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Go Ask Mom

Build mountains, dig valleys in Kidzu's 'augmented reality' sandbox

Posted January 31

Kidzu Children's Museum in Chapel Hill will have a fun and very hands-on activity in the next week.

Through Sunday, Feb. 5, museum visitors can build mountains or deep ravines with an "augmented reality" sandbox, which uses kinetic sand and technology to create a 21st century take on the old playground standby.

Kinetic sand is that mushy, moldable stuff that you can buy in toy stores. As you move the sand around to form mountains and valleys, topography software measures the height of the sand and projects different colors onto it based on the sand's elevation.

Kids love it. And so do adults. From experience, I'll share that it is incredibly relaxing to play with the sand and watch the colors change as you build up or down.

The sandbox is on loan from N.C. State University's Center for Aquatic Ecology, which uses it as an educational outreach tool.

This isn't the first time the Triangle has seen a sandbox like this. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center had one paired with its Water In Our World exhibit a couple of years ago. The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh has one permanently in its Discovery Room. And Kidzu has hosted N.C. State's sandbox before.

The sandbox will be at Kidzu through Sunday during the hours of its Makery (which is closed from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. each day).

It's free with admission, which is $7.50 for everybody over age 12 months.

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