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'Cosmic' Class Helps Kids Learn 3-D Modeling ! - 4/28/2005 11:50:33 AM   

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"Cosmic Blobs" is a 3-D graphics program that is as intriguing as its name. Kids poke, pull, squeeze and mold globs of virtual clay into whatever shapes they can imagine and then animate their creations.

The software launches into the Modeling Zone, a workspace that resembles a wacky chemistry lab. Kids click on beakers and buttons that frame the workspace to control the program. Because the buttons are animated, youngsters can figure out most of them by trial and error. For children who like a more systematic approach, the program includes seven video tutorials.

Kids start by choosing a basic shape of clay from a collection of jars at the bottom of the screen. Then, they shape the blob using a variety of tools. Simple ones let youngsters poke and pull their virtual clay, and the curve drawing tools open whole new ways of manipulating their blob. By drawing a line, curve, or squiggle next to the clay, kids can push or pull the blob using the line they have cre-ated as a tool.

Rotating objects in 3-D is also very easy in this environment and necessary when trying to com-bine two or more blobs because the blobs might look connected in the 2-D view but not in 3-D.

Kids can paint and add textures or decals to their blobs. When they finish a creation, they move it to the animation lab to program it with 10 possible actions including walking, dancing and hopping.

"Cosmic Blobs" easy-to-use interface allows kids to jump right into creating 3-D objects. As kids manipulate and combine shapes to create objects they imagine, they also explore visual design that parallels what professional engineers and artists do in the real world.

Kids can download a two-day free version at

Cosmic Blobs
From Dassault Systemes,
For Windows.
Best for ages 7 to 14
.$39.99 (downloadable version) or $44.99 (CD version).

Source : USA Today

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