Playing in a sandbox may seem foolish, but not when that sandbox brings augmented reality to public schools.

Soft SkillsThe superintendent of Fremont Public Schools, Mark Shephard,  and other administrators had their hands in the sand creating structures prior to a Board of Education Meeting.  The district’s new Augmented Reality Sandbox is registered through the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

Shephard believes the Reality Sandbox is the first of its kind in Nebraska Public Schools. The goal is to allow students to have a three dimensional visualization tool which makes it possible to learn about earth science. The real sandbox also features virtual topography and water using a three-dimensional camera, simulation and visualization software, along with a data projector.

Users shape real sand which is augented by an elevation color map, simulated water, and toporaphic contour lines. Users learn how to read a topography map, and about watersheds, levees, catchment areas and the meaning of contour lines.

Executive director of teaching and learning Kate Heinemann says that new technology is opening new opportunities and ideas for students. “You can read to students about social studies or science in a book – tell them, but they can’t actually experience it,” she said. “Fremont’s kind of flat, so they don’t always get to see or feel that stuff. So I know this would make learning a whole lot of fun for them.”

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