Kansas State University


Department of Geology

Come and play with our New Sandbox!

One of the “hands-on” modern approaches that facilitates the teaching of difficult 3D concepts, such as the meaning of contour lines and interpretation of topographic maps, is the Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox.  The AR Sandbox uses 3D visualization applications to enable users to create topographic models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map projected onto the sand; the projection includes topographic contour lines and simulated surface water and precipitation.  Students are able to interact with the sandbox and see immediately how different topographies would appear on a map as well as how those differences would affect the movement of water through a landscape or how differences in precipitation might affect that landscape. This equipment will greatly enhance the instructional environment for nearly all introductory geology courses, but particularly GEOL 100 (Earth in Action), GEOL 103 (Introductory Geology Laboratory), GEOL 115 (Environmental Geology) and GEOL 125 (Natural Disasters).

The AR Sandbox was originally developed by W. M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences at UC Davis and many organization around the world are now using it. Acquisition of an AR Sandbox along with the EMriver in the department of geology at Kansas State University shows our continuing commitment to providing students with a state-of-the-art learning environment, as envisaged in the University’s 2025 goals.

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