Pixar Introduces Free, Online STEAM Curriculum

Ask what my favorite movie is, and I’ll tell you without pause: Toy Story.

And I don’t just mean it’s my favorite animated movie, I mean, it’s my favorite movie, hands-down, of all time, period.

Ever since Toy Story’s release, I’ve had mad love for Pixar and the genius of their movies and short films.

Now I have even more reason to love them – Pixar has partnered with Khan Academy to introduce an innovative, online, free STEAM-focused curriculum called Pixar in a Box.

khan academy

Pixar in a Box

From Pixar:

Pixar in a Box is designed to help students answer an age old question: “why do I need to learn this stuff?” Our answer to this question is a series of interactive lessons, each of which demonstrate how a concept introduced in school is used for creative benefit at Pixar.

Although our lessons are designed and optimized for the individual learner, we are passionate about finding ways to plug Pixar in a Box into the home and classroom environment.

Not only does Pixar in a Box give movie lovers a unique behind-the-scenes perspective into how the films are made, but it gives inspiration and encouragement to students, parents, and educators interested in bringing the concepts of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) curriculum to life.

The Lessons:

Pixar in a Box breaks curriculum down into 8 topics that relate to Pixar’s actual production “pipeline” for each film:

  • Art & Story
  • Modeling
  • Rigging
  • Surfaces
  • Sets & Staging
  • Animation
  • Lighting
  • Rendering

Pixar Pipeline

Each topic is then broken down into two lessons:

  • Lesson 1 is a design-focused lesson that doesn’t require math concepts beyond the elementary level, and is most appropriate for grades 5+. The goal is to first get you creating things with interactive tools while exposing the connections to mathematics.
  • Lesson 2  dives deeper into the concepts involved. These begin with a lesson briefing which identifies grade level prerequisites and relevant Common Core State Standards. Lessons are designed to increase in difficulty so that students can attempt more advanced material.

Each lesson is designed to fit within an hour or less. Pixar has also created hands-on activities to extend the introductory lessons – one example leads students to experience parabolas through string art. Each hands-on activity includes a supply list, step-by-step instructions, and suggested variations.

Our Impression So Far:

Brit Cruise, Content Producer at Khan Academy, explained “While the first year focuses on math, future Pixar in a Box lessons will explore science, computer science, arts, and humanities.” I think that’s incredible!

I’m really loving the structure and organization at Pixar in a Box, which I think is crucial for online learning. The Learner’s Guide and Educator’s Guide break things down nicely, and each lesson has great navigating for walking students through each and every concept. There are also opportunities to ask questions in a collaborative environment with other students, and I found the discussion just as enlightening as the lessons.

I’m so excited about this new venture and how it will allow me to supplement my son’s learning in science and technology, while engaging him with some of his favorite Pixar scenes and characters.

For a thorough introduction to Pixar in a Box, check out the video below: