Lake Ridge students learn from augmented reality sandbox from ETSU

Contributed To The Press • Updated Dec 8, 2018 at 12:01 AM

Telling kids to move mountains used to be a catchy cliché. But at Lake Ridge Elementary School, the words recently were detailed instructions to students as they learned from the ETSU Geoscience augmented reality sandbox.

The ETSU Geoscience Department and William Tollefson brought the mobile map and allowed students to push around sand to create and destroy mountains. The unit, designed by ETSU graduate students in the department by using a computer, Xbox camera and other tools, allows students to visualize and manipulate landforms and bodies of water in a computer-generated format.

“This is one of the tools that we use in our classes in order for students to get a hands-on look at different landforms,” Dr. Tollefson said. “Students have the ability to move and create large land masses and manipulate water in order to see the different effects it has on the environment.”

Many of the students were all smiles after they were given the instructions to dig in and move the sand around. The camera above the sand is able to gauge the height of the sand and will make either a landform or water mass, based on the sand’s elevation. Students can even ball up their fist over a landform and cause it to rain. As the augmented reality rain falls, students can actually see how the topography of the land affects water.

Lake Ridge teachers said the activity fit well with curricular standards, as students were able to connect the new things they learned to previous lessons. Teachers said they also could tell students were more engaged than sitting in the classroom — they were able to get their hands dirty and loved the interactive nature of the lesson.

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