How a Maker Faire Can Boost your Makerspace

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The first visit to Maker Faire NY, if you are a makerspace supervisor can be quite overwhelming. Trust me OVERWHELMING INDEED. Everything strikes your attention and becomes a must-have. In time, your heartbeat becomes normal again and you can start to focus again. Hopefully, you will be able to keep focused and make the most strategic decisions for your space. MFNY’18 offered a world of options, activities and special experiential workshops. So, here we listed a few suggestions to help you rise to the challenge.


Have a Plan

Set your main areas of interest and focus on them, but ALWAYS keep your community in mind. What worked well for us this weekend was checking the innovative fast prototyping machines (3D, CNC, and laser). Visiting the Solidworks booth we learned about their new app for kids and how to set a classroom environment.

Get inspired by the drop-in stations

We are often involved in delivering maker activities to large groups at the entrance level. Make sure you take a lot of photos, get your hands dirty, and talk to organizers to learn from them the subtle tricks to make the experience just right for your audience. These stations are simple but can add value to your library activities or even more complex practices.

Think carefully about what you will take home

Buying maker kits at the fair is a unique opportunity. There is a great variety and very often the prices are inviting. That is precisely why you should think of how you will use the kits. Consider using them in stations/groups that help students better understand a concept and make sure you get kits that are both reliable and robust.

See some photos here.


Day One Maker Faire Awesomeness

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There were hundreds of people sharing their work. As an educator who learned to see people wondering how things could be hacked, improved, made more ethical or effective, I could not help but smile every single time I heard someone say: “…and then I thought, what if I…”. With this line I heard a group of students talk about their new product - 5 Axis Maker -A cheap plug and play CNC. They seemed sure that their invention will be very useful at makerspaces.

With the same question in mind, the New York Hall of Science team came up with a wonderful station to teach people how to use tools and collect data. They had a bunch of questions on the walls and the answers were given by using one tool. For example: to answer the question what decade were you born? Students had to measure a piece of wood, cut it using a saw and display so that the demographic of the faire will be visible.


Another station that called my attention was the soldering one. Students also had a goal for their making. They should acquire maker skills to create their own International Morse Code gadget.


Limitless learning opportunities that should put the maker faire on top of the list of any educator willing to learn about the maker movement in educational settings.

SOLIDWORKS new app for kids  brings tinkering with3D modeling to a whole new level. Their sites brings lesson plans totally integrated with the Next Generation Science Curriculum.

Another highlight was the Maker Kit Itty_Bitty_City. It brings lego closer to STEAM projects for little makers.

I am sure we will see many other beautiful resources today. Stay tuned.


Make Education Forum – Highlights

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“Making and the Future of Work”


If you are at home eager to have an overview of everything that happened at the Make Education Forum, this post is for you. The Forum aimed at spreading the word that one  important outcome for maker education is helping more students find meaningful, productive work. At this year’s Education Forum at World Maker Faire NY, a great lineup of speakers  look at how maker educators can help students navigate the future of work–a future that focuses on curiosity and innovation.Speakers and panelists provided insight into how hands-on learning experiences  develop future-forward skills and mindset.

Innovating the School Experience

Sarah Boisvert with Fab Lab Hub operates 2 Fab Labs in Santa Fe, NM and has developed Digital Badges for operators and service techs. Her work mapping what skills are needed for today’s operators and technicians point to the  realisation that 95% of the manufacturers said they are looking for people with problem-solving skills. All the work All work is documented online and accessible to those willing to master important skills for the jobs of the future.

The New Collar Workforce

At the heart of making is the belief that we have the chance to tackle the problems we are passionate about. Carlos Moreno, Co-Executive Director of Big Picture Learning, is unapologetically passionate about promoting equality. He supports schools and educational leaders who are creating high-quality, non-traditional schools.

Fostering Maker Empowerment and a Sensitivity to Design

Senior Research Manager Andrea Sachdeva from the Agency by Design (AbD) research initiative at Project Zero (Harvard Graduate School of Education) took us beyond thinking of making as a skill to be applied. She shared some relevant frameworks to help educators think of  making as an educational approach to design and instruct maker activities across the curriculum. She brought along examples far from the technical skills and offered a fresh look to making. The Project’s site is undergoing massive changes soon.

What School Makerspaces Can Learn From Co-Working Spaces

Azadeh Jamalian, the former head of Education Strategy at littleBits, is the founder of the world’s first incubator + invention hub for kids.  She got Inspired by new working environments and a their flat hierarchy to think of ways schools can promote new social + invention hub for kids to do what they dream.

Makerspaces in the Workspace

Aaron Cunningham, the global makerspace lead at Google, Leads a team of over 250 volunteers. They focus  on Google engagement and growth at over 50 makerspaces in Google offices around the world. Google encourages making as a means of driving innovation across Google. In the beginning, people would come to a google makerspace to code. Then, 3d printers were introduced to prototype products.  3d printers started to collect dust and the office understood that what makes the place are the people in them. Aaron shared his personal story – he does not have a college degree but by volunteering and working together with other makers at  a makerspaces developed in him the skills that landed him a job at Google. Aaron urged educators and people to encounter the maker movement. “…We should not worry about certificates. We need dispositions to make things happen at google.”

Connecting Students and Seniors for Real-World Problem Solving

Niti Parikh shared the process and findings from a pilot workshop offered in Spring 2018 where 6 senior community members were paired up with 6 Cornell Tech graduate students. The methodology used is fascinating and the results were interesting.

Inspiring Makers, Dreamers and Entrepreneurs

Michael Holmstrom introduced us to STEM Punks and inspires a new generation of creative and innovative thinkers. Their  eLearning programs have been developed to enable online learning of our Innovation Programs.

Solving Hard Problems in Challenging Situations

Brad Halsey of Building Momentum in Arlington, VA has applied his diverse maker skills in maker training for the Marines as well as deployments in disaster relief. Brad is a motivated scientist who thrives at leading others to develop and use technology to rapidly solve critical problems, especially in challenging, austere, and combat environments. He advocates for Problem solving being used as a tool and says that all one need to find solutions is confidence and permission. He challenged educators to throw a real challenge at the school community and he would help youth build the confidence and competence needed  to make changes.





Maker Faire NY

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Este ano, o time do CTJ Makerspace participará pela segundavez de uma das maiores feiras Maker do mundo, a Maker Faire NY.

Maker Faire NY é uma celebração de invenção, criatividade e curiosidade com o objetivo de exibir o melhor do Movimento Maker global.

Passaremos 2 dias inteiros visitando mais de 600 projetos, escolhendo dentre 26 workshops e de olhos grudados em 8 palcos, tudo com conectado com o “fazer”, focado no bem-estar social, na saúde, na tecnologia, na eletrônica, na impressão e fabricação 3D, na produção de alimentos, na robótica, na arte e muito mais!

Na véspera do evento participaremos também do Maker Education Forum, com uma programação desenhada especificamente para educadores maker de forma a promover a discussão e reflexão sobre como experiências de aprendizado ativas e mão na massa podem ajudar a desenvolver habilidades e mentalidade para o profissional do futuro. 

E vamos compartilhar com vocês, tudo o que nos encantar por lá. Fique ligado aqui e no nosso Instagram, assim você não perde nada.


Democracy Day – Teacher’s VOICE

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On the occasion of the Democracy Day, Casa Thomas Jefferson and many other BNC’s in Brazil celebrated Democracy Day. Having amazing language teachers in our community, CTJ makerspace partnered with Elizabeth Silver, an American Space English teacher to create a very rich learning experience for CTJ and public school language students.

Democracy Day Activities September 17, 2018

By Elizabeth Silver

Commemorating International Democracy Day with two classes at the Casa Thomas Jefferson Resource Center and the Makerspace was quite the experience. After consulting the International Democracy Day Toolkit from American Spaces, teams from the BNCs came together at a webinar to brainstorm activities. From this point, the program narrative was decided on and closed: MAKE A DIFFERENCE: How can we take democratic action to change the way we promote citizen participation? The event focused on introducing the principles of democracy by way of three rotating tech stations. These involved asking democracy questions to an Alexa virtual assistant, using Osmo for democracy vocabulary, and HP’s Reveal AR experience on the concepts that drive democracy. The students participated in a vote on the democratic principle they found the most relevant to their lives. The objective for the students now became producing a digital artifact related to promoting democracy. In groups, they chose one digital media genre to work with: a meme, a poster, a stop motion or a rap. The participants were students coming from a public language school and Casa Thomas Jefferson in Brasilia. They had the unique opportunity to interact and work with each other to undertake the activities put forth. They engaged readily from the beginning until the very end. The final artifact they made was both inspiring and insightful, while showing what can be accomplished in a relatively short time frame when a democratic mindset is put into play – the majority ruled while the minority was respected and heard. After some critical thinking, various contributions to the narrative came up like the realisation that your vote is your voice, that freedoms cannot be taken for granted and the importance of having informed citizens to have an informed vote. What’s more, they showed enthusiasm at learning a new digital skill that they could walk away with and share with their communities, families and friends, ultimately expanding on the idea of citizen participation via an accessible digital media. They proved themselves to be apt learners of democracy in the digital age. In the end, the impact on both the students and organizers was profound and uplifting, pointing to a future generation that is optimistic, critical and informed

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Arduino Watering System

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy, Makerspaces | No Comments

In our makerspace, we many times need to design lessons, workshops, or programs that deal with innovative tools to boost learning and interaction. One of my favorite things is to use maker kits that are easy to understand and have students creating with. However, those kits sometimes are quite expensive, especially if you are in Brazil and want to multiply active learning.  Arduinos seem to be a good choice in terms of accessibility. But, if you are just like me – an educator learning new skills in order to understand tech and use this knowledge to design your lessons -, the Arduino learning curve could be a little steep. Luckily I happen to work in a space where we learn together. So, my learning path was easier because I could partner with Angelita Torres – our Computer Engineer who is everyday improving her own teaching skills.

First things first – Start with a real challenge

We all know that we need to make sure we use our planet’s water resources more carefully if we are to survive. So, making a low-cost water system is not only appealing, but also may trigger student’s curiosity. Start a vegetable garden at school and invite teachers, makers, and students to improve it by automatizing it.

Develop internal Expertise

The resource centers at Casa Thomas Jefferson are dynamic learning environments. In April, one of the activities counted with the expertise of Larissa Goulart, who found an online tutorial, trained teachers, and delivered a session.

I made the circuit, uploaded the code, ran it and came to the conclusion that the code was not quite right to what I needed. My project needed to be adjusted, for I did not only need the pump off (soil wet) or on (soil dry). Angelita taught me that I would need to learn how to use the soil moisture sensor in the analog mode so that I would be able to adjust the pump to the correct amount of humidity my plant needed. See below the code that we wrote together. One tip: one of the sensor pins will need to go to an analog pin like A0 in the Arduino board.

