Faculty 5, Division of Earth Sciences and Geography



+49 241 80 49881





Cordula Neiberger



+49 241 80 96060




Copyright: © WiGeo DL

A supplement to Excursions and Field Trips to Make it Easier for Students to Understand Difficult Spatial References

This project, Geocaching, was supported by the Exploratory Teaching Space. Using the principle of a treasure hunt, students are led on different routes throughout the city of Aachen. Along the routes, they stop at different stations and solve various challenges and problems in order to get the GPS coordinates of the next station. The students enter their results, using the Geocaching app on a cell phone or tablet and directly receive feedback. Geocaching enables students to test their knowledge of the course material in practice.

The playful learning helps students with spatial reference, which is often difficult for students at the beginning of their studies. The concept excellently supplements excursions as well as on-site labs and internships in a number of courses involving spatial reference. Since summer 2014, Geocaching has been integrated into the Applied Geography B.Sc.

For further information, please contact Christopher Herb, Lehr- und Forschungsgebiet Wirtschaftsgeographie der Dienstleistungen


Augmented Reality Sandbox in Geomorphology

AR Sandbox Copyright: © Chair of Physical Geography and Geoecology

The Augmented Reality (AR) sandbox allows users to create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water (or lava) flow. Special kinetic sand is used since it has properties that allow it to be shaped into different geomorphological landforms such as meanders, dunes or volcanoes. As users move the sand to change the topography, the camera perceives the movements, and the projected elevation color map and contour lines change in real time. Among other things, this helps users develop a better understanding of water flow dynamics in catchment areas.
Furthermore, the topographic maps offer users the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of contour lines. Changes on slopes for example, can lead to formation of spurs, channels and other features and their appearance in the contour lines can be studied.

The AR Sandbox at the Chair of Physical Geography and Geoecology consists of a 100 x 75 x 20 cm sandbox filled with 80 kg kinetic sand. The surface of the sand is scanned with a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera with an infrared sensor. The data is processed in a NIVIDA Geforce GTX 1070 to create a real-time dynamic topography map which is projected back onto the real sand, using a projector. The open-source software used by the AR Sandbox was developed at the W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES) of UC Davis and runs in a Linux environment.

Examples of videos which were produced by students in the course Augmented Reality in Geomorphology (winter semester 2018/19) can be seen on YouTube.

For further information, please contact Dr. Georg Stauch, Chair of Physical Geography and Geoecology


Augmented Reality Sandbox in Structural Geology and Geological Mapping

In addition to the AR Sandbox developed at the Chair of Physical Geography and Geoecology, the Department of Computational Geoscience and Reservoir Engineering designed an AR Sandbox specifically for teaching structural geology and geological mapping.

Play Video
Augmented Reality - Geology Sandbox 2

As shown in the video, a geological map from a 3 dimensional geological model and the topography of the sand surface is calculated and projected back onto the sand in real time. In this way, students can explore the relationship between the underground geology and the open rock layers on the surface, while shaping and changing the surface with their own hands.

For further information, please contact Professor Florian Wellmann, Department of Computational Geoscience and Reservoir Engineering.


NRW Digital Fellowship Project "Fit for 'Big Data': Interactive Programming for Geoscientists"


Programming is hard. This is the general view of students in many of the geoscience courses. However, the rapidly growing availability of large amounts of data in the geosciences demands efficient processing . This is true during university studies, in research and increasingly in the workplace.

“Meet students where they are”: According to this guiding principle, this project seeks to develop a learning and programming platform in which (a) the barriers for students are reduced by a step-by-step introduction to interactive programming methods, (b) students have the opportunity to work together directly on projects through cloud computing.

The important innovation aspect is that the latest innovations in “Jupyter Notebooks” are specially adapted and optimized to teach students the meaning and potential of scientific programming in a playful way.

This project is a continuation of previously developed BL concepts based on Jupyter notebooks, which were funded in an ETS project (ETS256) and have since been successfully implemented in several courses in the department. These include Numerical Reservoir Engineering, Geostatistics, Structural Geology and Geothermics.

For further information, please contact Professor Florian Wellmann, Department of Computational Geoscience and Reservoir Engineering.