Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Augmented Reality Sandbox

Westerville City Schools have a new educational tool available to use in classrooms — the Augmented Reality Sandbox.

If you attended Starry Night last Spring you may have seen the Augmented Reality Sandbox in action. The Westerville Partners for Education, with the help of Westerville North High students, created the ARS and it has been visiting Westerville Schools. The ARS has impacted student instruction at Fouse and Hawthorne so far, with future dates at Hanby, Pointview, and Huber Ridge.

The ARS is a dynamic, hands on tool to address learning objectives such as landform identification, the effects of forces on landforms, contour lines, topographic maps, erosion, weathering, and watersheds, just to name a few.

Basics- What is an Augmented Reality Sandbox?

The ARS uses a projector, Kinect video gaming camera and a computer running the specific program. The camera continuously reads a 3D image that tells the computer where the surface of the sand is at any time. The computer takes this depth of information and adds contour lines and color depth coding. When the sand is moved the projected image is updated. Lowest areas are projected as simulated water.

Students are able to make hills, mountains, islands, plateaus, rivers, and even add human elements like small structures and dams by moving the sand with their hands or small scoops. Students can simulate rain entering the watershed by making a “rain cloud” with their hands. It is also possible to make “waves” using a small ball or a piece of cardboard. Users can also add a greater quantity of “water” or “drain” the ARS with different keystrokes.

One of the most captivating qualities of the ARS is the hands on component. Students discover many concepts quickly and make fabulous connections on their own. There are lots of structured ideas hitting on everything from gravity to topographic maps to the surface of the moon and impact from meteors to art concepts.

Students also benefit from experiencing a new way to solve problems and a real life example of using code to create genuine projects and activities like the creators of the ARS.

For lesson plans, integration ideas, or to host the ARS  please contact your Ed Tech Coach!

#WCSWhereUBelong, #WestervilleWay, #augmentedreality


  1. I am a science teacher in the area and would love to build one of these for my building. Would someone be willing to contact me to share ideas of using the AR Sandbox for reinforcing middle school science content standards?

    1. Please contact one of the Ed Tech Coaches listed on the link in the post for a follow up conversation. We'd love to collaborate with you!