See a complete tutorial and the codes here


Experiencing  the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat with Gurulino

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In June, the Casa Thomas Jefferson Makerspace went on a mission: to provide the local community of artists, teachers, and students an immersive, hands-on experience on the work of the astonishing American artist Jean Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). The team was looking for engaging ways that a makerspace could convey the relevance of the artist’s work and the historical/cultural context in which he emerged in way that would make people eager to learn and express themselves.

The best way to start was to find the right partner: Pedro “Gurulino” Sangeon, a prominent local artist, who not only took the lead in the delivery but also helped in the planning of the creative activities. The result was a mix of sensory experiences specially designed to immerse participants in the impressive work of Basquiat, and depart from the preconceived stereotyped notion of beauty. In the end, enthralled participants created their own pieces of art using a variety of techniques inspired by the “King of Remix” style.


Pedro Sangeon |

The Program

The workshops took place in the context of Basquiat’s Exhibit about the artist being held in Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) from April 21st, 2018 to July 1st, 2018. In close collaboration with the American Embassy, Casa Thomas Jefferson offered two sessions of this one-day program. The first one targeted local artists, art students and professors, and the community. The second round was specially tailored for public school teachers and students at CIL.

Storytelling – Getting to know Gurulino

Gurulino art is displayed all over Brasilia and bears a resemblance to Basquiat’s work for his use of poetry, graffiti, and varied techniques. Guru, as his numbered followers call him, started the workshop telling participants a little about his own experience as an artist. Just like Basquiat, Gurulino is not a so called grafiteiro, he is an artist who attended art school, but uses spray paint to convey his thoughts, provoke, and question the reality we face in big cities daily. In his opening talk, Guru spoke about how Basquiat’s work is misleadingly perceived as that of an “unstudied” artist and how Basquiat very skillfully and purposefully brought together a range of disparate traditions, practices, and styles to create a unique kind of visual collage.

Laser cut in an art workshop

The workshops were designed to help students stay focused as the instruction progressed. The first task was to put together a laser cut puzzle. After sharing what the painting “Boneless” made them feel, participants turned it over to discover that the puzzle was also a board map of the workshop journey. Participants were engaged in constructing knowledge together as they collaboratively accomplished tasks to unlock the ‘rooms’.




The first room – Virtual Reality in the mix

Participants took a virtual trip to Brooklyn in the eighties and explored media rich content (video, text, pictures) to start their learning journey. They were motivated to summarize what they were learning in their own words. Then, we used Kahoot, a simple “drill and practice” piece of software, to wrap up this immersive trip into Basquiat’s universe. To keep participants engaged and active, before providing the answers, participants were supposed to discuss in groups and spot the information within the materials in the virtual trip.

The first room – Virtual Reality in the mix

Participants took a virtual trip to Brooklyn in the eighties and explored media rich content (video, text, pictures) to start their learning journey. They were motivated to summarize what they were learning in their own words. Then, we used Kahoot, a simple “drill and practice” piece of software, to wrap up this immersive trip into Basquiat’s universe. To keep participants engaged and active, before providing the answers, participants were supposed to discuss in groups and spot the information within the materials in the virtual trip.


When the first room was unlocked, Guru started a series of exercises aimed at warming up participants and shifting from an I-CANNOT-DRAW state of mind to an I-CAN-DO-IT attitude.

The second room – Human Anatomy and Basquiat

At this point in the workshop, more familiar with Basquiat’s trajectory, participants received part of a skeleton to put together and customize. Each group received different types of art supplies that Basquiat used in his work to experiment with.


Unlocking the second room was once more a collaborative experience. Participants put all parts of the human skeleton together and revisited Basquiat’s work in which he used human anatomy to convey his ideas.


The third room – Questioning beauty

In the third room, participants got famous portraits and had to reassemble them in unique ways. The idea here was to question our preconceived idea of beauty. Guru also talked about the tendency of looking at art and stating likes and dislikes. According to him, this is not the approach one should take. Instead, we should build  empathy and understand the artist’s pain and ideas behind the painting.

The fourth room – The king of Remix

In the fourth room, participants had the opportunity to apply the techniques they learned, the knowledge they co-constructed and the materials available to express themselves. Surrounded by Basquiat’s paintings, the skeleton, their own drawings, and words they wrote down whenever they heard a bell, participants were ready to create their own Basquiat-inspired work of art. Moved by the artist’s roots and struggles, Guru invited participants to express their own ideas, fears, and desires.


Specially designed to engage, the workshop got extremely positive feedback and made it clear to everyone involved that makerspaces are a wonderful platform to co-design unique learning experiences.

WSP Basquiat w/ Gurulino


10 Tips to Get Your Makerspace Started

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Makerspaces are ideal places to grasp what happens when learners work directly with manipulative media- clay, scratch, circuitry, legos, movie editing apps, etc. to interact, create and share.


About the Maker Movement

The maker movement is hardly something new.  It’s been around in the U.S.  for over a decade now with big resemblances to shop classes, traditional art education, and progressive education. With an important focus on soft skills, such as collaboration, problem-solving, sharing, learning together, experimentation, and iterative processes, the making at the heart of this resurgence in educational settings is unique in many ways.

First, we need to distinguish making from Maker-Centered Learning.  In the book Maker-Centered Learning – Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds, the writers state that Maker-Centered Learning (MCL) goes beyond acquiring maker abilities (coding, digital illustrating, video making, drilling, fast prototyping, etc.) or discipline-specific knowledge and skills. It’s about building character, gaining creative confidence, knowing how to collaborate with others and being resourceful when confronted with challenges. The resurgence of making in educational settings is about opening a space in school where kids gather to create, invent, tinker, explore & discover. It’s also about having students learn from one another and create visible representations of their learning – be it a stop motion video, an animation or a game with scratch, a 3D print project, a circuit, a rocket, or a sand castle.  MCL provides people with tools and ideas to rethink educational settings. But how to start? How to harness the power of making in my classes? What tools to get? What do teaching and learning look like in these so-called MCL environments?


Tips to get your makerspace started

1. Any space can become a makerspace

Do not wait, you have lots to learn and you’d better get started. The easiest way to start making connections to the classroom is to get as many people involved as soon as possible. At Casa Thomas Jefferson, the initial approach was to bring the movement to libraries. Before the dedicated space for making –  CTJ Makerspace was inaugurated, teachers, librarians, students, and the community started experiencing with tinkering and  the idea that a school library is a place for collaboration, active learning, engagement, discovery, and surprise.

  When you start a makerspace in a library you send your community the message that the way people learn has changed, and that the school is learning together. Just find some room for a table and encourage tinkering, play, design and engineering challenges and open-ended exploration. Start with low cost and low tech challenges in a space where people feel welcome, challenged, and eager to learn how to make something of value to themselves or their community.

2. Realize early that it’s about building communities and having a maker mindset

Network, visit other makerspaces, read, share, challenge yourself to learn new abilities and be resilient. Participate in maker workshops and observe closely how the sessions are delivered and learn what teaching and learning feel like in action. Bring makers, enthusiasts, hobbyists, engineers, partners, teachers into a creative space with easy access to manipulative media. Look for partners and together find ways to offer the community a space to connect with ideas, tools, and people to fix, create, hack, and make new things. Most importantly, do it together with people who believe that the educational system needs a radical change and that we can help improve it.

3.  Remember it is about the learning experiences, not just the technology, the tools or the physical space

A makerspace can be anything from a table full of craft supplies to a space with 3D printers, laser cutters, and power tools. However, in time you will become more adventurous and willing to experiment with the possibilities of fast prototyping within educational settings. Put yourself in a position in which you will need to learn from tools, the internet, students,  experts, and community members. Again, visit educational makerspaces to learn about how educational narratives are designed, what people are making, sharing and learning. Worry about which tools and machines to get once you have become more familiar with the concept.

4.  Understand maker-centered educational roots and connections

John Dewey‘s work emphasizes learning by doing.  The philosopher understood knowledge-making as a dynamic process that unfolds as learners are engaged through reflective, iterative interaction with the practical demands and challenges of doing things in the real world. Two educational theories that connect directly to MCL are constructivism and constructionism. Jean Piaget argued that knowledge is constructed via the interaction between the learner’s conceptual schema and their experiences in the world to which these schemata are applied.  At the core of MCL activities there is a strong focus on tinkering and figuring out solutions to challenges, and both processes start with one’s own ideas and the inclination and sensitivity to opportunities to shape these ideas through direct, experiential action.

Seymour Papert, considered by many the father of the resurgence of making in educational settings, holds in his view (Constructionism) that learning happens at it’s best when learners work directly with manipulative media. Lego bricks, clay, coding apps, fast prototyping machines, or even recyclables.  Papert made clear the relationship between constructivism and constructionism, the important emphasis on making tangible projects, and the inclination to sharing what one makes with a wide audience throughout his work.

In a maker-centered classroom, facilitators encourage students to work together to solve challenges and derive inspiration from one another’s work.  Peer learning and the work of Lev Vygotsky, relates heavily to MCL, for he promoted the idea that all learning is social. His concept of proximal development is highly applicable to the variety of peer learning that happens in a maker-centered class. Although peer learning is not a new concept, it is important to note that for MCL, peer learning is crucial either because learners genuinely know a lot, or because the efficient distribution of skill-instruction requires it, especially in case you have a large group who needs to learn a maker ability in order to perform the task and the fastest way to disseminate knowledge is by having students teach one another.

MCL has strong connections with Project-Based Learning (PBL). Both MCL and PBL are interest driven, may use expert knowledge and skills, are frequently collaborative, use learning technologies from paper-and-pencil mind maps to a variety of digital and analog tools, and students are expected to create tangible products that make the learning processes visible.

But the differences are worth noting

  1. MCL might not be as well structured as PBL is. That is, for MCL, the learning experience might start with simply tinkering, opening a toy, or observing a system or product so that the inquiry questions emerge from student’s interactions with materials. MCL brings opportunities to build a maker mindset and build a tinkering attitude towards learning – a playful, failure positive way to approach challenges through direct experience, hands-on engagement, and discovery.
  2. MCL is not a well structured instructional approach as PBL is. PBL has a set of criteria which are often used to frame an entire curriculum. It might be the case with MCL, but for the most part, it weaves in and out of varied learning contexts.

5.  Create a  shared view of what MCL should look like in your school and build a bridge to your curriculum

Perhaps the best way to start implementing ideas into the classrooms informed both by progressive learning theories like John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Seymour Papert, and Lev Vygotsky and educational approaches like peer learning and PBL is to start thinking about the new words and jargon that we are using when we talk about MCL. Project Zero suggests a  symptoms-based approach to point out characteristics that suggest what qualifies as a maker-centered experience but do not strictly define what the essence is or is not. In other words, a MCL experience need not include the full set of characteristics associated with such experience to qualify as one; rather, exhibiting a majority of these characteristics in any configuration suffices. Makerspaces are ideal for asking questions, prototyping ideas and learning by doing. We take inspiration from the book Maker-Centered Learning to attempt at drafting our own definition of  MCL to guide us into designing MCL activities for our institution so that we have a single tool to validate practices, build confidence and competence, and strengthen our internal expertise.


