sandrific a Kimak project
best viewed on the beach

A Note for Educators

01.28.13 | Posted in Project Updates | No Comments

Hello! We are so happy you found us. Are you using Sandrific in your field projects? Let us know! We would love to feature your class on the website. Here’s some information about Sandrific and how you can participate:

Our history

Sandrific is a small experimental art and science project with a big goal: to close the spaces between the physical and digital worlds.

The website began as a personal side project, and though it’s still managed by just me, it is built upon the generous sand and photography contributions from friends around the world. Using “we” and “our” better reflects this collaborative project.

Sandrific was created in 2008, and interactive maps have changed a lot since then. Online maps used to be extremely difficult to use, typically involving layers upon layers of data with cryptic legends that only made sense to data scientists.

In just a few years, map design became much more elegant, streamlined and user-friendly. Open source technology and application programming interfaces (APIs) enabled programmers to build mashups leading to creative projects such as Sandrific that display artistic or nontraditional map content. As maps became more widespread, interface design advanced as well. Today, beautiful maps are commonplace across the web.

Because mashups visualize data in unique ways, often through innovative user experiences, they give way to new learning possibilities.

What is STEAM?

Increasingly, as we talk about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, we end up with STEAM: STEM + art.

Scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians are actually much more creative than most people give them credit for. Any time you’re solving complex problems, you have to be. They just show it differently than, say, an artist; instead of visualizing an image or design, a scientist may conceptualize a formula or the steps to test a theory. A writer may work through the plot of a story in his head whereas a computer programmer may be writing software in hers.

Art and science converge in the brain more often than not, yet somehow we’ve come to believe in a strong division between the disciplines when they’re actually complementary. Strength in one area builds strength in the other. Add music to the mix, too – any activity that fosters creative thinking: imagination, conceptualization, visualization, critical analysis, curiosity, ideation, and communication?these all improve the learning of complex information.

Sandrific doesn’t assume to be anything more than it is: a map of sand. But some of us learn better by hands-on experiences and by doing. And though not everyone has the means or opportunities to travel, there is magic for everyone hidden in far away places. The world is much smaller than it appears; we hope to inspire you to explore further on your own.

Additional resources

Edutopia Titled STEM to STEAM: Art is Key to Building a Strong Economy

STEM Education Resource Center

Girls in IT: The Facts Infographic
National Center for Women & Information Technology

STEM to STEAM Initiative – Rhode Island School of Design

Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

The National Science Board

Is this website safe for kids?

Sandrific is a safe place on the web for people of all ages. Because our photos and content are curated, not crowdsourced, the website maintains a consistent voice and relevant content. We try to offer a Wikipedia-like experience and hope that you enjoy spending time here. Please stay as long as you like.

What kind of content can we send you?

Sandrific accepts photos, video, essays, and other media. You may submit content via postal mail (we can scan and digitize), email, or we can grant access to our Dropbox account to upload files.

What are some project ideas?

A great classroom example is the Croatan High School project – check out their Emerald Isle photo series and read more about how their students participated.

By sharing material on Sandrific, you and your students become digital content creators. You also get bragging rights in knowing that you are helping build and grow a resource for others to enjoy. In return, we’ll give you props on the website, and lots of love through our social media channels.

How do we prepare our sand sample?

A small handful, 2-3 ounces, for your sample is plenty. Ziploc baggies work great, preferably sent in a bubble-pack mailer to prevent punctures. If possible (though not necessary), snap a photo of the location with a newer digital camera that captures EXIF data as this will give the coordinates. If you require, we can reimburse postage with a Starbucks or Amazon gift card. Email us for the mailing address.

How long will it take to add our sand?

Sandrific is made by hand and grows slower than others. It takes time to compile each map point: photographing and cataloging the sand sample, gathering and color-correcting photos, fact-checking sources, writing location summaries, and geocoding the data. Allow a few weeks from the time your sand is received before it is added to the map.

What about copyrights and photographer credits?

Material used on this website remains the copyright of the original creators and we seek permission for every photo we use. Many of the photos we display are licensed by their creators under Creative Commons, but it is up to each photographer to designate the appropriate restrictions.

As an educator, please obtain permission on behalf of your students and indicate that we have permission to publish their photos with attribution. An email confirmation must accompany any photography or materials submitted from adults.

How is this website funded?

Sandrific is a self-funded project: there are no sponsors, advertisers or grantors. It represents hundreds of hours of donated time and effort.

Who can I contact for more information?

Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, suggestions, and ideas. If you’d like help brainstorming projects we can connect you with an education ambassador.

Betsy Kimak

Sandrific Q & A

04.27.09 | Posted in Project Updates | Comments Off on Sandrific Q & A

How do I use the map?

Click on a location in the left sidebar to see a popup for that sample. If you click on a sand photo, you can see larger photos. Click the arrows to navigate through the photo slideshows. The tabs across the top of each popup offer additional information about the location and a scale reference.

