Grab on Tight

Hello Project VENTURA readers and enthusiasts, my name is Lucia and I am a current sophomore at the Ann Richards School in the engineering pathway. As many of you may know, Project VENTURA is a 10th grade project at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. For the past two years, this project has been centered around restoring a vintage trailer, but this year, we are turning things upside down… literally!

This is an example of what our climbing cavern would look like. Image from Dream Climbing Walls.

This is an example of what our climbing cavern would look like.
Image from Dream Climbing Walls.

This year, my fabulous teacher, Ms. Jo, fellow classmates, and I have decided to construct a free-standing climbing cavern at our very own school! My current engineering class consists of only 10 girls this year and we are using that to our advantage; instead of dividing the class into multiple groups, we have decided to work together to design and build one climbing cavern together.
Our school’s mission is focused on a healthy and well balanced lifestyle and to support this statement, we dedicate 30 minutes each Friday to play outside; this is known as Fitness Friday. During Fitness Friday, you will find 200 girls in stylish uniforms performing a variety of activities including, walking the track, playing soccer on the field, or hitting a volleyball around with a group of friends. Although some girls do look forward to hanging with their friends, others find themselves bored with the same things to do each week. This is where the Project VENTURA climbing cavern comes into play. With the construction of the climbing cavern, it will give girls another fun activity to participate in during Fitness Friday, and maybe allow girls to create a passion for climbing.
Not only will our climbing cavern provide as a fun and physical option during Fitness Friday, but rock climbing has many benefits. Rock climbing challenges all muscles in the body and especially strengthens the core and arms. Climbing helps in almost any other sport as it further develops the primary muscles needed for a sport. Additionally, kids and teens accel at rock climbing as they have a lower strength-to-weight ratio, meaning that they have less weight to haul up, and they are typically more flexible.
Although climbing can give you the fit body you want, benefits of rock climbing are also mental. Each climb is like a puzzle; climbers have to strategize which route seems easiest and quickest. Problem solving and planning skills are really built on as climbers are able to see their climbing route before even getting started. As beginning climbers start to make it to the top of their climb, their confidence starts to build. Anything seems possible when looking at what has already been accomplished.

Classmate Shahar stands on a 2"x4" member to calculate beam deflection.

Classmate Shahar stands on a 2″x4″ member to calculate beam deflection.

After taking this all in, you may start to worry yourself with the safety of a climbing cavern. Let me take that stress off your shoulders as I tell you some of the actions we are taking to make this rock wall safe yet fun. We have designed our climbing cavern to only reach 8 feet; provide for different skill levels; and have a soft landing mat in case of any accidents. Our climbing cavern will not have any harnesses, like most traditional rock walls, but ours will only reach 8 feet. If at any point a student feels like she is in danger of falling, she can let her feet fall and let go of her hands and only fall two feet as she lands safely. Additionally, we will provide a soft landing mat around the base of the cavern to allow for safe landings if anyone should fall. Although this wall will not be very tall, we are going to make it just as challenging as we steepen the slopes of the walls and place grips further apart.
We know that when the wall is first built, every girl will have a different amount of experience. Our climbing cavern addresses different skill levels as we will make some walls more challenging than others. This will challenge all girls and help them improve as climbers.
I hope you are just as excited as we are about this climbing cavern! Thank you for taking the time to look into our new project and I’ll be back soon!


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