Back in May, I wrote about "Dig It: The Secrets of Soil," the latest special exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.
The exhibit wasn't quite open to the public yet when I went and I missed out on what's turned out to be a popular part of the exhibit - the sand table inside the exhibit's classroom.
At the table, visitors can move and shape kinetic sand, the moldable stuff that you see in toy stores. As they do it, an XBox Kinect measures the height of the sand and projects different colors onto it based on the sand's elevation. Kids can build a landscape and even make it rain by holding their hands steadily over the table as white and blue blobs of color sprinkle across the table.
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center had a similar sand table for another exhibit in 2014, which my kids spent a lot of time at. And, I'll admit it, I did too. There's something incredibly relaxing about molding the sand and watching the colors change based on the topography.
At the Dig It sand table on Thursday, my daughter and a soccer teammate, who we happened to run into, built big mountains, volcanoes and plains. They made it rain and watched as the topographic lines and colors changed. Within an hour of opening, the table was crowded with kids and parents building, knocking over and pushing around the sand.
The sand table is part of a classroom with games, activities, books and displays that focus on the soil. The bigger exhibit, "Dig It," highlights how soil is responsible for much of what we need to live - food, fibers, construction materials, clean water, medicine and climate regulation.
There's just a couple more weeks to check out Dig It. It closes on Aug. 16.
Thanks to support from BASF, the Soil Science Society of America and other donors, entry to the exhibit is free (just like it is to the rest of the museum), but donations are welcomed.
Dig It! is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with a last entry at 4 p.m.) from Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. (with last entry at 4 p.m.) on Sunday. It's open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (with last entry at 7 p.m.) on the first Friday of each month (including next Friday, Aug. 7).