6. Experience inspirational learning communities

7. Explore Apps and Tools for creators

8. Research, implement, reflect, tinker, and improve your practice

9. Belong, make sense, be brave, proactive, and build in yourself creative competence and confidence to make things happen

Read about CTJ Makerspace maker workshops specially designed to connect people,  foster the maker capacities of looking closely at products and systems, exploring complexities and finding opportunities to improve things around us.

10. Be generous and share your learning path.


Freedom of Press, 2018 | Collaborative Program Design

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Casa Thomas Jefferson`s Freedom of Press 2018 program is a strong case of how integrating multiple resources is the right strategy to engage people in lasting initiatives.  Partnerships of all types have made this event possible, and we at the CTJ can only thank each and every part for their involvement.

First, we would like to  thank the American Embassy for proposing such an important theme and a mission: to help engage as many people as possible in Brasilia, as well as  people in other locations in Brazil in talking about “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law” in innovative ways.

The theme is of course a concern during an election year, so it’s easy to understand why so many BNCs responded positively to the invitation of hosting programs on the theme of Freedom of Press. At the CTJ, we avidly read the TOOLKIT – package programs and links, adapted to the BNCs’ reality, and set an online Design Thinking session. During the DT session, the CTJ team shared some thoughts on how to address the theme with varied audiences and how to reach out for partners (in public universities, in the private sector, and among alumni), and introduced the idea that the BNCs should inspire and get inspired by the American Spaces network. Once warmed up, the BNCs engaged very well in a lively online brainstorming session on Padlet.

Made with Padlet


In May 2018, the BNCs offered to varied target audiences programs specially designed to promote connection, expression, exploration, and active learning. See on a Google  map an overview of the programs held at Binational Centers in Brazil on the theme of Freedom of Press. Each BNC organised an event using their own time and financial resources.


Freedom of Press | at Casa Thomas Jefferson

Casa Thomas Jefferson held several programs on the theme. The first one, on May 3rd, was a panel with undergrad journalism students and university professors. On May 8th, the CTJ Makerspace held two events. Both in the morning and in the afternoon, we welcomed public school teachers and students from CIL Samambaia. We started with a Human Library session, in which participants talked to alumni and influential people in the field.Our ‘living books’ shared their own stories related to the theme.

  • Alumna Gisele Rodrigues, from the House of Representatives, @gisele.a.r
  • Programmer and communications specialist  Apolinário Passos, @apolinariosteps
  • Lawyer with the Supreme Court Walter Moura

Students engage in active learning as they investigate ways to spot fake news.


Students practice a skill they should be already using as a habit of mind: questioning and verifying sources


The hands-on part that followed used a game designed by @midiamakersbr during a mediation that involved educators, programmers and journalists in an effort to produce cc pedagogical materials in São Paulo – once again the awesome power of collaboration played a huge role and enriched the program. The CTJ makerspace team adapted and translated one of the news checking games, and counted on the expertise of Elizabeth Silver, a highly skilled and resourceful American teacher, who works at CTJ and co-designed and delivered the program.



CTJ’s Resource Centers

Besides collaborating with the makerspace team, Wander Filho, CTJ Resource Center supervisor,  organised workshops that offered the public dynamic learning experiences on the theme in the other CTJ branches scattered around Brasilia. RCs celebrated two important dates during the month of May: World Press Freedom Day and Memorial Day  to promote literacy and digital citizenship.


Casa Thomas Jefferson Culture department in collaboration with the Embassy, invited journalists, university professors and students and the community to  a panel discussion to celebrate the theme. The event was held at CTJ`s modern and welcoming facilities and transmitted on the Embassy’s  Facebook page.

See photos of CTJ makerspace in action

CTJ - Freedom of Press : checking and validating news - May/2018

Makerspace & EFL | Unique Learning Experiences

By | 21st Century Skills, Classroom, English, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Problem Solving, STEAM Activity, Testimony | No Comments

To solve the many problems we humans are bound to face, we will need to have people who know how to collaborate and efficiently put thoughts and skills to work together to solve challenges. So, it is phenomenal when teachers see their English Teaching practice as malleable and experiment with Maker-Centered Learning [MCL] within their curriculum so as to provide youth with exciting and dynamic learning experiences. Last week, a CTJ teacher, who loves seeing teens thrive and engage in the learning process, brought her group to the school’s makerspace. Her journey underlines some of the real benefits of adopting a framework for Maker Empowerment. What you will read below is Elizabeth Silver‘s testimonial of her class. Enjoy and become part of a growing number of educators willing to experiment and identify the  benefits of MCL.


“Want to do something fun and easy with your class? This activity is adaptable to any level and can be done in both the Makerspace and/or the classroom. The challenge is to see how much weight dry spaghetti noodles can support. This idea was inspired on 5B’s Unit 9 – Engineering Wonders.  To take better advantage of the content offered here, I went looking around in the internet for something to construct with my class. I came upon these two sources:

What you need in terms of materials

  • A couple of bags of spaghetti (the cheapies will do)
  • Styrofoam boards – about 3cm thick and 1 meter long (I used one for each group, but you could cut it in half)
  • Box cutters/craft knives/utility knives (whatever you want to call them)
  • Objects to put on top of the dry spaghetti to test strength
  • Baggage hand scale to weigh objects (I happen to have this, so I made use of it. You could just estimate the weight or even use vocabulary of comparatives and superlatives to talk about the objects).
  • Optional additions are LED lights and batteries, which give the students another level of making/designing. I also had on hand markers, paper, string, toothpicks and scissors – but NO glue, which would defeat the purpose of the activity.
  • Design Thinking form – the outline for this is on the PPT. I have the students copy it down, do some pre-design thinking on the objectives, materials available, how they plan to execute their idea and their expected outcome. Here is a perfect moment to include target language. After they do the activity, they revise their forms according to their experiences. Then I have them hand it in for basic corrections and as a way to wrap up their findings, thus leading to a class discussion. I also do this to stimulate critical thinking, reflection and analysis.
  • Slides


Figuring it out

They were so engaged! They took it upon themselves to divide into groups, got the material (even asking if other Makerspace material was available for use), and spoke only in English (this time I did not have to insist on that); they cooperated, collaborated and shared ideas. The final structures were so different, showing the diversity of thought among the students. The Makerspace staff, who provided support and ideas, readily assisted them.

Developing a sensitivity to design

The result of this experience was beyond expectations. We used the Makerspace, which in itself takes your class to another level – what I like to call a ‘shift’. The idea above is not in and of itself so innovative or technological, but the dynamic that took place with my students was phenomenal.

Learning from tools and from others

At one very cool moment, two  Makerspace staff members brought out a specialised tool for cutting styrofoam and demonstrated how to use it (less mess than a box cutter). The class stood around them watching how it works, and they were in such awe that they literally let out a collective “AAAHHHH!” The word we heard the most from them during it all was “satisfying”. Summing it up, we had fun – smiling, chatting, joking, laughing. It was akin to a social event. They are begging to go back… to be continued.”

Elizabeth Silver is a teacher at CTJ since 2012 
and is always looking for different ways to 
ignite the learning spark in her students.



CTJ Makerspace at World Water Forum 8 in Brasília

By | 21st Century Skills | No Comments

Invited by Green Nation, Casa Thomas Jefferson Makerspace participated actively in the events held at GN Citizen Village in the 8th World Water Forum. The WWF is the world’s biggest water-related event and is organised by the World Water Council. Its mission is to promote awareness, build political commitment and trigger action on critical water issues at all levels, to facilitate the efficient conservation, protection, development, planning, management and use of water in all its dimensions on an environmentally sustainable basis for the benefit of all life.

This eighth edition was hosted in Brasília from March 18 to March 23, 2018. It is reported that the event brought seventy thousand visitors to the city in the first three days. Around ten thousand of the attendees were specialists who participated in the actual forum, but the majority were students and non-specialists visiting the free Citizen Village. The Forum counted on the support of  Green Nation to host experiential sessions that not only raised awareness but also created a growing movement of people who care to take action and change consumption habits.

At the Green Nation Citizen Village, CTJ Makerspace delivered four sessions that translated research into interactive experiences, appealed to people’s emotions and questioned the way we learn and the reasons we learn content matter. We offered participants two different types of experiences. The first one comprised two prototyping sessions, delivered to public school students and teachers and aimed to help them develop their creative abilities using Arduino. The CTJ Makerspace team and architect/maker/designer Lucas De Sordi helped people to understand the code behind the Arduino project – Thirsty Flamingo. The beauty of this session was that we could see families prototyping and learning together different ways to tackle everyday challenges. In the second experience, comprised two design thinking/prototyping sessions to reduce and/or recycle grey water. In these sessions two groups had the chance to build a proactive mindset as they learned about the tools, the movement of learning together to solve challenges, and the free learning opportunities awaiting them at our American Space.

Convidado pelo Green Nation,  Casa Thomas Jefferson Makerspace teve participação ativa nos eventos que ocorreram em sua Vila Cidadã da oitava edição do Fórum Mundial da Água. O Fórum é o maior evento do mundo sobre temas ligados à água. Sua missão é promover a conscientização, construir compromissos políticos e provocar ações em temas críticos relacionados à água para facilitar a sua conservação, proteção, desenvolvimento, planejamento, gestão e uso eficiente, em todas as dimensões, com base na sustentabilidade ambiental, para o benefício de toda a vida na terra.

A oitava edição do Fórum foi sediada em Brasília entre 18 e 23 de março de 2018. Relatórios indicaram que o evento trouxe 70.000 pessoas para a cidade nos três primeiros dias de conferência. Cerca de 10.000 desses visitantes são especialistas que participaram ativamente do Fórum, mas a maioria do público era de estudantes e não-especialistas que visitaram a Vila Cidadã. O Fórum contou com o apoio do Movimento Green Nation para sediar sessões experimentais que não só promoveram conscientização, mas também criaram um movimento crescente de pessoas que se importam em tomar atitudes para a mudança e mudam seus hábitos de consumo.

