Using grant money through South Central Power Company’s Operation RoundUp program, our office was able to construct an augmented reality sandbox for educational and program use.
The sandbox operates using free software developed out of UC-Davis, a desktop computer with a powerful graphics card, a projector and a Kinect camera for the Xbox 360 gaming console.
The sandbox system projects topographic lines and elevation specific colors onto the sand that change in real-time as students alter the “landscape” within the box.
Virtual water can be added through manual commands or through a “raincloud” feature that transforms students’ hands into precipitation sources. The water then follows realistic flow patterns across the landscape from its point of origin.
The sandbox is large enough to comfortably accommodate 5-6 students at a time and through the use of a second (classroom supplied) projector, the action taking place on the sand’s surface can be displayed for the entire class to see. (See picture at left)
Learning standards that have been successfully demonstrated with this system include: topography, erosion, watersheds, water flow patterns, glacial activity, landforms, and even catastrophic flood events. And these are just the ones we’ve attempted so far!
Due to the large size and complex setup and disassembly requirements of the sandbox, we prefer to coordinate for full day or consecutive day programs and not single classes. Ground floor classrooms are preferred if elevator access it not available. Carrying 200 pounds of sand plus bulky wood and steel up flights of stairs is not an enviable task!
If you would like to schedule the sandbox for your classroom, please contact our office to reserve it today!