Pixar In a Box

Blake Harris 08.31.2015

Have you ever been watching a Pixar classic—be it Toy Story, Wall-E and Brave—and found yourself wondering: how the heck did they make this? Or better yet: how the heck can I make something like this? Well, it appears, you need not wonder any longer. Because last week, Khan Academy (a non-profit online education platform) launched something called “Pixar in a Box,” which explores and explains how the studio is able to expertly weave together art, tech and science.

Here’s an overview of the online curriculum:

As seen (and mentioned) in this short overview, Pixar themselves faces a unique set of obstacles with each film they produce. Issues like the following:

Toy StoryMonsters IncCarsInside Out

One major goal of Pixar in a Box is to encourage young minds to embrace obstacles like these by harnessing the experience of Pixar’s veteran team and leveraging the familiarity of their beloved characters.

“Learning makes us beginners again,” said Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.  “In my experience, creativity involves missteps and imperfections, which is one more reason it is important for every one of us to keep learning – in order to remain flexible and keep our brains nimble.  By working with Khan Academy on Pixar in a Box, we hope to encourage the excitement of learning and creative thinking for middle and high school students and to provide the tools to do it.”

“Our mission at Khan Academy is a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere,” said Sal Khan, Founder and CEO of the not-for-profit Khan Academy. “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. Pixar in a Box gives students a new way to engage with key academic concepts and see how creative these concepts can be.”

The first phase of this curriculum—which focuses primarily on mathematical integration—was launched online last week and includes lessons like the these:

  • How trigonometry is used to create the worlds in which Pixar stories take place.
  • How weighted averages are used to create characters, like Buzz Lightyear and Woody.
  • 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.

These resources and many more are now available free of charge at

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