KY
Phone: (270) 618-3181
Fax: (270) 618-3185
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Allen County Schools
570 Oliver Street
Scottsville, KY

Call 270-618-3181
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