Friday, January 22, 2010

Blender 3d Animation: Math Applied.

Ok class, today we make 3d models using Blender.  Open the program and see a square, no maybe it's a cube.  Let's see, can we view it from the top, how about the front or the right.  Let's see if we can orbit around the cube.  Let's add a circle. No, we need a sphere.  Which axes can we rotate the object around.  How about the Z axes.  If we scale the sphere do we need to double it?

At first glance Blender an open source 3d modeling and animation program seemed complicated and beyond my grasp.  But with help from youtube and Blender tutorials, I began to understand the basics of the interface and the power Blender has for teaching many skills including artistic concepts, 3d visualization, animation and math.  With a brief introducation students began beginner 3d modeling.  You can view student Beginner Blender examples at my  teachers web site.

Soon after my first lessons in Blender, I found 8th grade students needed to understand math concepts or they had trouble creating objects.   For example when you scale on object, how big should you scale it?  Double, triple the size.  When you rotate objects, which axes to you rotate it on x,y or z? How about dividing the object into parts. What surface or face should we move? Should we keep the object on this plane or move it to a parallel plane.  Dimensions can be a real key when you are drawing objects.

Students naturally picked up these concepts the more they created.  I loved that they applied math concepts.  I wonder if math lesson plans using blender have been created?  Teach the concept and then apply it using blender.  I couldn't find any as I  searched on google.  By having students model in 3d we were applying and reinforcing basic concepts making math relevant, authentic and engaging.  I would love to see more students modeling, but also applying many math concepts as they create.  Did I mention, that Blender is an open source program, which means free to use and run on both mac and pc.

So if anybody knows any Blender math lesson plans let me know.  Or better yet, maybe someday I will have time to create.  In the mean time, the students and I keep on learning.  Can't wait to learn about physics with I learn about rigging and making things move.  Any physics teachers use Blender?

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