Na Vila Cidadã, o CTJ Makerspace realizou 4 sessões que transformaram pesquisas em experiências interativas, com apelo às emoções das pessoas, questionando a forma como aprendemos e as razões para a importância desse aprendizado. Oferecemos aos participantes dois tipos diferentes de experiências. O primeiro consistiu em duas sessões de prototipagem oferecidas a estudantes de escolas públicas e professores, e teve o objetivo de auxiliá-los no desenvolvimento de suas habilidades criativas usando Arduino. A equipe do CTJ Makerspace e o arquiteto/maker/designer Lucas De Sordi ajudaram pessoas a entender a programação do projeto de Arduino – Thirsty Flamingo. A beleza dessa sessão foi que pudemos observar famílias criando protótipos e aprendendo juntas sobre diferentes formas de combater desafios cotidianos. Na segunda experiência, dois grupos tiveram a oportunidade de construir uma mentalidade proativa em sessões de design thinking para reduzir e/ou reaproveitar “água cinzenta” (proveniente de uso doméstico), enquanto aprendiam sobre as ferramentas necessárias, o movimento de aprendizado em conjunto para solucionar desafios, e as oportunidades de aprendizado gratuitas que estão à disposição deles em nosso Espaço Americano.

CTJ - Green Nation Festival - 8º Fórum Mundial da Água

Mkaer Summit 2018

CTJ Maker Summit 2018 – A Professional Development Experience

By | American Spaces, Maker Movement, teacher training | No Comments

On the 24th of January, CTJ Makerspace held the first Maker Summit for our American Space educators. OUR ULTIMATE GOAL was for teachers to feel truly inspired and motivated to take risks in adopting a Maker mindset, that is, we wanted teachers to feel motivated to use Maker activities in the classroom, as well as to feel capable of effectively integrating them in their classes so as to boost language practice/production. We wanted the Maker Day to be a memorable collective experience and that teachers felt empowered to innovate in their classrooms and to be the drivers of positive change in our school culture.

The first step toward maker-centered education is to “teach the teachers.” And what better way for teachers to learn than by becoming students for a day? That was the idea behind the 2018 Maker Summit. Equipped with some of the latest technology, teachers had to figure out how to manipulate the likes of virtual reality apps and glasses, Osmo Words kits, stop-motion videos apps, green screening, and Design Thinking. Educators got firsthand experience of the challenges, insecurities, and benefits that their students may have with interactive, exploratory, creative learning.


After the event, the facilitating team sat together to discuss feedback from the involved teachers. Upon reflection, a series of important conclusions arose, the most important of which are:

  • It is paramount to be prepared to adapt activities in case technical issues occur, and not to let potential failures dismantle the whole project. In short: you always need a plan B!
  • In the mindset most of us were raised in and are accustomed to, it can be easy to think of discovery-driven learning as unclear and lacking in instruction, of noisy classrooms as messy or out-of-control. Therefore, it is important to keep an open mind and come to terms with the fact that learner autonomy in the classroom requires, also, that facilitators have the skills necessary to harness students’ creative energy for learning.

Overall, the 2018 CTJ Maker Summit was a valuable immersion experience for all involved parties and one that should yield fulfilling results in the near future.

See here photos of this great teacher development opportunity.

Written by Paula Cruz




16 Days of Activism

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Empreendedorismo, Projetos | No Comments

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign takes place annually between November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and December 10th (Human Rights Day). During this period, governments, civil society organizations, and individuals promote initiatives to raise public awareness of the issue of violence against women and girls. This year’s campaign theme is “From peace in the home to peace in the world: make education safe for all!”.

In close collaboration with the American Embassy, Binational Centers (BNCs) in Brazil started a planning process, seeking to join efforts and have robust programs in the 16 Days Campaign. With this aim in mind, Casa Thomas Jefferson (CTJ) delivered an online Design Thinking session to theBNCs that accepted the Embassy’s invitation. In the session, we revisited the resources provided by the post and discussed how those links and ideas could instill meaningful and interesting programs in each community.

Below are the BNCs that have taken part in the 16 Days Campaign so far:

1.     CTJ

2.     Alumni

3.     ACBEU Salvador

4.     CCBEU Sorocaba

5.     ICBEU Uberaba

6.     ICBEU Belo Horizonte

7.     ACBEU Juiz de Fora

8.     ICBEU Manaus

9.     CCBEU Franca

10.   CCBEU Tupã

11.   ICBEU Patrocinio

12.   CCBEU Guarapuava

13.   IBEU-CE

On December 4th and 7th, 2017, CTJ held a two-day program about entrepreneurship for women who run businesses. We believe that being independent is a key issue for women who suffer domestic abuse, since they often fail to break free from their aggressor because they feel emotionally or financially dependent. As an educational institution, we feel we can contribute in this aspect.  Therefore, we welcomed 20 women who have suffered some kind of domestic violence and are now assisted by the NGO SOROPTIMIST to our Innovation Hub. There, they could connect with new ideas, meet people, find a support group, and use tools that are only available for them at our American Center to help them leverage their business, figure out differentials, reflect upon their audiences, and improve communication channels.

Our two-day program started with an informal exchange of ideas, inspired by Human Library sessions. We had a successful local businesswoman, a representative from the Ministry of Human Rights, and a martial artist sharing their life stories, the challenges they have faced, and how they overcame the struggles life posed to them.

Mariangela, a Capoeira martial artist, talked about self-defense. Jordana, an entrepreneur, talked about how to run a business and differentials. And, finally, Fernanda, from the Ministry of Human Rights and an Education USA alumni, talked about programs the Ministry has on the theme of entrepreneurship.

CTJ would kindly like to thank all the women who devoted their time to inspiring our participants to take charge of their lives and build a better future for themselves and for their children.

Inspiration – Gaining Confidence and Competence

After the Human Library inspiring talks, participants were split in two large groups, and we held concurrent sessions. One group had a session facilitated by our Makerspace staff members, in which participants were exposed to products that are presented well in terms of design. We showed them how simple things like tagging and packaging add value to the products they already make and sell. Participants reflected upon how they could use these ideas to improve their own products, and then used a laser cutter to produce tags for their products. The other session focused on the principles of low cost photography. Participants were given priceless photography tips by specialist Raissa Coe (@raissacoe) and learned how to produce good images to advertise their products in social medias.


On the second day, for the first two hours, participants who had taken the laser workshop tried their hand at photography and vice versa. Then, experts from Pupila (@pupila) held a session aimed at showing participants how to put up an online store on Instagram. This helped them perceive themselves as resourceful individuals who can muster the wherewithal to change their world through making and creating – people who have an I-Can-Do-It attitude.


The day ended with a wonderful talk about mindfulness and caring for each other. Author Beatriz Schwab shared her story and talked about (the) her book – Soco na Alma. She humbly talked about her personal experience with violence in her own home – a story that is depicted in her book and has inspired a soap opera on Globo, a major national TV channel.

Casa Thomas Jefferson’s 16 Day program plan will be shared along with all the other BNCs’ so that other American Spaces can replicate or get inspired by what we have done.  We truly hope that many of the women who participated in our program do feel empowered and come back to our innovation hub for support and learning.


16 Days of Activism


Maker Activities to Boost Language Acquisition

By | Sem categoria | No Comments

Would you agree to say that nowadays many kids spend way too much time indoors consuming technology? Would you go as far as saying that all this time in front of multiple screens have few positive aspects to it? But, isn’t  it also true that  many kids who are extremely frustrated in classrooms are YouTubers, gamers, coders, or hooked on tutorials and creative play?  How might we narrow the gap and design learning experiences that are both relevant  and engaging to children who easily become bored, start squabbling and end up playing games on their smartphones?

Many schools and libraries are turning to project-based learning and redesigning the ways people interact, understand, and take part in their own learning processes. This change in the educational setting is welcome and much needed. But, we must not be naive. Kids are natural makers, and if you  give them a few tools, their imagination will do the rest. However, they will probably need to learn how to be persistent, resilient and collaborative before they engage in industrious and creative work.

One of the first lessons CTJ makerspace staff  learned after delivering maker workshops and camps is that students don’t always know what to do with maker tools like Snap Circuits or Makey Makey and might  get overwhelmed with too many choices. Many do need help unlocking their creativity and dealing with frustration as they build their maker capacities, at least at first.

So, how to engage children in meaningful, purposeful tinkering, especially if they do not speak English as their first language?

 Let  children experience maker activities.

CTJ makerspace has been offering youth in Brasilia a rich portfolio of activities. Parents may choose from 3D Printing for Kids, Coding, Super Hero Design Challenges or Goldberg Machines. Each of these activities involves kids learning how to use real tools safely, getting a mission, and collaborating to solve a challenge, using their own hands and creativity.  During our last Maker Day – Make Your Own Superhero, students were encouraged to think about challenges we face nowadays.  A skilled Casa Thomas Jefferson English teacher facilitated the session and used strategies to make sure students not only coped with the authentic language that emerged, but also participated actively and unleashed their problem solving and creativity.

 Design Challenges

During maker-centered activities, students get interested in making the project work. Sometimes the task may seem too ambitious for the short time teachers have. So plan challenges that revolve around prompts, but  still  allow students the flexibility needed to make the project their own. When students are immersed in making, there is intrinsic motivation involved, and they most likely will be eager to share what they have created. This genuine interest to talk and write about their inventions might facilitate the acquisition of the English language, for when students purposefully devote themselves to a task, they are more prone to achieving success.


Both project-based learning and maker-centered learning involve the creation of tangible products. When students are excited and engaged in the inquiry process supported by learning technologies that help them push beyond their current abilities, they become able to create a set of tangible objects that they will probably be proud of. If the teacher motivates these learners to publicly share their results, there is a great chance they will do it eagerly and produce language to their best possibilities.
Maker Day


Prototyping for Disability Rights

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Maker Movement, Makerspaces | No Comments

Casa Thomas Jefferson (CTJ) hosted  (from August 30th through October 19th) a program entitled “Educational Assistive Technology”. The program aims at prototyping for disability rights to empower youth to shape their world and effect change in their community. In this program, visually impaired and non-visually impaired students learned about fast prototyping and how they can use it to find solutions to problems that students with disabilities face. The idea is to place people with disabilities at the center of the creation of solutions, as they test and act as main players in the design process.

This innovative makeathon received financial support from The International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI). This initiative demonstrated that sound program planning can attract the interest of partners committed to improving the Educational System in Brazil and it can also provide access to minorities. INELI’s main goal is to highlight libraries and innovation hubs that create meaningful and feasible solutions to social and cultural challenges that people in Latin America face.

The program itself was divided into a planning stage and three hands-on meetings. Af first, we hosted a preparatory meeting in which visually impaired students, teachers, parents and school administrators got together for an honest conversation about the challenges of teaching the visually impaired. During the first formal meeting, facilitators conducted an ideation session to help the non-visually impaired truly understand the challenge from the viewpoint of those who face it.  At each table, one visually impaired student informed the group about what he/she finds difficult to learn and why. The beauty of the event was that each table narrowed the obstacle down to one  challenge and started ideating to solve that specific problem.

Each group had the support of a skilled facilitator. They were:

  • Marcos Roberto – social entrepreneur and founder of Meviro
  • Fast prototyping specialists from 3Eixos
  • Luciana Eller – student and designer
  • Ana Cristina Alves – therapist and Universidade de Brasília professor

On September 28th, participants brought the first prototypes and the visually impaired tested and provided feedback on their usability. Based on this input, the whole group worked on finding better solutions, using laser cutters, 3d printers, arduinos, etc. – all the tools available at the makerspace. On October 19th, participants should return for the last meeting. Until then, they are welcome to  use CTJ’s  learning hub space to embetter their creations.

