Augmented reality sandbox makes water issues come to life

Playing in the sandbox is not just for backyard fun, a notion confirmed by 4th grade students at Alton Darby Elementary School in Hilliard, as I recently brought Ohio Farm Bureau’s augmented reality sandbox to their school for a fun lesson on land formations, erosion, topography and more!

The augmented reality sandbox uses a computer projector and a motion-sensing input device mounted above a box of sand to give users an interactive topography map full of colors and lines indicating elevation and slope. The motion sensor can also apply virtual rain to the sandbox to demonstrate how water moves over the shifting sand-scape.

Augmented reality sandbox. Hilliard students
4th graders at Alton Darby Elementary building a virtual mountain in the augmented reality sandbox.

The technology was open sourced from University of California, Davis and put together by OFBF interns and members of the IT department for use at the Ohio State Fair, Farm Science Review and other educational events.

Farm Bureau is committed to every aspect of supporting water quality efforts and the sandbox is one of many projects geared toward water quality education. It is important for every Ohio resident, not just agriculturalists, to understand the importance of water quality in all facets of our environment.

About 100 students spent the day learning about different types of erosion, weathering, and

4th graders applied previous lessons on landforms and erosion by building different terrain and viewing how water moves off different elevations.

drainage as each small group took turns building different landforms in the sand and watching as the “water” moved across the terrain they built. The students had previous research projects on different landforms, weathering and erosion and happily applied those lessons by building mountains, lakes and the most popular of all, volcanoes! Although the kids were disappointed that I could not make red lava burst from the top of their volcanoes, the sandbox captivated student after student and provided a hands-on learning experience the kids will seemingly remember for a long time.

OFBF will continue to do their part in creating fun and informative atmospheres of learning and look forward to bringing the sandbox to many more places in the future.

Here is more information on the augmented reality sandbox. To schedule a visit, contact Ohio Farm Bureau.