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Fans No Longer Have to Wait Until Summer to Experience a New Take on Pixar’s “Inside Out”

inside out 2
Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

Fans who can’t wait until this summer to experience more of the emotions, sometimes awkward feelings, and magic of Pixar’s Inside Out 2 (2024) are invited to experience a brand-new offering that’s the work of a collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and the University of Colorado.

insideu app inside out pixar animation studios university of colorado

Credit: University of Colorado at Boulder/The Crown Institute/Pixar Animation Studios/Canva

“InsideU”

Last week, the Renée Crown Wellness Institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder announced the launch of a brand-new app, the InsideU Social Emotional Learning App.

In partnership with Pixar Animation Studios, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, and digital designers Liquid Interactive, the Crown Institute designed the app as an innovative approach for helping kids learn about emotional awareness and relationships, using characters from the Pixar animated film Inside Out (2015).

inside out

Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

Four Exciting Episodes and the “Mind Worker”

When users first access the app, they’ll meet the “Mind Worker,” who acts as a guide throughout the program, helping them to understand their own emotions as they experience four different episodes: Meet the Team, Anger in Action, Emotions and the Body, and A Powerful Pause.

Inside Out

Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

In each of the four episodes, InsideU presents kids with real-world challenges and encourages them to use creative approaches in the application of social and emotional learning skills to those challenges.

The Crown Institute’s goal of creating an educational tool about emotions for children was initially inspired by Pixar’s 2015 animated film Inside Out, which depicts emotions as individual characters, each of whom lives inside the mind of young Riley and shares one main control panel that helps to create her responses to various scenarios throughout the storyline.

inside out control panel emotions

Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

Two Generations of Love For Disney Animation 

That film made quite the impact on Dr. Sam Hubley, a psychologist and researcher at the Crown Institute, who is also the grandson of Oscar-winning animation pioneer John Hubley, who worked for Walt Disney Studios decades ago on classic animated films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), and Bambi (1942).

disney bambi thumper 1942 animated movie smile happy

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Following his time at Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Hubley went on to found one of the first independent animation studios in the United States.

Recently, his grandson, the Crown Institute’s Dr. Sam Hubley, began to see a huge opportunity in bringing together the magic of animation with the precepts of science and health education.

“By combining science, health education, and brilliant animation, we have a golden opportunity to engage millions of young people to learn about their emotions and foster better relationships with others during childhood and throughout their lives,” said Dr. Hubley.

dr hubley with the incredibles figures university of colorado at boulder

Dr. Sam Hubley with Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and family/Credit: University of Colorado

Per the University of Colorado at Boulder:

Taking inspiration from Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out,” the overall goal of the Crown Institute’s InsideU is to develop and study highly engaging social and emotional learning tools that are relevant to a diverse population of children and youth.  

The Crown Institute worked directly with Pixar Animation Studios to create InsideU. This collaborative project aims to harness Pixar’s “Inside Out” potential as a powerful, entertaining, and educational tool for improving peoples’ mental and emotional wellness.    

InsideU was collaboratively designed with youth using “Inside Out”‘s unique characters and narratives that are deeply rooted in elements of evidence-based psychotherapies. Using a combination of clips from the iconic movie and interactive learning opportunities, InsideU facilitates the creative application of social and emotional learning skills to real-world dilemmas faced by elementary school-aged children.  

Inside Out

Credit: Disney/Pixar

The Development of a Pilot Version for Testing

First, a pilot version of the application needed to be designed so that it could be used with a smaller test group of children to ensure that the app would resonate with them.

To achieve this, the Crown Institute partnered with Liquid Interactive, a group of digital designers, as well as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Members from all three entities worked closely on the design of the application to develop a program that would be engaging for children.

university of colorado at boulder crown institute building

University of Colorado at Boulder’s Crown Institute/Credit: University of Colorado

Evaluations, which were carried out over the summer and fall of 2022, involved children ages six to 13 and measured various aspects of the application, such as feasibility, usability, and engagement.

“InsideU has been a huge hit for the Club members I work with,” said Julie Arbuckle, a Mental Health Team member with the Boys & Girls Club. “They are beyond excited for the next emotion lessons to come out.”

Social and Emotional Learning

One of the Crown Institute’s focus areas of study is social and emotional learning or SEL. The goal of SEL is to “improve self-awareness, social skills, and responsible decision-making.”

According to the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning or CASEL, effective programs that hone in on social and emotional learning skills can ultimately improve a child’s academic and behavioral outcomes, in addition to improving other health outcomes as well.

Inside Out 2 trailer

“Inside Out 2″/Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

An Exciting New Experience With Joy, Sadness, & the Gang

The Crown Institute wanted the InsideU app to combine clips from Pixar’s Inside Out with interactive learning and SEL skills to teach kids some of the best practices in tackling real-world scenarios that elementary school-aged children routinely face.

At Dr. Hubley’s request, the Crown Institute partnered with Liquid Interactive, the award-winning Australian strategic design company, making use of the company’s expertise in character animation, digital learning, and mental health to make the project a reality.

You can experience the fun and educational benefits of the InsideU app with your kids by clicking here, and to learn even more about the new interactive InsideU app, you can visit Colorado.edu/crowninstitute/insideu.

Inside Out 2

Credit: Disney/Pixar

And don’t miss Pixar’s Inside Out 2, which debuts in theaters on June 14.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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