Khan Academy and BELL team up to help kids code

Guest post from Michael Sikora, Director of Communications at BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)


“Pick two:  Sculpture, Drawing, Team Sports, Coding, Improv Comedy, Drama, Film Appreciation.”

When the time came for Paolo to select the enrichment activities he wanted to participate in this summer, the opportunity to take a coding class jumped out at him.

“I didn’t really know anything about coding before this summer,” said Paolo. “But I wanted to try it out because I wanted to know how people made video games.”

Along with his peers at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, California, Paolo learned some of the basics of computer programming as part of his summer learning experience thanks to a collaboration between BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) and Khan Academy.

This was the first summer that students – or, “scholars” as they are recognized in BELL’s programs – encountered Khan Academy’s free coding course, Intro to JavaScript, as a summer elective.  The two nonprofit organizations are also expanding individualized learning opportunities for scholars through Khan Academy’s free math resources, based on scholars’ individual needs identified by the results of the pre-program computer adaptive assessments.

Here’s how it all works:  the school leaders and teachers who deliver BELL’s summer learning programs for scholars in grades K-8 can choose to integrate the free Khan Academy math and coding resources into their summer learning plans, based on variables such as scholar needs and technology access.  BELL provides training, instructor guides and resources (such as primers, video tutorials, and sample reports) and ongoing coaching via email and webinars. Teachers, scholars, and parents can all access the math and coding resources, and continue using them after the summer program concludes. In fact, at a site visit at Davidson, Emily Radwin, BELL’s Learning and Assessment Systems specialist, was able to hear from both scholars and staff that many scholars were choosing to work on coding projects at home and on the weekends.

The Khan Academy coding curriculum also allows scholars to work collaboratively in pairs, and has opportunities for scholars to have “free time” and use what they’ve learned to work on free-form coding projects.

“One of the most rewarding things for me is to see the class so engaged by the curriculum,” said Anne Carmin, a teacher at the Davidson Middle School. “Scholars are excited to be here.”

You read that correctly: the opportunity to learn about computer programming, while also honing their academic skills, motivates scholars and makes them excited to spend a big part of their summer – five weeks, five days per week, six hours per day - at school.

“I like that we get to try out new things each day,” said Hendy.  One of his favorite activities was creating clouds with his newfound coding skills.  Jossie agreed.  “I like that we get to try new things here at BELL. When I started with coding, I didn’t know anything about the subject.  I started asking for help, and now I really like it.”

Read more about the summer learning scene in San Rafael in this article by the Marin Independent Journal, and learn more about how the math and coding activities work in BELL’s summer learning programs.  

Have you used Khan Academy’s Intro to JavaScript curriculum? Tell us your story in the comments below!


Khan Academy in your pocket — new apps available for iPhone and now Android!


Download for Android — Google Play

Download for iPhone — App Store

“A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” This mission inspires us day in, day out, and we’ve seen over 30M students sign up on Khan Academy to learn almost anything for free. We know you love using Khan Academy more and more on your phones: in fact, over 30% of our sessions are now on mobile devices. We believe strongly that unlocking the potential for anyone, anywhere to learn on 2B+ smartphones worldwide is just getting started. Today, we’re excited to announce a couple steps toward a better Khan Academy in your pocket!

Khan Academy on Android and iPhones

Today Khan Academy is releasing our first Android app along with a redesigned iPhone app!

We built these apps to make on-the-go learning faster and easier:

- You can learn anything — for free: Over 10,000 videos and explanations at your fingertips in math, science, economics, history, and much, much more

- Quickly find what you need: Redesigned navigation and search make it faster to find what you want  

- Keep learning even when you’re offline: Bookmark your favorite content to “Your List” for easy access, and download it to keep learning even when you’re not connected to the internet.

- Pick up where you left off: Your learning syncs between your Android/iPhone and, so your progress is always up-to-date

Download them today:

Android — Google Play

iPhone — App Store

And… stay tuned in our Android beta community and our blog to be the first to know when exercises and other new features are on the way!

Khan Academy in 5 languages on iPad and iPhone

Expanding to mobile platforms is just part of our mission to bring high-quality content to learners around the globe. Today we’re excited to announce that our iPad app and new iPhone app are now available in Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Norwegian, and Turkish. Catch all the details on our international blog.


Khan Academy and Breakthrough Prize launch the Breakthrough Junior Challenge

Calling all scientists, mathematicians and filmmakers, aged 13-18! Today, in partnership with Breakthrough Prize, we are launching the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

Submit a video (at most 10 minutes) that explains a challenging and important concept or theory in mathematics, life sciences, or physics and you could win a $250,000 scholarship - with $50,000 for your teacher, and a state-of-the-art $100,000 science lab for your school.

The winner will also be invited to the televised red carpet 2016 Breakthrough Prize ceremony in Silicon Valley, where the prize will be awarded, and the winner will meet today’s superstars of science from Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

The deadline for submissions is October 7, so register today at, where you can find all the details.


Khan Academy’s Summer Surge comes to a close: Check out the results!

Back in June, I challenged the entire Khan Academy community to join me in a summer surge of learning and see how many energy points they could earn. Today, I’m excited to announce the results:


209,161 learners rose to the challenge and earned more than 50,000 energy points. For their achievements, they have been awarded the Summer Surge badge:


Big congrats to everyone who earned this badge!

Of the folks who earned the Summer Surge badge, 53,035 of them earned more than 145,878 energy points, which was my summer total. These summer superstars have been awarded the I Beat Cam badge:


Super huge congrats to everyone who beat me! Your work is both inspiring and humbling. To see whether you earned one of these badges, log in to Khan Academy, go to your profile, and click “badges.”

My summer learning goals

Two of my main objectives this summer were learning to unicycle and learning to juggle clubs. I had some struggles along the way…


…but with practice I learned both skills and even put them together for the Khan Academy talent show:


I also learned some finance and economics on Khan Academy, two subjects I’m interested in but never studied in school. It was a blast! Seriously, it’s hard to beat the thrill of truly wrapping your mind around a new concept or acquiring a new skill.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Summer Surge! What did you learn over the summer, and what are you hoping to learn in the months ahead? Let me know in the comments below!


Cam Christensen, Math Content Specialist


Pixar in a Box: the math behind the movies

Every day, learners around the world visit Khan Academy to brush up their skills and explore new subjects. Maybe you’ve studied math on Khan Academy, and maybe you’ve wondered how artists, scientists, and engineers use math to build amazing things.

To help answer that question, Khan Academy, with support from Disney, teamed up with Pixar Animation Studios to create Pixar in a Box: a free online curriculum that shows how Pixar artists use the concepts we all study in school to create their amazing movies.

Through video lessons, interactive exercises, and hands-on activities, you can learn how Pixar artists use math to solve design problems at each stage of the creative process. In particular, you’ll discover:

- How large swarms of robots in “WALL•E” were designed using combinatorics
- How a field of grass was created in “Brave” using parabolic arcs
- How simple models are transformed into realistic characters using weighted
- How animators bring characters to life with the help of animation curves
- How sets are constructed using geometric transformations
- How all of Pixar’s images are painted using simultaneous equations

But this is just the beginning. In the years ahead, we’ll explore many other subjects, including science, computer science, arts, and humanities.

We’re excited to hear your feedback so we can make Pixar in a Box even better, so let us know what you think in the comments below. We hope you’ll have as much fun exploring Pixar in a Box as we did creating it!

- Brit Cruise, Content Creator