C.A.V.E.S. is a self-guided tour for upper elementary school groups or scout groups. Five stations based on the significant features of RUCA will be visited by small groups. Each group will visit the following stations: Caves, Archeology, Vascular Plants, Ecosystem, and Skins & Skulls. During these stations, each small group leader will be issued a tablet. Using the tablet, students will listen to a podcast for an introduction and instructions for station. Additional pictures will be available for groups that complete their station early.
Tablet (5) Podcast on tablet work station activity packet (1 for each student)
C.A.V.E.S. is designed for teachers, scout leaders, and others who are bringing groups of children to Russell Cave National Monument. The program has three components:
Lessons and materials to be used before visiting Russell Cave
A five part workstation package for use on site.
For review, a pair of exercises to be completed after returning as a group.
Groups and individuals planning visits to Russell Cave National Monument will need to know the following general information:
Russell Cave is managed by the National Park Service
All plants and animals on NPS property are protected by law. This means that visitors to Russell Cave are encouraged to observe, study, and appreciate, but picking, collecting, or otherwise disturbing live plants and animals are forbidden.
Do not run and do not collect nature specimens.
Pre-site Whole Group Optional Activities
Alabama History Lesson about Russell Cave from school's adopted textbook
THE ACTIVITIES Five activities make up the field trip program. Each workstation will be initiated using a podcast. To promote learning and discipline, we recommend dividing a group into five sub groups as follows:
C- Carnivorous Cave Dwellers
A- Awesome Archeologists
V- Victorious Vasculars
E- Extraordinary Ecologist
S- Sensational Survivors
Each subgroup will be issued a tablet to use during each workstation. The five subgroups can complete the activities consecutively, in a round robin format. Each begins with one workstation and progresses to the next in the sequence until all six activities have been completed. The length of time devoted to each workstation is determined by the teacher. We recommend that a minimum of 15 minutes (more if available) be allowed for each, with a two minute changed over time between activities. The overall group leader will notify each subgroup leader when two minutes remain in the workstation, as well as when the work station ends.
CAVE GEOLOGY (inside cave shelter) Inside the cave shelter, students gather around leader to listen to the introduction podcast. Encourage children to observe, study, and visualize the characteristics of the cave shelter and inside of the cave. Allow time for exploration and discussion after the podcast.
ARCHAEOLOGY (in Visitor Center) Before entering the museum, play the podcast to introduce the setup of the museum. (Students will view the exhibits beginning with "The Archaeologist's Dream" and continue clockwise to the outer exhibits. Encourage students to also view the timeline in the center of the museum.) Allow children time to explore and learn about the excavation of the cave shelter. When the subgroup has viewed the museum's exhibits, students may complete the activity sheet regarding the information in the museum.
VASCULAR (around the sink hole) Upon entering the sinkhole area, remind students that all plants and animals on NPS property are protected by law. This means that visitors to Russell Cave are encouraged to observe, study, and appreciate, but picking, collecting, or otherwise disturbing live plants and animals are forbidden. Have students stand near the sink hole while playing the podcast to introduce area. Allow children time to study and discuss the plants in the area. Using the activity sheet, students may work with peers to locate and identify plant life around the sinkhole. After all plants have been located, play the second podcast to learn how prehistoric people used these plants.
ECOSYSTEM (on the boardwalk) After leaving the sink hole area (on the boardwalk), the group leader should encourage students to look for animals or insects to discuss. Play the podcast a few minutes into the workstation. Have students look at the web on the ecology activity sheet to visualize Russell Cave's ecosystem. Encourage children to locate, study, and discuss animals and insects around the boardwalk. When children have located an animal or insect, discuss where the animal or insect gets its nutrition. Then, encourage children to discuss how plants and other animals are part of a food chain. Upon exiting the boardwalk, encourage students to complete the ecosystem web template below the example web. Use the list of Russell Cave native plants and animals to complete the web.
SKINS AND SKULLS (in the pavilion) The Skins and Skulls materials will be set out when students arrive at the Skins and Skulls workstation. Have students listen to the podcast prior to handling the exhibit materials. During the station, encourage children to identify and discuss animals around Russell Cave. We recommend children choose a partner to visit each skin and skull. Rotating around to each skin and skull would allow students time to discuss and handle items in an orderly fashion. If time allows, partners may discuss the how ancient people may have used the animal they identified.
Students will make a Russell Cave National Monument "layered book" foldable with three sheets of paper. Label each flap according the workstation visited and write summary of each station. Encourage each student to share with the class or a partner the summary of their favorite workstation. If desired, return some or all of the layered books to the rangers at Russell Cave to help assess this program.