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SBU Student Gives New Meaning to Playing in the Sand

Virtual sandbox
SBU senior Nick Aversano
SBU senior Nick Aversano

While doing an internship with the Glen Cove School District last summer, Stony Brook University senior Nick Aversano created a cutting-edge virtual sandbox for students in the district. With his knowledge of software programming and electronics, Aversano was able to use software from the University of California, Davis, and develop it into a working virtual sandbox.

Eighth graders in the district used the sandbox for a three-dimensional science lesson on contour mapping. The sandbox uses a standard projector and an Xbox Kinect to project colorful images onto the sand, which the students can then manipulate. They can identify contour lines, which represent changes in elevation, in addition to manipulating climate. The students can also see how water flows from different points and add water to the sand to completely change the topography.

virtual sandbox
Images are projected onto the sand, which can be manipulated.

Aversano is a technological systems management major in the Department of Technology and Society within the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. After graduating in Spring 2017, he wants to pursue a career in the technology field. “Working for Glen Cove School District over the summer was overall a great experience, not only did I learn a lot from my time there but the people were truly amazing,” he said. “It was an interesting project to me because I have not worked on anything like it before and was curious to see the end result.”

Here at Stony Brook, The Innovation Lab, in cooperation with the Department of Geosciences, built an augmented reality sandbox using the same open-source software as Aversano. It is housed at Geosciences and used in classes as a hands-on tool to teach core principles in the field.

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