Are you ready to have your students FLIP OUT over topographic maps??  Well, with the help of the researchers at UC Davis and interactive 3D projection technology (and a little sand) you CAN BUILD THIS and blow your students minds!



Using this setup of a Microsoft Kinect, digital projector, and a sandbox, you can now make an interactive topographic map that will show contour lines and elevation in real time and respond to you and your students’ actions.

The sandbox in it’s natural state gets transformed when the Kinect and the digital projector are turned on and display the graphics from above.


Don’t have time to build one yourself or feeling overwhelmed with the technical portion?  Take advantage of those awesome brains coming into your classroom every day! This is a perfect STEM project to get your science students excited about technology and engineering, just like these students from Ithaca’s High School FIRST Robotics Team 639. The students built the following Augmented Reality (AR) sandbox in 2013 and have since donated it to a children’s museum.




Ready to get started?  Go ahead and download these instructions for construction and software setup.  Think your students need some more background on topographic maps and contour lines?  Then check out this chapter from my Earth Science Interactive Notebook series: Mapping Earth’s Surface

Want to see more?  Here’s a video ( showing a virtual dam failure and levee break – simply amazing!!

C’mon, tell me this wouldn’t get your students excited about Earth Science.  Have fun with this one!!

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Thanks for stopping by,