The Augmented Reality Sandbox, a hands-on exhibit funded by the National Science Foundation developed by the UC Davis KeckCaves, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, the Lawrence Hall of Science, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, and Audience Viewpoints Consulting opened in California at the Lawrence Hall of Science in 2014. The interactive exhibit teaches concepts relating to topography, watersheds, ecosystems, and much more using kinetic sand and innovative software technology. This exciting innovation has inspired people all over the world and continues to grow as its features are further developed.
Since its launch, the AR Sandbox has not only attracted visitors to the founding partners of the LakeViz3D project at the Lawrence Hall of Science, Tahoe Environmental Research Center, and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, but it is also beginning to gain widespread attention by other educational institutions. This video shows the AR Sandbox being used at State University of New York at Geneseo, where the sandbox was developed by implementing the model designed by the team at UC Davis. The Sandbox has received a lot of positive feedback from those who have used or built upon it, and its use has been documented in various forms to share with and inspire others to become involved in their own sandbox adventures.
The AR Sandbox has also influenced researchers from the Geographic Information Network of Alaska at the University of Alaska, where developers have used the original open source software developed by Oliver Kreylos to create a version of their own to demonstrate changes in the environment using the topographical visualizations. Greg Wirth, a pioneer on the Geographic Information team, has since developed four more sandboxes and has helped build six others.
Other institutions including MIT and the University of Wyoming have developed their own versions of the sandbox to share with the public. At the Geological Museum at the University of Wyoming, the sandbox is not only being used as an interactive display to the public, but it also serves as a tool for some of the geology classes at the university to explain topographical maps and watersheds. Laura Vietti, Museum and Collections Manager at the university, says “Future plans are to create an ARS module where the water function acts as groundwater and will have a water-table baseline that can be ‘drilled into’ by lowering elevation of sand”.
At East Carolina University, Dr. Terri Woods has her students form their own simple landforms with the sandbox, teaching them the basics so they can later construct models such as coasts with spits and baymouth bars. Terri has also done outreach with the sandbox by sharing it with local schools. An earth science teacher at a high school in North Carolina suggested that every school in the state should have a sandbox, stressing the importance of this innovation as an important tool for teaching students about geology.
The AR Sandbox has even taken worldwide effect, inspiring people all over the globe to take the initiative in implementing and even expanding upon the exhibit to fit their individual purposes. From the high school robotics team in Ithaca, to the Catavento Cultural e Educacional science center in Brazil, and even to an exhibit at the Museum of Future Government Services in Dubai, the Sandbox has brought together communities in local research centers, museums, and classrooms to learn and become inspired by this scientific innovation. The AR Sandbox has reached as far as Bold Park Community School in Perth, Australia, where it has been put to good use in classrooms since 2012. Rhys George, who constructed the sandbox at Bold Park, is currently conducting a research project focusing on children ages four to five and their interactions with the sandbox in a social constructivist environment.
To see more videos, photos, and additional information about AR Sandboxes, visit the External Installations page of Oliver Kreylos’ Sandbox website.