First check this out. (H/T Wired)
Basically what is happening is there is a camera above the table that can see how the sand is formed. Then it uses a projector to project a graphic onto the sand. The effect is quite remarkable.
The different components used here are not expensive and the project has made their code available on their website. Projects like this are becoming more and more common therefore provide a nice blending of computers and real life.
The educational uses of this are obvious.
From the article:
The exhibits are presented with minimal instruction. Play, curiosity, and self-driven learning are all encouraged. “The power of the sandbox is that it’s trivial to make your own terrain completely from scratch and in moments, without any training,” explains Oliver Kreylos, one of the lead UC Davis researchers on the project. “There’s just no better way to teach how topographic contour lines work, or how water flows over a landscape, than building whatever terrain you can imagine, and then seeing the contours and the water react in real time to any changes you make.”
You can teach physics, ecology, graphics, and architecture (to a certain extent). What would be cool would be to add some computer generate animals and have to build a habitat for them. I need to make one of these for my boy when he gets older!
On an unrelated note, I am on vacation next week until Thursday so I will not be blogging. Have a great week everyone!