Header Image: 
Close-up of the Augmented Reality Sandbox

Discover water flow and topography in a sandbox

Make digital rain fall down the slopes of a kinetic sand landscape of valleys, mountains, and plateaus. Experiment with how the water flows according to the landscape’s topography, then learn the real-life applications that this understanding holds. With the help of a volunteer docent, you can even build your own landscapes!

Watch the Augmented Reality Sandbox in action.

Facilitation needed to use this exhibit, staffed when volunteers are available.

What can you learn with the Augmented Reality Sandbox exhibit?

  • Water Conservation: See what happens to the water when it rains, what is a watershed, and why watersheds are so important in conserving water. Understand how water moves across Earth’s surfaces and the effect it has on ecosystems.
  • How to Use Maps: Have you ever been hiking and looked at a map, only to wonder what all those squiggly lines mean? Play with the shape of the sand and see how the digital topographic lines change according to slope steepness.
  • Problem-Solving: Before you make it rain by placing your hand over the sand, try figuring out where the watershed will form and where the water will drain last. Map out the easiest route you would take if you were to hike on the landscape you created.
  • Planetary Landforms/Geology: Generate a physical model of various landforms and understand water’s role in creating them. Learn about landforms and water on planets other than our own, with the help of the neighboring Science On a Sphere® exhibit.

This exhibit was made possible through a grant funded by the National Science Foundation.