Casa Thomas Jefferson believes that running programs that place youth at the center and give them opportunity to think collaboratively and to use tools and resources for a meaningful purpose is what defines our spirit.

All the assistive solutions created by participants, using modern prototyping tools will be shared online soon.

Educational Assistive Technology with CIL 2 - Day 1


Galaxy of Oppotunities :: Galáxia de Oportunidades

By | Design THinking, Empreendedorismo, Evento, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Sem categoria, Startups | No Comments

A traditional classroom, an open space, or even the school playground could be a perfect fit to a simple, engaging, and life changing learning opportunity.  On August 30th, CTJ Makerspace offered 30 students from Universidade de Brasília access to tools and expertise that are often beyond the scope of traditional learning environments. We offered participants of the Galaxy of Opportunities 2017 a simple, yet engaging experience, aimed at encouraging STEM and  instilling a sense of leadership and opportunity in those who may be future leaders. We carefully delivered a session specially designed to offer an ambience for creativity, collaboration, sharing of ideas, and access to digital and analog prototyping tools.

The session was divided in three parts: discovery, inspiration, and prototyping. In the beginning, participants learned about the maker movement and startups that use makerspaces around the globe to create and develop their products. In the second part, Rodrigo Franco, cofounder of 3Eixos, a company that was born inside CTJ American Space spoke about the advantages of using our makerspace to boost their business. Also, we talked about Meviro, and how being a partner has helped it build a sound assistive technology makeathon methodology. In the last part, participants experienced design thinking to conceive their own startups and used some of the tools available at the space to prototype their products. It was an inspiring session that got very good feedback from participants and organizers.

Galáxia de Oportunidades

Sessão de design thinking durante o workshop “Makerspace : o kick-off da sua jornada empreendedora”, para os participantes do evento Galáxia de Oportunidades 2017.

Uma sala de aula tradicional, um espaço aberto, ou mesmo o pátio da escola, poderiam ser perfeitos para oferecer uma oportunidade de aprendizagem simples, envolvente e, até mesmo, de mudança de vida. Em 30 de agosto, o CTJ Makerspace ofereceu a 30 alunos da Universidade de Brasília ferramentas e conhecimento que muitas vezes estão além do seu alcance nos ambientes tradicionais de aprendizagem. Oferecemos aos participantes do evento Galáxia de Oportunidades 2017 uma experiência simples, mas envolvente, com o objetivo de encorajaro uso de habilidades STEM e instilar um senso de liderança e oportunidade naqueles que podem ser futuros líderes. Ministramos uma sessão especialmente concebida com carinho para proporcionar naquelas 2 horas um ambiente de criatividade, colaboração, compartilhamento de ideias e acesso a ferramentas de prototipagem digital e analógica.

A sessão foi dividida em três partes: descoberta, inspiração e prototipagem. No início, os participantes aprenderam sobre o movimento do fazer e ouviram as histórias de startups que usam makerspaces em todo o mundo para criar e desenvolver seus produtos. Na segunda parte, Rodrigo Franco, co-fundador da 3Eixos, uma empresa que nasceu dentro do CTJ American Space, falou sobre as vantagens de usar nosso espaço para incrementar seus negócios. Além disso, falamos também sobre a Meviro, e como ser um parceiro do CTJ Makerspace ajudou a construir uma metodologia para desenho de oficinas de cocriação e prototipagem de tecnologias assistivas. Na última parte, os participantes experimentaram uma sessão rápida de design thinking para conceber suas próprias startups e usaram algumas das ferramentas disponíveis no nosso espaço para prototipar seus produtos. Foi uma sessão inspiradora que obteve bons comentários dos participantes e dos organizadores.


ACCESS Maker Camp

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy, English, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Sem categoria | One Comment

Imagine a place where youth learn about new skills, tools, and opportunities, a place where there is room for creativity and genuine intrinsic motivation, a place where learning a skill may lead to learning a competence that could influence the way you perceive yourself and your role in society. Such places exist, and are growing in numbers in Brazil. On July 3rd and 4th, CTJ Makerspace, in close collaboration with the American Embassy in Brasilia, had the pleasure to host a two-day Maker Camp for 30 extraordinary English Access Micro-scholarship Program students. The Access Maker Camp was specially designed to promote experiential learning opportunities for participants and teachers. For two days, thirty students from all over Brazil and three American interns participated in maker activities and experiences that may lead to their building a growth mindset and becoming more responsible for their own educational and professional prospect.


Inspirational Talk

Day one started with a brief talk about flexible learning environments and the educational system in Brazil, and about connecting with ideas and worthy information on the web. Participants discussed how schools are still trapped in a model that perceives learners as passive consumers, and how access to information may give them a chance to be more prepared to change that. We shared some valuable links and resources that may help youth become more digitally literate and have a voice or even come up with solutions for challenges in their communities.


In small groups, all participants attended five experiential stations.

  • Circuit Board  challenges
  • Strawbees
  • Goldberg Machine
  • Cardboard brain teasers

The goal was to have participants feel the thrill of learning by making and notice how simple materials can be repurposed into exciting learning prompts. Once the hands-on part of the activity was over, we opened a discussion on what they learned while engaged in each of the tasks. Many participants told us that they had learned how to listen to their peers and how to collaborate in order to succeed – precious soft skills to acquire. Participants also talked about how they could use what they had learned to improve schools or libraries in their communities.

Workshops – laser cutting and making circuit boards

Participants were divided into groups and attended two workshops. In a world surrounded by design, it is almost unconceivable that students go through high school without pondering what design is or even learning how to use image editors to convey powerful messages. The laser cutter workshop started with participants learning how to prepare files and use features in an image editor. They were told that all we need to do in order to learn something new is to be willing, do our best and learn from our mistakes. The second session gave participants the chance to make the circuit boards they had used during the showcase so that they understood how they work. Knowing how things work and becoming sensitive to design may promote understanding that the designed systems and objects are malleable, leading learners to become active agents of change. When asked what they had learned, one student said that he understood that sharing what you learn with your community strengthens everyone.

Human Library

For the Human Library session we invited two extraordinary women who had a very important message to give: we are responsible for our own future. Teresa Pires, a well known designer and entrepreneur, talked about her experience as a public school student, how lost she was as a teenager, and how her passion helped her understand what made sense for her professional life. Teresa opened her own instagram store and she teaches people how to bind books. She also told the kids about learning to use technology, available at CTJ Makerspace, to improve her business outreach, and shared her new Youtube Channel. Angelita Torres, a computational science grad and outstanding member of CTJ Makerspace team, inspired youth and told them about her experience as a girl in the STEAM field, where the vast majority is male students. We had a vivid exchange of ideas in English as participants were given the task to find three things Angelita and Teresa had in common. To wrap the two days of hard and, at the same time, pleasant work, Access students were asked to take a picture of something they found interesting and post it on their social media. You can relish what these smart eager learners had to say here.
Read about Human Libraries in American Spaces here


ACCESS Maker Camp


Bibliotecas CTJ em abril | Resource Centers in April

By | American Spaces, Clubes, Programação | No Comments

In April, resource Centers  delivered engaging programs to enrich patron’s experiences. Not only our students, but also the local community had the chance of participating in STEAM activities, Earth Day Themed Programs, Book Clubs, The Human Library initiative, and Education USA talks. We address important issues and believe that people engage best by being active participants. Check some of the activities below:

Earth Day -Recycled Pencil Case and key ring - Environmental issues were addressed and participants were invited to a DYI session to repurpose plastic.

Book Club - Patrons heard music played live by the American Exchange Student Regina Stroncek. Then,  the musician and her colleague Christina Chabe talked to participants about their experiences in libraries in the US. They talked specifically about Book Clubs and invited everyone to take part in CTJ`s Book Club initiative.  Teachers are enthusiastic about the new club; a good example of engagement was  Vitor Hugo, who sang to participants and enticed more people to take part in this American Cultural treasure.

STEAM Activities - 3D Painting, Chemistry in Bubbles, and Synesthesia Experiment were some of the activities chosen by the RC staff in Lago Sul, Aguas Claras and Sudoeste.

Bibliotecas Casa Thomas Jefferson em março

Dia da terra – Em abril, celebramos o dia da terra com uma atividade mão na massa para exemplificar o reciclar para a garotada. Utilizamos bandejas de isopor usadas e fizemos lindos chaveiros. É uma atividade simples e consciente. Basta desenhar com uma caneta permanente no tamanho da bandeja de isopor, levar para assar uns 2 minutos e voilà. O chaveiro fica durinho e reduzido em tamanho, tornando fácil o furo com uma parafusadeira. O resultado é ótimo e pode ser feito com molde de desenho ou desenho livre. Eles levaram para casa o chaveiro, a lição de reciclagem e o sorriso.

Clube da Leitura - Nessa atividade os alunos e frequentadores do Resource Center puderam apreciar o som de músicas líricas interpretadas pela intercambista americana Regina Stroncek, que, juntamente com sua colega Christina Chabeli, compartilhou sua vivência em bibliotecas nos EUA e dividiu experiências com o objetivo de introduzir o tema do clube de leitura. No sábado seguinte, contamos com a presença do professor Vitor Hugo que cantou músicas para atrair o público na intenção de divulgar a data do próximo encontro do Book Club, bem como a escolha do livro. No último dia 13, presenciamos a empolgação dos participantes ao compartilharem em inglês suas impressões a respeito do enredo e personagens do livro escolhido, “The Phantom of the Opera”. Outros frequentadores presentes foram contagiados com a animação e mergulharam também na aventura do próximo Book Club! Essa atividade consiste no debate sobre as opiniões e impressões de cada leitor. É uma forma descontraída de praticar o uso da língua inglesa. Os encontros acontecem quinzenalmente, aos sábados de manhã.

3D Painting - Com um pouco de cola, espuma de barbear e corante é possível soltar a imaginação e criar lindas pinturas em 3D. Quando a mistura seca, ela gruda no papel e é possível sentir a textura em alto relevo – uma forma diferente de fazer arte e desenvolver a criatividade dos alunos.  A atividade foi um sucesso entre os alunos de 3 a 14 anos. Ao final, fizemos uma exposição dos trabalhos e eles puderam levar para casa sua obra prima.

Bubbles - Bolhas são mágicas! Com a ajuda da química é possível fazer as bolhas de sabão ficarem mais resistentes e demorarem mais para evaporar, adicionando glucose à fórmula e fazendo a camada externa da bolha ficar mais espessa. Com algumas ferramentas como varetas de barbantes,  construídas pelos alunos, ou um pedaço de feltro, foi possível fazer bolhas gigantes e até quicá-las.

