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Augmented Reality Creates Watershed Moment at Explorit


This article appeared in the November 24, 2017 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Augmented Reality Creates Watershed Moment at Explorit

An augmented reality sandbox at work. Photo by JkoLd19d


By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


A brand new exhibit is landing in Explorit’s gallery, just in time for the holiday season. Come visit our new watershed model to create various land forms by manipulating sand, then trigger a digital projection of “rainfall” and watch where the water moves in the landscape you’ve created.


Can you dam up the water to prevent a flood? Can you channel the water to where you want it to go? Where does the water naturally flow in this environment?


Rearrange the sand and create many different possibilities. The digital projection can demonstrate color-coded changes in elevation and topographical lines as well as simulated water.


This Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox exhibit was created by researchers at U.C. Davis and brought to life at Explorit by the craftsmanship of Davis Makerspace. AR Sandbox is the result of an NSF-funded project on informal science education for freshwater lake and watershed science developed by the UC Davis’ W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES), together with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Lawrence Hall of Science, and ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.


The project combines 3D visualization applications with a hands-on sandbox exhibit to teach earth science concepts. The augmented reality (AR) sandbox allows users to create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water.


You can learn more about the Augmented Reality Sandbox at, or even find instructions to build your own.




Explorit’s coming events:


●      Seasonal Science events are coming to Explorit! Join us on Wednesday, December 27 to explore snow and make a snow globe, $10 per person, $5 for Explorit members.

●      Visit our NEW Feathers exhibition! Explorit’sExploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free.

●      Be an informal science educator for a day! Explorit is looking for volunteers to accompany our educators into classrooms during the day and assist with presenting hands-on science to school children. If this sounds like you, please fill out a volunteer application at

●      Explorit is entering into its annual fundraising drive. Now more than ever, we need science education. Your donations help Explorit serve our community with exhibits, activities and educational outreach programs in 15 surrounding counties. Sponsor a program by making a gift, or call us for more details.

●      Interested in membership? Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed?  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up.

●      Birthdays are fun with science at Explorit! Choose Super Birthday Party topics to make this a special event. Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 for more information or to book your party.



Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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