Augmented Way to Learn

By Thomas Polochak

With the innovation and creativity that comes with technology in today’s society, teachers can now present topics to their students like never before. One of these teachers is Centereach’s very own Ms. Lerner, an Earth Science teacher. By applying for grants as well as working alongside Dawnwood Middle School’s tech club, Ms. Lerner was able to create what she is calling, an Augmented Reality Sandbox. By using a long throw projector and an Xbox Connect, her student’s can now interactively learn key concepts of the class, like topography. One of the key details of the invention is that it is augmented reality and not virtual reality, the main difference being that augmented reality gives definitions, something important for displaying concepts in Earth Science.  By moving the sand in the sandbox, the Xbox connect registers the movement of the sand and the projector projects a topographic map based off on how the sand is stacked. The map can show how water flows down mountains, how rivers flow, and different slopes of mountains; and much more. The different colors along the sides of the hills and mountains show depression and the contour lines point to higher elevations, making the sandbox an extremely useful model for numerous topics in Earth Science. Even though the sandbox is extremely helpful in demonstrating topics, it can still be improved, something Ms. Lerner intends to do this summer. Currently, the setup uses a long throw projector, traditionally used in places like movie theaters because the projection gets bigger the further away it is from the screen, or in this case the sandbox. For this reason, Ms. Lerner is going to replace the long throw projector with a short throw projector so that way at a close range, there can still be a big picture. Another improvement that Ms. Lerner intends to make is the way the projector and Xbox connect is setup, because they are currently being held up by string and tape. Overall the Augmented Reality Sandbox provides a fun learning experience to all that use it, and it will most definitely be a game changer in the Earth Science classes.

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