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An In-Depth Look at Pixar in a Box ~ #Cars3 #Cars3Event

Pixar Box Khan Academy

For those of you that don’t know, Pixar in a Box is a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. This collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy is sponsored by Disney. A lesson plan full of really cool information. I’m embarrassed to admit that before I was invited by Disney to come to San Francisco for the #Cars3Event and Pixar presentations, I didn’t know as much about it as I thought I did. For one thing I didn’t realize it was free. More importantly I never considered a middle school child using Pixar in a Box for all the things they can use it. Do they consider themselves an artist? They can learn about all the things they can do with that talent at Pixar. They can learn about careers they didn’t even realize existed. They can learn how the subjects they are learning in school – like math, science, computer sciences and humanities – are used every day to create amazing movies at Pixar. The next time your child tells you they want to be an animator so that cruddy math or science grade doesn’t matter – you can tell him/her how wrong they are. Sign them up for this program and let them see for themselves how those subjects are used! Imagine you or your child finding a new career – one that you may not even have known existed!

Through the lessons plans, you and/or your child will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. The set-up seems easy to follow along with and I love you can jump from area to area easily.


Back in 2015, Pixar joined forces with Khan Academy to launch a free online course about animation called “Pixar in a Box.” Through interactive exercises, your child (and you) can analyze what goes into creating a story – the plot, world, and characters in films, and start developing storytelling superpowers and animation interests.

The themed set of lessons are infused with videos and web-based interactive widgets to help kids get excited about and visualize the math behind some of Disney’s biggest animated features. Each lesson comes with an introductory video that explains math concepts such as using parabolic curves to model grass or using weighted averages to translate clay sculptures into 3D computer models. The student can then play around with tools based on the real tools that Pixar animators use and are given the opportunity to test their knowledge through built-in assessments.

Right up there with being an astronaut or the President, there’s one job that your average kid would probably love to snag: Working at Pixar. Pixar in a Box focuses on real-Pixar-world applications of concepts you might usually encounter in the classroom. There’s no need to register for the course, nor a requirement to watch the lessons in order — just head to their site and start exploring!

Pixar in a Box is free on Khan Academy, so don’t be shy about checking it out. New lessons will be released as time goes on and you can sign up with Khan Academy to receive email alerts when new lessons become available.

We were given a step by step walk through of the lesson categories and plans by Elyse Klaidman, Director of Exhibitions and Educational Parnterships and Tony DeRose, a Senior Scientist and lead of the Research Group at Pixar Animation Studios. I came away thinking that even in my sixties, I would really love to go through the lessons. It’s a really neat way to learn something new and when learning is fun (what else would you expect from Pixar!) I know I was always able to learn better. Also, because you can easily skip from area to area and only focus on the lessons that really spark your interest. What could be better than  initiatives to help make math, science, and engineering education more inspiring and relevant for middle and high school students. This collaboration with Khan Academy is designed to show students how creative challenges at Pixar are addressed using concepts that they’re learning in classrooms. What a great program!

Here’s a look at Cars 3 coming in June. Just imagine how the creators of this great upcoming film were able to learn what they do using lessons like the ones offered through Pixar in a Box!



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CARS 3 opens in theaters everywhere on June 16th!

I was provided an all expense trip to San Francisco by Disney. All opinions are my own.

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