What technique do you use to photograph the sand?

So far, the best setup is my kitchen table in bright, ambient natural light. Usually about 20 photos — it takes me awhile to find the most unique qualities of each sample.

Why don’t you have more sand?

That’s a good question. It’s probably time for a vacation.

What camera do you use?

I’m using my 4-megapixel Olympus C-4000 Zoom.

Now that your laughter has subsided, let me tell you the story behind this camera. I bought it before a trip to Hawai’i in October 2003. I unboxed it on Barber’s Point Beach on my first day. Those photos on the map are the first ones I took with this camera, so it seemed natural to use it for the project. I have a couple of tiny grains permanently stuck in the lens mechanism from that trip, but it’s really rugged and it has survived some hard drops, including a smack onto the concrete in the middle of a crowd at Sam’s Town.

Can I send you some sand?

If you have some really great sand that you think should be on the map, please get in touch. I prefer sand from sources that people have direct access to (your home, your weekend drive, etc.), rather than asking people to part with sand from their collections. I know how hard that is to do?like giving up a little bit of yourself.

You asked me for some sand. How do I send it to you?

I don’t need a lot ? just enough to fill a film canister, old pill bottle or something similar. If you have a GPS unit and can send me the coordinates from where you get the sand, great; if not, write the name of the beach on the sample and make sure it doesn?t spill in the mail. If you are able to take a good photo of the area or nearby things that reflect the essence of the location, I?d be happy to include it and credit you.

Did you ever take a trip just to get sand?

Sortof, yes. But I don’t believe in being goal oriented. Life is about taking time to smell the roses and feeling the sand between your toes. My collection grows organically without timelines or expectations — beautiful surprises arise by living in the moment.

Aren’t you afraid of Pele’s wrath?

Pele is always a force to be reckoned with, but I believe I have honored her.

How is this site built?

The mashup integrates the Slimbox API and the Google Maps API. The blog is powered by WordPress.

What’s your favorite sand?

My favorite sand is that on the beach outside the door of my hotel.

What’s your baseline for white?

Nudey Beach Fontainebleau. It’s like bright-white office paper. Stunning.

How I Spent My Winter

04.08.09 | Posted in Project Updates | Comments Off on How I Spent My Winter

Finally launched a project blog. I know?*that* sure seemed to take a long time. I guess I just didn’t really have much of anything to say. But then I started thinking that might change. Probably could have done more with the theme, but hey, it is what it is.

So here’s some background.

I’ve always liked dirt. I was one of those kids who played with bugs, searched for fossils, buried things in the backyard, collected rocks, and panned for gold. I’m not a geologist, but I am a bit of a science geek who has an unhealthy relationship with sand. I suppose that?s what happens when a Florida baby is plucked from beach bliss and carried off to a geologically-fascinating, but landlocked state.

Like many people, I collect souvenir sand from my vacations. My first treasure came from Carmel during a business conference in 1997. It was my first visit back to the Pacific coast in about a decade and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the beach. It was irresistible, so I scooped up a little in a water bottle and brought it back home.

Soon thereafter, work began to take over and my vacations became fewer and farther between. I started hitting my friends and family up for sand.

I decanted their sand into pretty glass bottles and the collection began to grow. For years, I never really thought much about it. Until last fall. After a particularly busy year on a demanding project, I found myself needing some downtime. I’m crazy about geolocation and have worked with the Google Maps API for a couple of years, so I decided to combine that interest with my love of photography.

Bringing this project to life has been challenging. Early on, I ran into a technical hurdle trying to integrate the photos with the map (which I wrote about here), and fussed with a couple of scripts to get the GMap API key to work across multiple domains (that was fun, but never got around to sharing my solution.)

I was a bit unprepared for how long it would take to photograph sand, and the hours of research needed to determine where, exactly, some of my samples are actually from: it seems that my family and friends are usually more interested in having a good time on their vacations than writing down details (don’t be surprised if I send you off with baggies and a GPS unit on your next trip.)

Categorizing the sand colors was surprisingly agonizing. Should I go with tan, dark tan, taupe, wheat, brown-grey, fallow, ecru, bistre, light brown, grey, buff, beige, linen, eggshell, white, ivory, yellow, maize, saffron, peach, pink, seashell, clear, green, olive, orange-red, brick red, rust? I did my best?but if something gives you heartache, let me know. Just don’t ask me to use gray.

Over the past months, I had to sideline things a couple of times to accommodate client work — thanks for being so wonderful when timelines seemed to drift a little. I’m also grateful to my husband for encouraging me to indulge in a pet project in the first place. And of course, to everyone who has contributed sand.

Initially, I thought this would be just a little side project, but it’s become somewhat of an obsession. I plan to add new samples regularly as I obtain them.

The result is Sandrific. It’s for people who love sand.

I hope you enjoy it.