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Blender at Red Hat High

13

breakfast kopie.JPG[By Jason "Groo" van Gumster (Fweeb)]

Last month (July 9-15) in Raleigh, North Carolina, Red Hat held a summer tech camp for 52 rising 8th and 9th-grade students. At this camp, students could choose to learn how to use open source software in one of four tracks: web design, video, audio, and 3D modeling/animation. Blender was the application of choice for the 3D track. While students in the other three tracks were instructed by Red Hat employees, the 14 students in the 3D course were taught by three blenderheads who volunteered from the community: Jonathan Williamson (mr_bomb), Jeffery McGregor (Enzoblue), and Jason "Groo" van Gumster (Fweeb).

Over the course of 5 days, the students were exposed to concepts and techniques in 3D modeling and animation using Blender. The first two days were purely instructional; walking the students through Blender's interface with tutorials on hard body and organic modeling. On the third day, the students were set loose on their own individual projects. Since they only had the lab for 3 hours each day, the expectation was that the students would model a small, relatively simple scene. Amazingly, they met and actually exceded these expectations with over half of the class completing short animations. And they weren't just simple object animations; quite a few used advanced features like the armature system, particles, and even soft bodies. It was truly impressive work and it is online now (links below).

The purpose of Red Hat High is to get students, especially from under-represented groups like women and minorities, interested in science and technology at an early age. With the students that attended in this first pilot year, all indications point to a great success. And the best part about this program is that since all of the tracks used open source software, the students can continue to feed their interest and learn more even after the camp is over. Hopefully with this year's success, there will be another Red Hat High next year and the years following. There's even talk that in a few years, there may be similar programs in China, India, Brazil and Eastern Europe. This is definitely an exciting time for open source software.

And yes, the 'Blender course' was the most popular track of the program. :)

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About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

13 Comments

  1. Sovereignncc-e on

    Wow, some of those movies were VERY impressive, especially coming from 8th graders who have only used the program a couple of times before! If only I had half of their artistic talent... My favorite was the one of the spaceship's exploding. The person who made that really had a good grasp of the particle system.

  2. I wish there were blender activities like this in my area (Pennsylvania=absolute nowhere lol). I guess I'll just have to stick with teh forums.

  3. Robin - How is this two months old if it isn't even September yet? And even so.. how is the age of the story relevant if it hasn't been posted here before?

  4. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm FROM Raleigh, North Carolina! I'm so bummed that I wasn't in on this! Keep me up to date on any more RTP or raleigh-durham events! It's a hop-skip and jump from my parent's house.

  5. Ok, I'm sorry I looked a little bit more at it and realised that it was done in July so forgive me. I were only 12 days wrong. Most people using Blender probably visit BlenderArtists and then there isn't any real need to post it here this late.

    But ok, I'm sorry.

  6. unsettlingsilence on

    Looks great! I start teaching Blender in my classroom in fourth grade. My goal is by sixth grade to have the kids doing art by themselves. The kids are excited by it and it really drives home Geometry. I also have some other teachers in my district that are now very interested in Blender. It is a great tool and my kids can go home and download it for themselves. I would expect more of this sort of thing in the future. It's an exciting time.

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