Sandscapes by Westminster is a very popular item in our store. It is a classic toy that goes back to at least the 70’s if not earlier.
The idea is that you have lost of colored sand, mostly in different shades of the same color (such as purple in the above picture) that are in the frame with a liquid (we’re not sure what, probably water if not mineral oil). Not only is the sand different shades of color but the grains also have different diameters as well! The differences in grain diameters means they will fall through the liquid at
different rates. This means that not only does the sand fall in patterns but it ends up layering itself as well due to the differing grain sizes. The lightest color grains tend to fall the slowest, but they usually end up on top of the sand pile so that when you turn the SandScape over in its frame they start falling first – and slowly. Once the lighter shade grains are out of the way the darker shades will start to fall and they will do so much faster! Despite the lighter grains’ head start the darker grains will reach the bottom much faster and the color layers effect can be seen forming.
Of course, its not all that simple. The Sandscapes also has several barriers with ‘choke points’ built in so that the sand doesn’t all fall from top to bottom. This causes the sand to catch in grooves and trickle to the bottom through the ‘choke points’. It makes for a longer lasting experience with the SandScapes.
Besides the science, SandScapes is just plain fun to watch and some folks find it very relaxing. The patterns of falling sand can be quite enjoyable, which is why SandScapes is such a popular ‘desk toy’!
We’d be remiss if we didn’t have a video of it, so here is one: