Augmented Reality Turns a Sandbox into a Lesson
Starting the school year, all students (PK-8) at Oak Hill Academy in Lincroft, NJ, will have the opportunity to play and learn in a sandbox in the Soler Science Center on the grounds of the Harris Science Complex. However, this is no ordinary sandbox, but a combination sandbox and technology that together superimposes responsive digital effects onto sand in a sandbox. This places educators and students in an augmented reality, offering a hands-on way to explore geoscience as well as other scientific phenomenon.
In practice, a student uses a rake to scrape sand in a 30” x 40” float box, forming hills and valleys. Above, a Microsoft Kinect camera automatically gauges the distance to the sand and projects contour lines and colors onto the scene – cool colors for depressions, warm colors for peaks.
As the student pushes sand around into peaks, the colors swirl and dance, forming green and orange islands in a sea of blue. If the student hovers her palm over a mountain, and virtual rain pours down, slicking over cliffs and plunging into the blue. Student are free to experiment pushing the contours to form volcanoes, build dams, track hurricanes, and irrigate farmland. Advance study would include using the sandbox to project a variety of Earth observation data, (e.g., satellite images, vegetation indices, solar radiation,) onto 3-D landscape models to better visualize and understand how spatial patterns of environmental data relate to topography.
Additional software can be introduced providing the sandbox the ability to be used for adventure activities in games, art, space, and underwater. Students at Oak Hill, regardless of age or background, enjoy learning by exploring. Once exposed to this type of interactive technology, users are hooked and are pushed by their curiosity to ask more questions and discover more information about our environment.
It is believed that the sandbox is the only one of its kind in Monmouth Country. It was built by the Oak Hill staff with technical assistance provided by ACA Computers of Shrewsbury, N.J.
Play has never been so fun and educational!
Oak Hill Academy is a NJ private school that is co-educational, independent, nonsectarian, and nonprofit for grades pre-kindergarten through eight. Oak Hill Academy is dedicated to a traditional, challenging, and caring learning environment that encourages comprehensive thought processes and deep understandings; thus promoting the wholesome intellectual, emotional, moral, and physical lifetime growth of our students. If you want to learn more about what makes Oak Hill Academy one of the best private school in NJ, visit us online at www.oakhillacademy.com , or subscribe to our mailing list to be notified when we post more topics.