Southeastern Section - 66th Annual Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 3-6
Presentation Time: 10:20 AM


FINK, Sam P., Charleston, SC 29401, VULAVA, Vijay M., Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424 and BECKINGHAM, Barbara A., Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424,

Understanding Earth system processes ideally requires immersion in appropriate field settings or the ability to visualize such settings in model environments. When access to physical sites are unavailable, it is effective to make use of physical models to improve learning. These models have their virtues as well as problems with their scalability, especially with large scale phenomena such as mountain building. Physical models are powerful if the user plays a role in modifying the model and receives an immediate feedback. 

The portable augmented reality sandbox (ARS) is one such model that can better demonstrate Earth systems and spatial reasoning. The ARS contains four main pieces of hardware: a simple sandbox, a Microsoft Kinect camera, a digital projector, and a PC. The projector and Kinect camera, both connected to the PC, are placed three feet above the sandbox. The projector projects a “live surface” containing real time topographic contour lines generated by the PC onto the sandbox surface. The Kinect camera collects and relays information to the PC in real-time and the PC processes this information and projects the new “live surface” back onto the sand instantaneously. Earth's infinite topographic variations can now be quickly visualized in any classroom. Example applications include, formation of watersheds, mountain ranges, and hydrological cycle. This ARS includes a submodule that simulates rainfall which will even collect in the low regions of the sandbox. This system uses open source software developed by the UC Davis W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences. The ARS has been implemented in over 150 ARS installations at museums, science centers, and educational institutions around the world. Typically, these systems are stationary and cannot be moved after installation due to their cumbersome size. Unlike others, this highly portable configuration allows the entire platform to be easily transported. Now, this extremely powerful teaching tool can be taken along with educators allowing maximum exposure.

This presentation will outline the procedure and materials necessary to replicate the system and its uses. It will also include a live demonstration of the system on site. This platform is intended to act as a template for anyone wishing to replicate the Portable ARS system.