Augmented Reality Sandbox (Part One)

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-8-03-32-pmAs far as I know, Hubbard Woods is the first elementary school in Illinois, possibly the United States, mabye even the world, to have an augmented reality sandbox.  What in the world is an augmented reality sandbox?  What’s the big deal?  What is augmented reality and what in the world is it doing in a sandbox?

What is Augmented Reality? Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Want to see it in action?  Here is a phenomenal video that shows how AR is being used for marketing, educational and research.

Okay, so augmented reality is pretty cool looking, but what in the world is it doing in our library?

What in the World is it Doing in Our Library?

I’m so glad you asked.  Our library is a place where we make connections, ask questions, find answers and create understanding.  So, an AR Sandbox is set to do just that.

Do you remember studying geography in elementary school?  I remember one excellent teacher who had us make examples of penninsulas, bays and my favorite, the isthmus.  Imagine being able to make those models and in real time change them into new models?  Imagine being able to create a lake and then make it flood.  Imagine piling up sand and as you do it watching the topographic lines evolve.  Push your fist into your ‘mountain’ and watch as it begins to erupt as a volcano.  Hold your hand over the mountains and watch it rain!  All of these are possible thanks to the AR Sandbox.

Besides just being incredibly awesome, students and teachers can learn through doing, or as Piaget said:  “To invent is to learn.”  This article from Wired gives some deeper understanding of the concept.I can’t think of any better way to explore and experience geography and geographic concepts.  Well, enough about why, let’s see it in action.

Here is another video that will probably blow your mind:

This is from the professor at University of California at Davis whom I have modeled our AR Sandbox.


It’s pretty mesmerizing for both kids and adults.  At our recent Parent Only Open House for the IDEA Lab, it was easily the most popular station as you can see from the images.

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The kids are just as impressed.  As fourth graders are exploring landforms this year, they will be coming up to the IDEA Lab to ‘build’ them in real time.

Are you interested in building one yourself?  It really isn’t that hard.  In fact, I’ll walk you step by step through the process in the next post.

 

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