Sandbox gives users a feel for how land can be shaped

Myka Amos, foreground, Jeremiah Nienstedt, Gabriela Nienstedt and Logan Amos, all from the Marion area, enjoyed building lakes, hills, and other terrain on the Augmented Reality Sandbox on loan from Eureka during the 73rd annual Marion County Conservation District meeting and dinner. Patty Decker/Free Press
Myka Amos, foreground, Jeremiah Nienstedt, Gabriela Nienstedt and Logan Amos, all from the Marion area, enjoyed building lakes, hills, and other terrain on the Augmented Reality Sandbox on loan from Eureka during the 73rd annual Marion County Conservation District meeting and dinner. Patty Decker/Free Press
Matt Meyerhoff, the NRCS supervisory district conservationist, said he encourages both children and adults to try the Augmented Reality Sandbox by UC Davis, which is a teaching tool owned by the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts.

“Kansas has only two of the sandboxes in the state with one based in western Kansas, and the other in Eureka,” he said. “The sandbox teaches people about earth and watershed sciences and is available to all conservation districts in the state.”

The AR Sandbox can be used by land management agencies to test environmental change scenarios to make informed decisions related to natural disaster planning.

Educators can use the sandbox to build topographic models to explore sea level rise and storm surges, while earth science researchers can project a variety of earth observation date to include satellite images and solar radiation onto three-dimensional models to visualize patterns of environmental data as it relates to topography.

Meyerhoff said children were making lakes, hills, erosion lines and iso equal elevations to represent connecting points providing a visual representation of the terrain.

The idea of the AR Sandbox, at events like the Marion County Conservation District meeting Feb. 28 was to serve as a tool involving local and global systems of change, and even flood risk in some areas.

“It’s good to see by the number of people, the interest in Marion County conservation,” Meyerhoff added.