This Classic Childhood Experience Just Got Even Better

This high-tech sandbox is not only mesmerizing to watch—it could also change the way you see the world.

If you've ever wanted to try your hand at playing god, this might be as close as you're going to get. The Augmented Reality Sandbox, created by researchers at University of California, Davis, teaches topography in the coolest way possible: by projecting a map that shifts and changes as you mold the sand.

Form piles of sand and observe how the elevation color map changes and topographic contour lines morph to show the various levels of the miniature landscape. Then spread your fingers over the sand to simulate rain and watch how the water moves through the valleys and hills—just as it would in real life. So while you may feel like you're just playing with a sandbox from the future, you'll actually be learning about geography and topgraphy. Now the question is: How do we get these into every high school science classroom ASAP?

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Watch the AR Sandbox's magic in motion.

Augmented Reality Sandbox by Diversified Woodcrafts, $7,050, worthingtondirect.com. To learn more about the science behind the sandbox, visit arsandbox.ucdavis.edu.

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