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Have you ever seen a cave-dwelling animal up close and personal? Students from Kealing Middle School put on hard hats and headlamps to venture down Whirlpool Cave in Austin recently and saw these creatures in person.

“It was a physical activity, climbing through the cave, but the students had fun and enjoyed the moments when we stopped for the educational portions to learn about how our actions outside the cave affect [the animals inside],” said Lucinda Pogue, Kealing Middle School Environmental Science teacher.

The City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department’s Jessica Gordon led students through the cave and discussed how water travels through the cave to Barton Springs and how land-use decisions in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone can impact the endangered Barton Springs salamander. It was also an opportunity to talk about cave formations, various rock types, and other geological features.

After traveling down deep into the cave, students turned off their lights for a few moments to experience the depth and darkness while hearing the cave inhabitants. “We got an idea of what it was like for the cave animals,” said 7th grade student Jared Harbour.

A big thanks to Kealing teacher Lucinda Pogue and Jessica Gordon from the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department for leading students through the caves! The City also covered bus fees for the students, ensuring that no student had a barrier from attending the field trip.

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