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SciStreet: Augmented Reality Sandbox

Science on the Street’s Augmented Reality Sandbox is an adaptation of the original sandbox designed at UC Davis. SciStreet created this version of the sandbox to be portable and adaptable to many different locations.

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Visitors enjoying our portable sandbox

The sandbox runs off a projector, an XBox Kinect, and a laptop running the projection software. As visitors push the sand around, the topographic map updates in real time, allowing them to witness the effects of their actions.

The sandbox displays a number of different properties and can be used to discuss various geographic concepts. It has a color-coded elevation map: white for the highest elevation and blue for the lowest. There are topographic contour lines which match the elevation map. It even has a feature to simulate rainfall, by holding your hand above the the sand.

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The shimmering blue areas represent water. The water flows around the topology as it would in real life.

Whether you’re learning about how to read topographic maps, water flow, or watersheds, the AR Sandbox is an excellent learning tool. If you’re interested in building your own, visit the UC Davis site for instructions.

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