Synesthesia – Realizamos duas atividades super legais ligados à sinestesia. O primeiro foi o estetoscópio caseiro, feito de material reciclável, onde eles puderam ouvir os batimentos cardíacos. Os alunos adoraram ouvir os batimentos cardíacos um do outro e ficaram curiosos para fazer o estetoscópio e levar para casa. Nossa outra atividade foi o Disco que toca no crânio. Foi sensacional! Usando um protetor de ouvidos, um disco de vinil e um palito de hashi com uma agulha na ponta preso ao maxilar, os alunos conseguiram ouvir uma música. A música pode ser ouvida, pois temos a audição óssea desenvolvida nas têmporas. Quando acionamos a moléculas do ar, o som estimula a vibração do ouvido que, em contato com as têmporas, estimula essa audição. Muitos  pais curtiram essa experiência super envolvente.

Biblioteca Humana - A Human Library é um movimento internacional que promove uma forma inclusiva de desafiar o preconceito e os esteriótipos através do contato social. Atualmente, este evento é realizado em mais de 60 países. A Human Library promove o encontro e o contato entre as pessoas. São conversas abertas e honestas que podem levar a uma maior aceitação, tolerância e a coesão social nas comunidades. São pessoas reais, em conversas reais, em um ambiente seguro e acolhedor, que facilita o diálogo. É um lugar e um momento onde é permitido fazer perguntas difíceis de maneira respeitosa. Essas perguntas são esperadas, apreciadas e respondidas. Nossos convidados e convidadas são chamados de Living Books, pois assim como em uma biblioteca, um leitor ou visitante da Human Library pode escolher um Livro para ler. A diferença é que os Livros são pessoas reais e a leitura é uma conversa. Na dinâmica da Human Library, as pessoas sentam em grupos de até seis pessoas, com rodadas de diálogo com a duração de aproximadamente 20 minutos. A ideia é que os grupos troquem de mesa a cada ciclo.

A agenda de equidade de gênero é um dos objetivos estratégicos da Thomas. E não por acaso, a primeira edição da CTJ Human Library priorizou a fala de mulheres convidadas a compartilharem suas experiências. Ouvimos Nanauí Amorós evidenciar como ainda hoje o machismo torna difícil mulheres estudarem e trabalharem no campo da tecnologia. Também ouvimos as experiências de Rose de Paula e como seu espírito aventureiro moldou seu futuro profissional na diplomacia brasileira. Conhecemos a história de Ana Paula M. G. e como sua experiência de voluntariado do outro lado do oceano Atlântico se tornou uma poderosa ferramenta de empatia. E finalmente ouvimos o depoimento marcante de Catherine Taliaferro Cox e como uma experiência na infância pode moldar o caráter e os valores de uma pessoa.



Glowing firefly- vector illustration

Enriching Teacher XP | Professor Fazedor

By | Digital Literacy, English, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Português, Sem categoria | No Comments

The first makerspace in a binational center in Brazil, CTJ Makerspace, has one main goal: we aim at bringing the library into the 21st century – teaching multiple literacies through print and digital content. With the support of a dedicated staff, we are always more than happy to help teachers use pieces of technology to enrich their lessons. A good example of this practice is how the English teacher Lucia Carneiro learned how to use an image editor (Adobe Illustrator) to create unique learning experiences for her learners.

Our librarian and makerspace supervisor, Soraya Lacerda, helped Lúcia use technology to get creative and design an innovative storytelling session. Students participated in the telling as the teacher projected characters on the ceiling using a flashlight and cutout bugs. Lucia also took to class a template of a firefly, facilitated a session in which students made the bug light up, and recorded their singing the song “Fireflies” (OwlCity) while playing with their creations. As a result, students were very enthusiastic about their production and families realized how creative her lessons are.

EFL Learning | Maker XP 

A Casa Thomas Jefferson é um centro de excelência acadêmica muito comprometido com o treinamento de professores. O CTJ Makerspace é um local onde educadores buscam novas vivências e se aproximam de tecnologias para enriquecer suas práticas de sala de aula. Um bom exemplo disso foi o aprendizado da professora Lúcia Carneiro no makerspace esse semestre. Ela veio ao espaço e com ajuda da bibliotecária e supervisora, Soraya Lacerda, pensou em duas atividades para os seus alunos. Lúcia usou a plotter de corte para criar stencils que, usados com uma lanterna, projetaram imagens no teto. As alunos participaram ativamente de uma contação de história bastante inusitada que trazia vida ao vocabulário estudado. Lúcia também usou o makerspace para criar os templates  que os alunos combinaram com bateria botão e LEDs para construir vagalumes. Ao final da atividade, os alunos cantaram a música “Fireflies” (OwlCity) e gravaram um video que foi encaminhado aos pais. Lúcia, intrinsicamente motivada, aprendeu uma habilidade, adaptou ao seu contexto, encantou seus alunos e compartilhou o seu conhecimento com colegas. Pontos fortes de um DNA maker de profissional do século 21.  



Human Library |Biblioteca Humana

By | American Spaces, Cultural, English, Evento | No Comments

Modern American Spaces are lively physical venues that promote honest conversations about relevant topics. There are simple and effective ways to deliver programs that promote social engagement and, at Casa Thomas Jefferson, Library Supervisor Wander Filho keeps his eyes open for these opportunities. He understands the need for meaningful engagement, and got inspired by the Human Library – a global movement that helps build understanding of diversity by providing a framework for real conversations about important issues. Their site brings clear guidelines to help facilitators promote open and honest conversations that can lead to greater acceptance, tolerance and social cohesion in the community.  In April 2017, CTJ used this innovative approach to challenge stereotypes through non confrontational and friendly conversations. Surrounded by inspiring pieces of art at CTJ`s Art Gallery, guest speakers, representing varied social and ethnic backgrounds, were available to participants. It was a unique learning experience for all involved, as it gave voice to different groups and supported a greater understanding of diversity and social cohesion. Among the topics discussed: women in pursue of a career in STEAM, strategies to overcome intolerance, engaging in volunteer work, Traveling to the U.S, etc.


A Human Library é um movimento internacional que promove uma forma inclusiva de desafiar o preconceito e os esteriótipos através do contato social. Atualmente é realizado em mais de 60 países. A Human Library promove o encontro e o contato entre as pessoas. São conversas abertas e honestas que podem levar a uma maior aceitação, tolerância e a coesão social nas comunidades. Pessoas reais, em conversas reais, em um ambiente seguro, acolhedor e que facilite o diálogo. Um lugar e momento onde seja permitido fazer perguntas difíceis de maneira respeitosa. Um lugar onde essas perguntas são esperadas, apreciadas e respondidas.

Nossos convidados e convidadas são chamados de Living Books, pois assim como em uma biblioteca, um leitor ou visitante da Human Library pode escolher um Livro para ler. A diferença é que os Livros são pessoas reais e leitura é uma conversa.

Na dinâmica da Human Library, as pessoas sentam em grupos de até seis pessoas, com rodadas de diálogo com a duração de aproximadamente 20 minutos. A ideia é que os grupos troquem de mesa a cada ciclo.

 A agenda de equidade de gênero é um dos objetivos estratégicos da Thomas. E não por acaso, a primeira edição da CTJ Human Library priorizou a fala de mulheres convidadas a compartilharem suas experiências. Ouvimos Nanauí Amorós evidenciar como ainda hoje o machismo torna difícil mulheres estudarem e trabalharem no campo da tecnologia. Também ouvimos as experiências de Rose de Paula e como seu espírito aventureiro moldou seu futuro profissional na diplomacia brasileira. Conhecemos a história de Ana Paula M. G. e como sua experiência de voluntariado do outro lado do oceano Atlântico se tornou uma poderosa ferramenta de empatia. E finalmente ouvimos o depoimento marcante de Catherine Taliaferro Cox e como uma experiência na infância pode moldar o caráter e os valores de uma pessoa.


Human Library


Maker Fieldtrips

By | American Spaces, Evento, Makerspaces, Português, Projetos, Sem categoria, Smithsonian | No Comments

Equipado com impressora 3D, plotters, cortadora a laser e máquinas de costura, o espaço do fazer da CTJ oferece para a comunidade a possibilidade de se encantar por uma tecnologia, aprender uma habilidade digital e/ou manual, criar um projeto e se conectar com pessoas e ideias inovadoras. Jovens que frequentam espaços de aprendizagem maker, muito comum nos Estados Unidos, desenvolvem a confiança, aprendem a colaborar, ser resilientes e desenvolvem uma atitude positiva ao enfrentar desafios.

Por esse motivo, oferecemos a todos os  alunos da Casa Thomas Jefferson um  fieldtrip ao makerspace para que se tornem parte da nossa crescente comunidade de pequenos fazedores. Nossos fieldtrips acontecem mensalmente e proporcionam experiências únicas de aprendizagem na língua inglesa. No mês de maio, alunos do Lago Sul e da Asa Sul tiveram uma tarde muito animada repleta de desafios. Construímos Máquinas de Rube Goldberg, aparatos que são muito conhecidos e cultuados nos Estados Unidos. Elas já foram imortalizadas em selos, viraram título de livros, têm centenas de páginas temáticas na internet e há anos são tema de competições de grande porte com direito a transmissão pela TV em cadeia nacional.

O desafio da tarde era o de criar em grupos a mais estapafúrdia e trabalhosa  maneira de realizar a tarefa básica de fazer uma bolinha cair  de cima de uma caixa para um alvo no chão. O desafio extra era o de construir um circuito simples com módulos de Littlebits para iniciar todo o processo. A construção das máquinas durante os fieldtrips foi um meio nada convencional, mas muito eficiente, de levar os estudantes aos infinitos caminhos da imaginação, criatividade e do pensamento intuitivo.

Consulte aqui a nossa programação mensal e participe.



Making My First Robot | Meu Primeiro Robô

By | English, Evento, Maker Movement, Português, Programação, Sem categoria | No Comments

3D printed parts, wires, batteries, switches, servo motors, sensors, and arduinos were all electronic components that were tinkered with to help kids make their first robots. There’s no better way to get introduced to arduino than seeing how they bring  objects to life. Using simple construction tools and electronic components,  children who came to our 3D Printing for Kids Workshop  put together their OTTOS - interactive robots that can dance, walk, make sounds, and avoid obstacles. Otto causes a wow effect at first glance. The idea came from a parent, a cellphone app developer who wanted to give his kid this amazing learning experience,  brought for us the idea,. He told us he wanted his kid to be curious, passionate and eager to learn new things.

What are the qualities we value in this activity?

Science and Art Connection

As you build your first OTTO,  you understand how it works from the inside, make  basic circuits and have an overview of what an Arduino is and what it does. In addition to playing around with scientific content, children learned how to be patient and resilient, which are important skills to learn nowadays.

What is the personal View of an educator on this maker activity?

