The event also featured a live demonstration from two of Pixar in a Box’s creators, Khan Academy content producer Brit Cruise and Pixar senior scientist and research group lead Tony DeRose. Pixar University director Elyse Klaidman presented the official unveiling and participated in Q&A, explaining that hearing from teachers at every grade level who are looking for animation-based curricula helped push the project forward.
“Many students start to lose interest in academics in middle and high school, partly because they don’t see how academic concepts relate to things they care about,” explained DeRose. “Pixar in a Box aims to address this disconnect by showing how Pixar filmmakers use these concepts for creative benefit in their everyday work.”
Starting today, the mostly math-based lessons available include:
- How combinatorics are used to create crowds, like the swarm of robots in Wall-E.
- How parabolas are used to model environments, like the forest in Brave.
- How weighted averages are used to create characters, like Buzz Lightyear and Woody.
- How linear and cubic interpolation are used to animate characters.
- How trigonometry is used to create the worlds in which Pixar stories take place.
- How simultaneous equations are used to paint all of Pixar’s images.
Cruise explained that future lessons, which will appear on Pixar in a Box as they become available, venture beyond math into science, humanities, and the arts. What will not appear is a price tag.
“Our mission at Khan Academy is a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere,” said founder Sal Khan. “Sparking student interest in math and other academic fields is a key part of that, and we’re delighted to collaborate with Pixar to achieve this goal.”