Young’s Grove Elementary took interactive learning to the next level by hosting a cave simulation that let students learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts first hand while also having fun exploring a highly realistic, artificial cave.

Invented by caver and MIT engineer Dave Jackson, CaveSim is a mix of cave art and engineering that provides safe, secure passage for trainees and explorers alike.

Interactive electronic cave formations, fauna, and artifacts taught kids about conservation by counting how many formations they would have disturbed while exploring in a real cave.

“The mobile version of CaveSim features 60 feet of ‘passage’ to explore,” Jackson said. “Each formation in a CaveSim is electronically sensed to count the number of times it gets hit by cavers. This information is saved in a central computer, and cavers can compare their scores and times.”

Being a careful caver is important because various animals have homes in caves, and cave formations can easily fall and became dangerous if disturbed.

One wrong step can take a caver from rescuer to rescued, and a single bad step can unleash a swarm of scared, angry bats. CaveSim teaches students how to avoid these undesired scenarios in a safe, risk free manner.

“The third graders learned about rock formations, how to be a responsible caver, animals that make caves their homes and cave drawings,” teacher Lisa Saroka said. “Students were able to vie for ‘most careful caver’ while learning and having fun.”

Aside from conservation and STEM topics, the third graders underwent a scenario where they worked as a team to “rescue” an injured worker.

Rescue training was a big factor in CaveSim’s creation, and teamwork and rescue are desired skills for any potential caver.

“Rescuers in training need practice in an environment that realistically simulates the challenge of rescuing someone from a cave before they go underground,” Jackson said.

Interactive learning is one of the most powerful ways for students to learn, and since the students had fun, they are likely to remember their cave exploring for years to come.

For more information on CaveSim visit their website at cavesim.com.