Isadora was my English as a Foreign Language Student when she was five. At the time, I taught her the numbers, the alphabet, names of objects. Now 12, she shows up at CTJmakerspace for the OSMO with the same curious eyes and smiley face. As one of the facilitators in the session, I could see her start developing her maker identity. I saw her developing  a I can do it attitude that might lead her to an understanding of what she can do and what dispositions she might have when interacting and making a tangible objects. Isadora is a lucky kid for having supporting parents who understand the c\value of rich and varied education. We hope more and more kids will too.

Peças impressas, fios, baterias, interruptores,  motores, sensores, buzzers e Arduinos foram os componentes eletrônicos usados na nossa oficina Monte seu Próprio Robô. Não há melhor maneira de ver pela primeira vez conceitos básicos de Arduino (plataforma de prototipagem eletrônica) do que ver como eles trazem objetos à vida.

Usando ferramentas de construção simples e componentes eletrônicos,  jovens montaram  seus OTTOS - robôs interativos que podem dançar, andar, fazer sons e evitar obstáculos. A ideia da oficina nasceu de uma conversa com um pai que gostaria e engajar o filho em uma atividade maker, mas não conseguia motivá-lo. “Fazer o projeto em um grupo com o apoio de facilitadores em um ambiente de estímulo a criatividade fez toda a diferença” , nos disse o pai ao final da sessão.

O que  valorizamos nesta atividade?

Conexões de Ciência e Arte Construir o robô com as próprias mãos, fazer circuitos básicos e ter uma visão geral do que um Arduino é e o que ele faz, são algumas das habilidades que os jovens aprenderam. Além de ver na prática o  conteúdo científico, os jovens aprenderam a ser pacientes e persistentes, habilidades importantes para aprender hoje em dia.

Conexão do Mundo Real

Montar seu próprio OTTO do zero ajudou os adolescentes a entender os princípios básicos de Arduino e como podem usar linhas de código simples para mudar o comportamento do robô. Este conhecimento pode ajudá-los a entender que quando investimos tempo em um projeto, o erro deve ser  visto como parte do processo se  forem persistentes e resilientes e que eles podem fazer muito mais com tecnologia do que apenas consumi-la.

Jovens felizes e pais encantados nos deram excelente feedback. Uma das mães nos mandou a seguinte mensagem: A Isadora leva o Otto a toda parte e fala feliz que o fez sozinha. Ela está curiosa e quer muito aprender mais sobre Arduino e programação.

Making My Fist Robot


Mother’s Day | Dia das Mães

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Dia das Mães Maker


De todos os presentes que compramos para nossas mães, nossa presença é provavelmente o presente mais importante e desejável. Para estimular o fazer e o estar juntos, o Makerspace da Casa Thomas Jefferson presenteou filhos e filhas com a possibilidade de construir, aprender e co-criar o seu presente junto com quem mais importa. Mães, filhos e o time da CTJ  parafusaram madeira, lixaram e montaram a parte elétrica para fazer a base da luminária. Depois, a parte criativa: aprender conceitos básicos de Adobe llustrator (software de edição de imagem) para criar o design e cortar na laser.

Veja alguns dos projetos feitos aqui



Star Light, Star Bright, First Star I See Tonight.

By | 21st Century Skills, Smithsonian | No Comments

Star Light, Star Bright, First Star I See Tonight.

In this STEAM project, children from 8 to 15 years old studied constellations and learned about simple electrical connections using LED’s. We used a video from Smithsonian Institute about stars to inspire them to research the constellations. After that, kids had to choose a constellation to begin the project. The suggestion was for them to work in groups, but they worked in pairs mostly. We suggested this configuration because we wanted to motivate collaborative work. And it worked just fine, since they organized their work very well. We had five sessions of thirty minutes to finish the project. In the first session, the children watched the video, chose a constellation and painted the cardboard. In the second sessions, they the holes, inserted the LED’s and identified positive and negative parts. During the third and fourth sessions, students connected and welded the wires to the LED’s. In the fifth session, we placed the on/off button and the charger to power the project. When the project was complete, we had an exhibition. The kids were really excited about the project. They called their parents and friends to come and see the exhibition. All steps, from choosing the constellations, painting the sky background and connecting the wires were made by them with the guidance of the Resource Center staff. Although it was a long project, they had lots of fun with us.




Bibliotecas CTJ em Março | Resource Centers in March

By | American Spaces, Programação, Projetos, Sem categoria | 6 Comments

In March, our makerspace and all six libraries scattered around Brasilia held engaging STEAM programs that revolved around American ingenuity and aimed at motivating participants to deepen their interest and curiosity to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Patrons and members of the community come to the our libraries to be inspired, learn new skills and have experiences that they don’t have access to anywhere else other than CTJ American Space.

Our main branch Resource Center, besides all the daily routines, offered two simple, yet engaging programs in March. The first one celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day and engaged participants in a series of English Learning tasks. More than 250 participants learned about Saint Patrick’s history, how this date is celebrated in the U.S., and made delicious green waffles. The second activity involved short stories. We launched this ongoing activity with an intriguing story of a boy who got a dog that had only one leg. Discussion was led that questioned our understanding of empathy, civil rights and the challenges people with disabilities face.

In our Asa Norte and Lago Sul branches, learning took place by the means of two STEAM experiments – the Electric Pendulum and the Electron Detector. In the first activity, English language learners were exposed to extra-curricular activities that made them realize the existence of magnetic fields. 85 youth came to the library to be surprised, explore and learn. We also had simple activities to promote the English Language that counted with massive participation of motivated young minds. Patrons made a very exquisite mix and created 3D pieces of art with it. We also had Rube Goldberg Machines and the revival of the CTJ Book Club.  In Taguatinga, CTJ staff members organized a lively session on augmented reality. At Casa Thomas Jefferson, learning is a holistic and captivating experience.

No mês de março, alunos, pais e comunidade em geral participaram de atividades que estimularam a criatividade, colaboração e aprendizado interdisciplinar para celebrar datas importantes, aprender aspectos culturais e enriquecer o aprendizado da língua Inglesa. 

Saint Patrick‘s Day - Para celebrar Saint Patrick‘s Day, o RC da Asa Sul criou uma gincana com ligue as piadas, complete o texto e responda ao quiz. Como prêmio, fizemos um waffle colorido e os alunos participaram em peso. 

Short Stories Animated - Nossos alunos e membros do Resource Center tiveram momentos de reflexão e de fortes emoções nas sessões de Short Stories que aconteceram no RC da Asa Sul. A primeira sessão aconteceu antes do início das aulas para os frequentadores do RC. Utilizamos um curta que mostrava um jovem ganhando um cachorro que não tinha uma pata para estimular a reflexão sobre pessoas com necessidades especiais. Convidamos também diferentes turmas e escolhemos curtas dentro do que estava sendo trabalhado pelos professores. Esta atividade será mantida e novos assuntos serão abordados. O intuito é manter o Short Stories sempre alinhado à procura dos professores e do interesse dos frequentadores.

Electric Pendulum - Nessa atividade, os participantes perceberam a existência do campo magnético e puderam diferenciar as cargas elétricas e verificar a relação entre cargas opostas e idênticas.  Ao abrir uma raquete elétrica e identificar os fios positivo/negativo, os frequentadores fizeram conexões que permitiram criar um pêndulo elétrico “eterno”. Foi uma experiência singular e todos gostaram muito da atividade. Tivemos 85 participantes. Alguns professores também trouxeram suas turmas.

Electron’s Detector – Os participantes puderam fazer a transferência de carga elétrica do próprio corpo para um balão e retransmitir esta carga para uma esfera feita com papel laminado e assim perceber o comportamento dos elétrons de cargas iguais. Foram 71 os envolvidos diretamente na execução desta atividade.

Sistema Hidráulico –  A partir de um guindaste hidráulico produzido dentro do Resource Center, nossos usuários puderam entender de forma prática o seu funcionamento. E para tornar o aprendizado ainda mais divertido os 94 participantes tiveram um desafio a cumprir e aqueles que conseguiram em menor tempo foram para o ranking entre os desafiados.

3D Paint - Nossos jovens cientistas fizeram um experimento com espuma de barbear, cola branca e corante alimentício para fazer uma pintura tridimensional.

Rube Goldberg Machine – Os alunos construíram uma máquina de reação em cadeia. Com material reciclável, uma caixa de papelão e muita fita adesiva, os alunos colocaram a mão na massa e testaram várias hipóteses até alcançarem o objetivo.

CTJ Book Club - O Book Club é uma atividade dedicada às pessoas que gostam de ler, ouvir interpretações diferentes, conhecer novas pessoas e ainda aprimorar o conhecimento na língua inglesa. O Book Club proporciona um ambiente descontraído e harmonioso entre pessoas das mais diversas faixas etárias, perfis e níveis de conhecimento da língua.

Make Things Come Alive  – Em Taguatinga, jovens aprenderam conceitos de costura de cadernos e se encantaram com as capas de realidade aumentada.


Strengthening Public School learning Experience

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Makerspaces | No Comments

There are many makerspaces in the world and many of them have something in common: Educators emphasize the importance of building maker competence and confidence. In the book Maker Centered Learning, the authors mention that educators involved with the Maker Pedagogy take a special interest in competence and confidence building and how these  character traits foster a tinkering disposition. People who make projects in makerspaces often become comfortable with the natural uncertainty of the tinkering process and become more willing to work in a project that involves content that they might have seen only in theory.

Maker centered competence and confidence may support the development of a tinkering disposition specifically but can also be seeing as building blocks for a wide variety of other dispositions. For example, as a result of the development of competence and confidence— and depending on the particular maker activities a student engages in— a student might develop a carpenter’s disposition, an entrepreneur’s disposition, or a hybrid disposition that draws on a combination of any number of maker competencies. Also, Students and educators  learn  to be patient, to recognize how their limitations guide them through the making process, to collaborate, to work with their peers, to respect the material and the tools, and to develop a sense of common, shared projects.

On Monday, May 15th CTJ Makerspace welcomed Unb – Brasilia`s  federal University scholars and public school students who take part in the initiative Catavento – a project that aims at promoting discussion and awareness of the consumption and production of renewable energy. CTJ makerspace staff members understood that engaging these students and educators in a maker centered activity would  help them build a maker mindset, practice English, and learn that they can use our collaborative platform to hang out, learn new skills, connect with people and ideas and become independent learners.

When students arrived, they were given a tour and we showed them all the free machine training workshops we offer the community (3D printers, laser cutter, plotter and sewing machines). After that,  they learned about simple circuit building thought LittleBits challenges. Then, students learned what a Goldberg machine is and started collaborating to build their own. Throughout the program CTJ staff members felt the thrill of  witnessing once more  what the book aforementioned advocates  as the most important benefits of a maker centered activity. Create opportunities for a mindset change, and consequently,  foster an I can do it attitude that is crucial to anyone who is involved in collaborative projects that aim at promoting the soft skills necessary to become  active agents of change.



