Common Sense Review
Updated April 2016

Khan Academy: Pixar in a Box

Great tool shows kids how math relates to creative design
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This module is part of the Website Khan Academy.
Common Sense Rating 4
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  • The home page breaks down the different animation and math topics to be covered.
  • Everything the learner does earns them points toward unlocking achievements and ranks.
  • Each page, from the videos to the assessments, can be discussed with the developers and other learners.
  • Each lesson has a built-in assessment tool to test math concepts.
  • Additional materials for each lesson include a hands-on activity that is usually paper-based.
Mark Chen
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
How Can Teachers Use It?

Pixar in a Box is a themed set of lessons on the Khan Academy platform, infused with very well-produced 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. Learners 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 assessment.

Every page in a lesson takes advantage of the web platform and allows users to comment or discuss, which makes for some very powerful collective learning. Each lesson also comes with hands-on activities, taking a constructivist approach to learning as kids make things with paper, string, pencils, and scissors. For more advanced learners (such as high school students), lessons provide deeper insights into the mathematical formulas behind the visual concepts. Teachers could easily incorporate Pixar in a Box as a self-directed unit to be done either individually (or in pairs) or as a great supplemental homework activity.

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