Keys Staff Build Augmented Reality Sandbox

Imagine being able to create landscapes out of sand and then seeing the effects of water and weather come to life on your new creation. The new Augmented Reality Sandbox, built by our own Steven Zeigler, Technology Support Specialist, and Dave Coffman, Facilities Manager, allows students to shape sand into colorful topographical maps, which respond to the movement of sand. With funds from Innovator Grants, Steven and Dave took the initiative to build a sandbox for Keys. Said Steven, “It’s a cool project that hasn’t been done a lot and that I knew kids would love.” And he was right. When students encounter the sandbox, they are immediately engaged. One student remarked, “You feel like a god because you can control everything!” And another, “I like it because you can see different layers with the different colors.” The most popular student reaction to the sandbox echoed Steven’s own sentiments: “It’s so cool!”

The sandbox will provide teachers with a transformative teaching tool. Science teacher, Jennifer Spaeth, plans to use the sandbox to prepare eighth grade students for their spring Outdoor Ed trip. Students will create a topographical map of Catalina Island using the sandbox to hone their map-reading skills and to understand the geographical features of the island they will be hiking around.

Moreover, because this technology is brand new to both students and teachers, the sandbox offers a real-time, authentic opportunity for students and teachers to learn together. When students see their teachers as learners, and when students and teachers share the process of exploration and discovery, students experience the real-life benefits of inquiry and design processes. The magic of innovation sparkles in front of their very own eyes.

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