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


Meet our Talent Search winners

Our mission at Khan Academy is a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere - but we can’t do it alone. To reach more learners and cover more subjects, we need more explainers to create more content.

That’s why we launched the Khan Academy Talent Search this May - to find great explainers and amplify their voices. About 4,000 folks submitted videos to the contest, sharing 8,000 lessons with learners around the world. The quality and creativity of these submissions blew us away!

After reviewing all the entries, we’ve selected 10 promising winners:

Dan Quinn, postdoctoral student in physics
Dara Brady, fifth-grade teacher
David Rheinstrom, editorial director at Leftside RightSide
George Zaidan, freelance science video creator
Grant Sanderson, recent graduate of Stanford University
Guillaume Riesen, doctoral student in neuroscience
James Portnow, video creator at Extra History
Sage Simhon, high school student
Sudhir Murthy, undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside
Tony St. John, chemistry professor at Western Washington University

Last week, we brought all the winners to California for an immersive workshop on creating videos and cultivating channels. These 10 incredible explainers visited the Khan Academy and YouTube teams and even took a selfie with Sal.


Sound exciting? Although this year’s Talent Search has ended, you can still help us bring more content on more subjects to learners around the world. Check out our careers page for current openings on our content team, or tell us about other YouTube channels and educational websites you think we should know about here.


College students share their experiences with Khan Academy

This spring, Stanford Consulting - a nonprofit, student-run organization - ran a survey to learn about the impact that Khan Academy has had on the educations of current college students. These students were asked whether they “found Khan Academy meaningful to their education” and whether they were the first in their family to go to college. The results are in, and today we’re excited to share some of the key findings.

Of the students who responded to the survey…

- 65% of Stanford students found KA meaningful to their education (out of 504 surveyed)
- 57% of students in other top schools* found KA meaningful to their education (out of 159 surveyed)
- 64% of first-generation college students (the first in their family to go to college) at these schools found KA meaningful to their education (out of 164 surveyed)

*Surveyed schools include Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, UC Berkeley, Caltech, Notre Dame, MIT, Vanderbilt, and Yale.

We’re thrilled to see how many college students have benefited from Khan Academy and to hear their stories. One first-generation student from Stanford shared the following note with us:

For all the times I couldn’t turn to my parents for homework help, I had Khan Academy videos to help me. Khan Academy was the private tutor that my family could not afford. For all the times I wanted to learn for the sake of learning, I would pick from the hundreds of Khan Academy videos.

Have you found Khan Academy meaningful to your education? Tell us your story in the comments below!


Can you earn more points than me this summer?

Hi, I’m Cam from Khan Academy, and I challenge you to join me for a surge of summer learning!


I can’t unicycle yet, but I’m learning. My other summer learning goals are focused around biology and economics.

No matter what you choose to learn on Khan Academy, you’ll be eligible to earn two special badges:

  • Get the Summer Surge badge by earning at least 50,000 energy points this summer.

  • Get the I Beat Cam badge by earning more points than I do this summer.

The challenge runs from the June 23rd through August 28th (official rules below). There’s no special signup to earn these badges; all you have to do is start learning now!

Not sure what you want to learn this summer? Here are three ideas:

  1. Supercharge your math skills. For example, if you’re headed into Algebra I, jump into the Algebra I mission and get started on those mission foundations (pre-requisites) to make sure you start the school year strong!

  2. Join Pamela in a Summer of Scripting! Sign up for reminders and weekly contests to help you learn JavaScript, one of the world’s most popular and important programming languages!

  3. Explore a new topic you’ve always been curious about, such as economics, finance, art history, or health and medicine. Remember: You can learn anything!

I look forward to learning alongside you this summer. You can track my summer learning progress by watching my KA profile or by following me @icamlearn on Instagram or Twitter. Let me know what you’re learning using the hashtag #KASummerSurge.

Your fellow learner,


Official rules

All points earned anytime from the very start of the day (PDT) on June 23rd to 11:59pm PDT on August 28th will count towards these badges.

Badges (described above) will be awarded only after the contest has ended. I’ll give everyone their badges on August 31st.

Who is beating me so far?

I have earned a total of 0 points so far this summer (as of June 23rd), so I imagine lots of people are beating me right now. But, remember, badges are awarded at the end of the summer (after August 28th), and you’ll only get the “I Beat Cam” badge if you earn more points than I do over the course of the entire summer.

Check back here in coming weeks to see a list of usernames that are beating me.

UPDATE (July 16th): Because so many of you have earned so many points, I’ve decided not to post a list of everyone beating me - it would fill up the entire screen! Instead, here are instructions for how to figure out if you’re beating me:

Step 1: Calculate your starting points (points earned since June 23rd).

  1. Go to your activity page (profile–>progress–>activity).
  2. Set a custom range to see your progress since the 23rd.
  3. Sum your daily energy points to find your summer earnings.
  4. Subtract your earnings from your current KA energy points to find your starting points.

Step 2: Spin of this awesome CS program and input your starting points.

Step 3: Watch the program calculate whether or not you’re beating me :-)


Official SAT Practice - now available for free exclusively on Khan Academy


Last spring we announced a partnership with the College Board to create free, world-class practice tools for the new SAT (exams begin March 2016). Today we’re excited to unveil Official SAT Practice on—making personalized SAT practice available to all students for the first time ever.

We’ve worked directly with the writers of the SAT to make sure that Official SAT Practice mirrors the actual test as closely as possible. In addition to thousands of practice questions created in partnership with the College Board, you’ll find:

- Detailed information about the redesigned SAT, including explanations of each section of the test
- Video lessons and reference articles to help you practice and review the skills tested on the SAT
- Short diagnostic quizzes to help you identify the skills you should focus on
- Personalized practice recommendations to make the biggest impact on your performance
- Four official full-length practice tests written by the College Board
- Instant feedback on your answers so that you’re always learning and seeing your progress
- Study tips and suggestions for test day.

In the months ahead, we’re excited to continue our work with the College Board to help level the playing field for all students who want to take the SAT and go to college. We’re also looking forward to receiving lots of feedback from students, parents, and teachers so that we can make our practice tools even better and more personalized for the fall.

Want to learn more? Check out Official SAT Practice, and don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments below!

Press release available here.