Cool Caves

Hunter and Caleb added a creative challenge for visitors of their “cool cave” at Open House last evening.

Can you find the hockey puck?

What, you might ask, is a hockey puck doing in a cave? According to the story of the boys’ “Street Cave”…

One day, two boys named Charlie and Jake were playing street hockey. Jake took a slap shot. It ricocheted off the goal post, then slid on their mom’s windshield and fell in a crack.”

The story goes on to describe the boys’ adventure as they fall through the crack into a cave. Despite their best efforts, they never found the hockey puck. Thus, the challenge to visitors to find it for them.

Hunter lifted the cardboard cover to reveal an entrance to the cave. In addition to a hidden hockey puck, the cave contained the usual formations, plus some fossils and cave dwelling creatures, like a giant spider.

“Some cave animals are used to being in complete darkness,” Hunter explained. “They can’t see so it’s hard to find food.” The animals develop other senses to compensate, he said, such as bats and their use of echo-location. A small white insect called a springtail has no access to food in a cave, so it has adapted to feed off hair cells, such as hairs that drop from people or animals that venture into the cave.

Jackson’s “Minnesota Cave” features “lots of formations, like draperies and cave bacon,” he said. “The formations are made of calcite mixed with water. Carbonic acid makes the cavern.”

Draperies are formations that develop along cave walls and either hang down (like drapes over a window), or spread across the wall. He described how stalagtites and stalagmites grow toward each other and eventually become one. “Over years, they become a column,” he said.

His cave also includes soda straws – “really skinny and hollow” – and a “bathtub, which is a cave formation with water in it.”

Sylvia and two other classmates created a massive cave structure by combining three individual caves. They distinguished their individual cave sections from the outside with personalized cave drawings.

“When people didn’t have paper, they used to write on cave walls,” she explained. “They wrote the things they love, so that’s what we did.”

Sylvia pointed to the crinkled brown paper covered in colorful symbols on the side of her box cave. The objects she loves most are colorfully documented. “Dolphins, cats, dogs, water – well, swimming mostly – presents, TV,” she said.

You know, the types of things that ancient cave-dwellers would have drawn, like televisions, I teased. Sylvia laughed. “Yeah, like TV!”

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