Civil and Construction Engineering (CCE) is a discipline that seeks to engineer the physical world, yet students in classrooms are limited to studying and applying concepts predominantly on paper or computer screens. This paper proposes a framework for the use of augmented reality (AR) sandboxes to bring the vastness of the physical environment that characterizes the problem domains of civil and construction engineering and the students will eventually be working in, into the classroom. Because the surface of the sandbox can be intuitively fashioned to represent a scaled-down version of the wide range of terrain found in the physical world, this tool can demonstrate not just the application of classroom concepts, but even their development from first principles. A description of the AR Sandbox is provided along with the software architecture that is created to enable course delivery to meet the related learning objectives for earthwork planning. This paper presents learning CCE design and analysis concepts that are traditionally presented through diagrams to be delivered through an AR Sandbox. A framework for evaluating the effectiveness of this new mode of instruction is proposed which can inform guidelines on the implementation of novel visualization and interaction technologies in the CCE classroom. Implications of this work include use by earthwork construction teams and professional engineers where AR sandboxes can aid planning and managing large scale construction projects.