[Bf-education] Intro to Blender 3D class for teens

Edwin Pilobello e_pilobello at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 11 19:29:01 CEST 2011

The young girl is a student at Woodlawn Elementary School.  The after-school 
class was funded by a grant from Multnomah County with matching funds from other 
foundations.  One of the goals of the grant is to retain kids in school.  
Usually, I teach either a Game Maker or Lego Robotics class.  This was the first 
time I've had a request to teach Blender.  At the end of the term, all the after 
school classes (guitar, dance, drama, etc.) had a showcase.  One of my students 
showed off a car he modelled and animated while I described what he did to get 
to that point.  Afterwards I had a parent approach me wanting to know when the 
next class was going to be offered.  Her child already had a complete storyboard 
for an anime comic.  Seems the child is obcessed with this comic and does 
nothing else.  That is a child that would probably try harder to learn a "brain 
grease" course like Blender.

The week-end course I'm teaching now, is paid for by a fee of $145 per student.  
So both the parents and student have chosen this class for whatever reason.  
Mostly, the kids want to make their own video games.  Two wanted to make 
animated movies.

We started by browsing through the www.blender.org gallery.  The music video 
with live and animated scene interested a few of the students.  Big Buck Bunny 
and Sintel definitely interested the future movie makers.  The game 
makers, browsed the SIO2 and Unity3D galleries.  With their sights set, we dug 
into Blender.

I setup a three tier pyramid of wooden blocks on a table in the middle of the 
lab. The students then duplicated and moved the standard scene to build the 
model in Blender.  It's interesting that a few of the students took to quad view 
immediately while the others stayed with one view.  The students using quad got 
the tiers aligned on first try whereas the single viewers were suprised by their 
side-view mis-alignment when their scenes were spun around.  It's always very 
rewarding to observe students reach certain epiphanies.  For one, I'm going to 
paint one of the wooden blocks with red, blue and green sides.  It would have 
helped answer the question, "Why is the blue always pointing up while the red 
and green switch when I press (numpad) 1 and 3?"

"Press 7.  Now what happened?".  "I lost the blue!"  We go through this a few 
rounds and still no "Aha" moment.  Grab one of the other kids to explain it and 
he says exactly the same thing I had been explaining.  Behold the power of 
peer-to-peer!  The kid "get's it" from another kid but not from all my efforts.

I love it when things work out!

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