Monthly Archives: June 2013

My Hobby: Blending Things

I know I made this blog to be a teaching blog, but I’d like to throw in some other things I’m doing from time to time.  School just ended recently and one of the first things I did on a free day was play and learn more about Blender.

For those who don’t know, Blender is a free 3D computer graphics program.  Sorta like Trimble (formerly Google) Sketchup, but with animation capabilities, and way more powerful, especially in terms of materials and physics. I got hooked on Google Sketchup back when, well, it was Google Sketchup, and had a blast. I then discovered Blender and thought “oh cool, I’ll open it up and start using it just like I did with Sketchup”. Did not happen.  The learning curve is pretty steep, and I’m still learning tons of things. It’s sorta like trying to fly a jet engine when your only experience is driving cars–they’re nothing alike.

I took some time to play around with it throughout this school year, and have been having a blast ever since, when time allows. Here’s one of my most recent creations (still looks unfinished, but this is mostly just me playing around to learn more about the program).

Blender is not related to my classes at all, right?  Wrong!!  As much as I’d love to teach a class full of students how to use this program, it would be too tangential and take way too much time for me to justify, even in Physics class. However that doesn’t mean that I can’t still use this program–in fact, I have a few times to help “augment” my classes (Get it? If you don’t yet, read the articles I’m about to link, and you will.) I’ve used Blender to help Physics students better see and understand a cool video, help Chemistry students see and recognize 3D molecule shapes, and help Precalculus students get creative with making probability review problems.  Lastly, I’ve also submitted some 3D patterns to Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns website, all created using Blender (and uploaded using a cool website called Sketchfab).

I’m fortunate in that this hobby of mine has helped me in my classroom. I’m reminded of a good graduation speech by the late Steve Jobs, which I’ll add below and you should watch if you haven’t yet.

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Filed under Computer Graphics, Teaching