While we were in Virginia recently we had the opportunity to visit Dixie Caverns in Western Virginia. Dixie Caverns was first discovered when a dog wandered off from his owners back in 1920. The cavern opened three years later to the public and has been a tourist spot to thousands of visitors since then.
The cavern is an underground cave full of science and exploration for children. If you are lucky to come across one, I definitely recommend taking the kids for a guided tour. During our 40 minute tour, we learned so much and I was thrilled to see the kids were full of questions. We were hesitant at first thinking they would lose interest,but boy were we wrong!
The experience was fun and the kids were able to bring to life what they have been exploring in science class. We learned that there were several different types of caves in the U.S. but this particular cave was a solutional cave that was filled with limestone stalactites and a stalagmites. The kids learned the difference between the two and that they are formed by water dripping from the ceiling of the cave then creating mounds on the ground. (For my sixth grader, it was a nice review of what he already knew.)
There were also very cool puddles of water that looked very deep but were only two or three inches deep. And the reflections it created with the light really gave us an opportunity to see how amazing science really is!
Another important lesson we learned was how to preserve the caves. It took thousands of years for the cave to form, but if we’re not careful, we could destroy the caves very easily. We weren’t allowed to touch several parts of the cave and we had to be very careful with leaving any trash behind.
Finally, we learned about the ecosystem of caves. The types of animals commonly found in caves which includes bats. Lots of them! And bears. Thankfully, we didn’t run into either of those on our tour!
Cave exploration was a lot of fun and learning and a great time for the kids. Definitely give it a try!