What is a Topobox?

Topobox is an implementation of an open source project at U.C. Davis supported by the National Science Foundation. Topobox consists of a sand table, a scanner, and a projector. The scanner (a Kinect 3D Scanner) detects the height and placement of the sand in the basin and, using the software from U.C. Davis, calculates the appropriate projection and transmits the information to the projector, which then projects topographic lines and colors onto the corresponding sand below. 

How do you use Topobox?

You simply move the sand around! You can create different geographic formations, from mountains to valleys to river deltas to flood plains, and watch the water collect and flow over various water sheds.  

Topobox comes with basic suggestions for activities and lessons. Topobox can be used to teach and study topography, geomorphology, hydrology, geology, erosion, deposition, conservation, many other Earth sciences, and even computer sciences! See Applications for more information on uses.

Who can use Topobox?

Anyone old enough to reach the sand (see information below regarding height adjustment) and young enough to enjoy the magic can use it!

Additional features and modes

  • Rain & Drain features
    • Participants can make their very own weather phenomena with simple hand motions
  • Adjustable height
    • Includes toddler height & standard height
  • Easy clean out
  • Spill guards for sand overflow
  • Portable assembly
  • Resettable programming for use in Computer Science lessons