What if you could learn the skill of contour reading without leaving the house? What if you could play God and create your own terrain and map simultaneously? Introducing the AR Sandbox! But this time it’s the Terrain Box.
My vision was to provide an interactive and intuitive experience for learning how to read contours. For me, reading contours is one of the hardest skills to successfully communicate when coaching and I believe a tool like this could be a huge help in making this process much easier for coaches and more impactful for learners.
I gave the Terrain Box its first outing at NZ Champs a few weeks back, set up at the NWOC accommodation. It got a lot of use (80ish people) over the 2 evenings it was set up for. It was great to see all the juniors get stuck in, but I was most excited to see the engagement from the adults in our club, many of whom have been dragged into orienteering by their children and skimmed through a lot of the important foundational learning around how to read contours. I now see the Terrain Box’s best value in unwinding the habits of many senior orienteers and giving them a second chance to get the fundamentals right.
The next step is to make a progression of exercises, starting from very easy, like a single large hill, to very hard, like numerous small features on a slope, where the objective is to read the map and create the terrain while using the Terrain Box to check your work as you build the land forms. Setting up the exercises in reverse is also an interesting idea and should generate a lot of appreciation for the challenge professional mappers face in creating some of our wonderful maps.
Its second showing will be at a work event where people share home projects with their colleagues and then its third at the NWOC end of year prize giving. I aim to bring it to the forest next year and I’m open to more suggestions around how to get maximum use out of this new toy. Also get in touch if you are thinking of building our own.