Guntown Middle School Students Learn STEM Subjects By Playing In The Sandbox

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GUNTOWN, MISS. (WCBI) – Some Lee County students are learning about weather patterns, topography, and other subjects by playing in the sand.

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At Guntown Middle School, seventh-graders look forward to science class.

Connie Gusmus got a little help from her family on how to teach students about topography, or the physical features of an area of land, and how it affects the weather.

“The students, get to, I call play in it, but what they’re really doing is learning,” Gusmus said.

Students push the sand around in the box, forming peaks, and valleys, with contour lines and colors. Higher elevations are red, orange, and brown, while lower elevations are green, with blue representing water.

This augmented reality sandbox is built with an X Box connect, which reads the patterns in the sand, that information is sent to a computer program, and finally to a projector which displays the 3 D images.

Gusmus says this teaching tool provides many learning opportunities.

“It also helps us visualize when we get into weather and clouds, different systems coming in, when they see it on TV and clouds are different colors, they relate that back to topography map where they had different heights in sand, that helps them understand different cloud levels,” Gusmus said.

“I’ve learned that, whenever at the highest point of the mountain, it gets cooler, in the middle, at highest point, it’s snow and one side it can be raining and other side can be deserts and sunshine,” said Seventh Grader Lindyn McMillan.

“Leeward and windward side, I had no clue, and I learned a lot, from that one little thing,” said Seventh Grader Gavin Holcomb.

The augmented reality sandbox brings the latest technology into the classroom, teaching students about a variety of subjects, in ways that are fun, engaging, and hands-on. And who doesn’t like to play in the sand.

Gusmus points out it was a team effort to get the augmented reality sandbox, involving Guntown staff, teachers, and even an Oxford businessman who donated the white sand.