News 12 Features Finley's Virtual Sandbox


Virtual Sandbox News 12 Link

Finley Middle School eighth-graders recently took part in a three-dimensional science lesson as part of a unit study on contour mapping.

The lesson was made possible thanks to the district’s new Virtual Sandbox, which allows students and teachers to manipulate sand that is augmented in real time with an elevation color map, topographic contour lines and simulated water.

According to science teacher Steve Kocienda, the cutting-edge technology gives students an opportunity to 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 they are viewing.

Finley science teachers learned about the virtual learning tool from the University of California, Davis, and it came to fruition at the district thanks in part to the leadership of Student Management Systems Administrator Gayle Tullo.

The Virtual Sandbox uses a standard projector and an Xbox Kinect to project colorful images onto the sand. 

Nick Aversano, a Stony Brook University student interning at the district over the summer, developed the sandbox utilizing the software and directions from UC Davis.  Using his knowledge of software programming and electronics, Nicholas was able to develop the prototype into a working virtual sandbox for the district.  District carpenter, Brian Kormoski, was instrumental in constructing the sandbox in accordance with the exact specifications which would allow it to operate in a functional manner. Excellent teamwork and an enhanced education resource for our students!