Roanoke Parks and Recreation has a new experiential learning exhibit at the Mill Mountain Discovery Center. The Augmented Reality Sandbox provides a unique, hands-on, educational opportunity for kids of all ages. This exhibit is free to the public, utilizing augmented reality technology to allow users to watch their sandbox creations come to life in front of their eyes.
How Does Augmented Reality Work?
Augmented reality (AR) is a unique technology which projects a computer generated image onto real objects. In this case the image is projected on the surface of the sandbox, changing in real-time as the sand is shifted by users. By playing with the sand, you can observe the contour lines and colors of the mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes you create.
Patrick Boas, Play Roanoke’s Recreation Manager, wants the sandbox to be a tool for teaching in a fun and interactive way. Boas said, “At first, it’s just a sandbox to play with that has colors, but once you get to the educational piece, it’s neat to see that click.”
Not only does this exhibit introduce concepts such as topography and erosion, it also demonstrates the importance of watersheds. When a user spreads their hand wide over the landscape, it acts like a storm cloud producing rain. By observing how this water interacts with the landscape and where it goes, participants can see the effects of flooding and stormwater.
Visit the Discovery Center
You can visit the Augmented Reality Sandbox and other natural exhibits at the Discovery Center on Mill Mountain. The Discovery Center is free to the public with the following operating hours:
April – Thanksgiving
Thursday – Saturday
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Thanksgiving – March
Thursday – Sunday
12:00 – 4:00 p.m.