GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 155-13
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM


KORTEMEIER, Winifred, Geoscience, Western Nevada College, 2201 West College Parkway, Carson City, NV 89703

Each semester, students in Geology 101 at Western Nevada College, Carson City, receive the same lab quiz on topographic maps, contour lines, and topographic profiles. Scores on this lab quiz are noticeably lower than scores on the other 14 lab quizzes. In the fall semester of 2017, students, funded through several NASA grants, finished building an augmented reality (AR) sandbox, which virtually projects contour lines onto actual sand in a 30"x40" sandbox. The AR sandbox uses a Kinect 3D camera/sensor to read the surface of the sand, a digital video projector to project the contour lines onto the sand, and a high-end processor and graphics card to enable contour lines to be updated in real time as the sand is rearranged. (The Augmented Reality Sandbox technology was developed by the UC Davis W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES,, supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL 1114663). Starting in the spring semester of 2018, students were required to play for 10 minutes in the AR sandbox to determine if unstructured use of the technology would improve comprehension of contour lines and topography. Scores on the identical quiz were compared for three semesters after initiating use of the AR Sandbox (post AR sandbox) to three semesters before use of the AR Sandbox (pre AR sandbox). There were 38 student scores for post AR Sandbox and 48 scores for pre AR sandbox. The average quiz score for pre AR Sandbox was 82.2%, while the average for post AR sandbox was 88.3%, a 6.1% increase in average quiz score, indicating that unstructured play in the AR sandbox increases comprehension of contour lines and topography. In upcoming semesters, we intend to provide structured activities to be completed in the sandbox before taking the quiz, to determine if scores and comprehension can be further improved.