How Disney’s Frozen can inspire kids to work hard in Maths…

I had the pleasure of organising and hosting a Skype video call between a friend of mine, Dan Teece, who works for Disney Animation in LA and forty children aged 10 & 11 at my son’s Primary School. Dan is a Software Engineer who has written software used to create Frozen, Wreck It Ralph and Big Hero 6 amongst many other films. The purpose of the call was for Dan to inspire these kids to work hard in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) because there are really interesting career options to look forward to. No pressure Dan! The hook of learning about Frozen clearly had the intended impact as every boy & girl from year groups 5 & 6 stayed after school to be at the session.

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Dan did an amazing job. He started by picking up his laptop, walking out of his office and doing a tour of the Disney Animation building. The kids were fascinated by the US working environment and that Dan had just arrived at work when they would soon be heading home for tea.

He then explained the software that he writes by showing a ‘white clay’ model of one of the Rango characters and colouring it in, making it really interactive & fun. He brought to life the process of making an animated film to a captivated audience and took what felt like 100’s of questions: how long does it take to render one frame? How many people were involved in making Frozen? Who is your favourite character? What were your favourite subjects at school? How do you feel when you see a completed film for the first time? What programming languages do you use? The kids also took away a homework question and correctly calculated that it would take 148 years to render the whole of Frozen on a single computer!

We also used parts of a fascinating video on how snow was modelled in Frozen:
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The kids were amazed that you could change a mathematical equation to make stickier snow balls! Check out the video here (don’t worry, we didn’t use the first minute of the film).
The girls loved that Dan had met Idina Menzel and that she’d been into the office we just saw. We finished with the kids singing an impromptu version of “Do you wanna be a snowman” and I’m sure I saw a tear in Dan’s eye. After Dan had gone we finished with the trailer of Big Hero 6.
It was a massive success and I plan to do more similar events. I would also love to hear about any similar events you’ve done or are planning.
Here’s the Thank You letter from Dave Goodchild, the teacher who helped to organise the session, which made it all worthwhile:
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