Be the Change You Want to See in Educational Settings

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy, English, Maker Movement, Sem categoria | No Comments

We invite you to consider the following questions:

  • What kinds of challenges will people face in 5 years?
  • What kinds of skills will people need to face these challenges?
  • How do educators and parents who believe in maker centered learning get prepared to foster a I-can-do-it attitude in young people?
  • How to develop a sensitivity to design and understand learning as experiences that should prepare people for the challenged that will appear before them in the future?

Perhaps the answer to the last question should be:  develop soft skills in ourselves first. In other words, educators should be the first to feel encouraged to notice opportunities to build, tinker, hack and design learning artifacts and systems in a ever changing world.

With this premise in mind, we designed and delivered two Librarian Training sessions 2017. The idea revolved around the fact that we strongly believe people, educators included, need to become sensitive to opportunities to activate their sense of maker empowerment.

On our first meeting, Casa Thomas Jefferson’s Resource Center team was invited  to think about what their patrons’ needs and interests are and how to design programs to cater for those needs. Then, the whole Resource Center team revisited what Casa Thomas Jefferson’s mission is and started writing the Resource Center very own mission statement.

For the second meeting, Resource Center staff members came to CTJ makerspace and got their hands dirty; we revisited the mission they created as a group and learned a new skill – we learned the technical part of using a plotter machine, but we had a purpose in mind: The team learned how to use the machine to make the mission statement visually appealing to everyone who visit our Resource Centers.

All in all, the two sessions worked on a maker skill as a secondary aim, for the most important learning outcome was to build confidence and build a maker mindset. As a result, we  have a shared vision as what a dynamic learning center is. Now it’s much easier to plan programs that engage people with ideas and tools to foster learning in the  21st Century.

Building Internal Expertise


Maker Centered Learning in Resource Centers

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Maker Movement, Makerspaces | No Comments

In 2012, much was said and heard about the maker movement. Discussion about the benefits of making tangible or digital objects for pedagogical purposes abounded. Maker learning environment ranging from traditional classrooms to public libraries, museums, galleries, and even the halls of the White House drew lots of attention. Among the narratives to back this exponential growth some resonated well with Bi-National Centers: Creating dynamic learning environment where people could find opportunities to engage in innovative  programming, develop a sense of agency, and be inspired by projects, people and ideas.

In sync with the primary benefits of maker centered learning, all six resource centers at Casa Thomas Jefferson, offer monthly extra-curricular leaning opportunities with a focus on participants as content creators. In February, we had three of these activities: Blind Date With a Book, Read and Share, and Draw words.

Blind Date With a Book – To celebrate Valentine’s Day,  librarians selected and made available books. The catch was that people had to give the book a chance and could not judge it by its cover, for the book was wrapped up as a Valentine’s gift.



Larissa Goulart

Resource Center – Casa Thomas Jefferson Asa Sul

Read and Share - Reading is something magical and worth sharing. Librarians  encouraged participants to share their reading experience and asked them to make a video about their favorite part.

Larissa Goulart

Resource Center –  Casa Thomas Jefferson Asa Sul


Draw from Words - Participants had the change  to learn new English words and recycle the words they already knew. Participants also had the chance to use their  creative potential and develop spatial / visual intelligence. 

Thaíse Nogueira

Resource Center  - Casa Thomas Jefferson Águas Claras


Strengthening BNC Network

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy, English, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Sem categoria, Smithsonian | No Comments

Brazil is a country with nearly 50 American Spaces, mostly comprised of independent Binational Centers. BNCs,  well-regarded institutions in their communities for the seriousness of their education, and for the wide cultural programs they offer. Not surprisingly, BNCs easily understood the need to redesign libraries to provide  people with collaborative learning experiences. Aiming at strengthening Brazil’s Binational Center network, The American Embassy worked in close collaboration with Casa Thomas Jefferson  to implement The Achieving 21st Century Skills Project –  a Mission Brazil American Spaces education initiative.

Now on its third phase, 27  BNCs work together to design program plans so that BNCs can do more than teach English, offer cultural programs, provide EducationUSA services, open a library, and conduct alumni activities. BNCs  are  opening to the local community innovative learning hubs to engage people with topics related to social entrepreneurship, and enable them to inspire and be inspired by new ideas, people, skills,  and tools.

From 20 to 24th of March, 22 participants from eight different  regions in the state of São Paulo (Campinas, São José dos Campos, Taubaté, Sorocaba, São Paulo, Franca, Lins, Tupã, and Ribeirão Preto) met to learn new skills, plan strategic programs, fast prototype and learn new concepts and ideas to help them better design and deliver innovative program plans.  Glauco Paiva and André Vidal, local makers with great expertise to share, inspired teachers, administrative staff,  and librarians to challenge their own mindset and raise awareness on topics such as how to foster human centered learning, inspire change and connect people and ideas to promote social change. During the training, participants learned about design thinking, innovation tools, best outreach programming practices, the maker movement, and best reporting practices. To enrich the sessions, participants were engaged in hands on maker centered learning activities aimed at opening facilitators` minds and enabling them to design and  host pedagogically sound, effective programs in their own institutions. The session ignited collaboration and a sense of shared vision that will linger and create a positive effect in the BNC network.

BNCs  Educational sessions


Augmented Reality and Wildlife Conservation

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy, English, Maker Movement, Sem categoria | No Comments

In March, 2017, 30 youth participants came to Casa Thomas Jefferson Taguatinga  to have a quite unique English learning experience. Participants made a customized sketchbook with an augmented reality cover. In the beginning of this program, we  talked to participants about encouraging environmental protection (such as wildlife conservation or response to climate change). We explored the concept of augmented reality and told participants they would make a sketchbook.

We used the app Floresta sem fim (Faber Castell) that  depicts Brazilian wildlife species and engaged participants with hands on activities. We had 30 youth participants eagerly working and practicing the English language out of the classroom through making a tangible object.



Thomas Griggs visita Centro Interescolar de Línguas

By | American Spaces, Sem categoria | No Comments

A Casa Thomas Jefferson e a Griggs International Academy trazem aos alunos de qualquer escola regular a possibilidade de cursar o High School Americano.​ O programa Thomas Griggs complementa os estudos dos alunos do Ensino Médio para que possam obter, além do diploma do Ensino Médio brasileiro, um diploma de High School, sem a necessidade de estudar fora. Os alunos estudam matérias do currículo norte-americano e desenvolvem o inglês com a excelência já reconhecida da Thomas. Além das disciplinas US History, US Government, British Literature, American Literature, Computer Education, Health e Fine Arts, os alunos também participam de atividades guiadas de Community Service.

Em 10 de março de 2017, 18 alunos do programa tiveram a oportunidade de trabalhar lado a lado com 18 alunos do Centro Interescolar de Línguas 2 (CIL 2). Em parceria, participaram de atividades que visam o desenvolvimento de competências socio-emocionais, como resiliência, cooperação e liderança. Os alunos interagiram durante duas horas para criar pequenos robôs desenhistas, utilizando material reclável e o kits de eletrônica modular (LittleBits). Um dois maiores benefícios desse intercâmbio foi ampliar os horizontes dos dois grupos de alunos, estimular o pensamento criativo para chegar a soluções em conjunto e compartilhar conhecimento interdisciplinar. A parceria do CTJ Makerspace e do CIL já é consolidada. Agradecemos o engajamento da equipe do CIL 2 (Patrick Ramon, Karina Torres e Silvânia Monteiro) e da equipe da Casa Thomas Jefferson.


Thomas Griggs


Thomas Griggs at “Centro Interescolar de Línguas”

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Sem categoria | No Comments

Thomas Griggs

The binational Center Casa Thomas Jefferson has a program called Thomas Griggs  aimed at preparing youth to become eligible to American High School certification. Students take complementary lessons on US History, US Government, British and American Literature, Computer Education, Health e Fine Arts. Also, students get prepared for Community Service.

CTJ Makerspace

CTJ has an innovation hub that offers students and people in the community unique and innovative english language learning experiences. We designed a program to promote collaboration between Thomas Griggs students during community hours and public school students.

Innovative English Language Programming

In March, 2017, 20 Thomas Griggs students did community hours at Centro Interescolar de Línguas. The program brought a challenge: create a drawing bot out of recyclables and Littlebits. In the first part of the workshop, students learned about American Spaces and the learning opportunities available for them at CTJ`s makerspace. Then, they were introduced to Littlebits and used their creativity to make their bots work. When this experiencial part of the session was over, students reflected upon what they had learned and how they could facilitate a similar session for 30 CIL students. Then, each Griggs student became a facilitator of a small group, and collaboration and genuine exchange of ideas abounded.  One of the highlights of this maker workshop was when the first projects came to live and participants started believing in their ability to make their project work. Soon enough the school was buzzing with excitement and learning. All CIL school community and Griggs students were invited to CTJ Makerspace for more free learning opportunities (to laser cut, 3D print, and use design software).

Thomas Griggs


Access Students at CTJ Makerspace

By | Classroom, Digital Literacy, English, Evento, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Sem categoria, Smithsonian | No Comments

The English Access Micro scholarship Program (Access) provides a foundation of English language skills to youth ranging from  13 to 20 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors. The program makes available  after-school classes and intensive sessions in well known language institutions.  Access gives participants English skills that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects and Casa Thomas Jefferson is always careful with the design of the lessons and material choice so that access students are offered the best teaching practices.

On November 11th, 60 access students came to our makerspace and our staff  provided them with learning opportunities  specially designed  to “fulfill the human desire to make things”. Our team used years of teaching experience aligned with the knowledge we have gained making our space to design activities for our access students. During the sessions, students worked in groups and had to perform three tasks. The underlining assumption in each of the tasks was that success in a knowledge society is not about knowledge alone. Learning environments  must focus on building a culture of innovation, beginning by creating a foundation for lifelong learning. All the activities motivated collaboration and  provided students with digital and analog tools to support learning practices that inspire such culture.




Green Nation Fest

By | American Spaces, English, Maker Movement, Projetos, Sem categoria | No Comments

On November 24th, 2016, Rio de Janeiro hosted  at Museu do Amanhã and Pier Mauá The Green Nation Fest to raise awareness of the impact humans have caused. But the festival did more than that; It actually promoted  the new approach Cradle to Cradle – The Way We Make Things.

The main goal of the festival was to make ordinary people, organizations, and business sensitive to the challenges our planet faces today and take action to create feasible alternatives. Through sensory installations, presentations by national and international experts, workshops, and panels, the festival opened room for reflection on what we consume, what business models we want to support, and what our options are if we are committed to both reducing our carbon footprint and having a positive impact on the planet. The festival showed  that innovation must be part of everyday business and life, and that it is only  worth it if it helps people strengthen connections and deepen health and environment.

The main themes of the 2016 event revolved around environmental preservation, water scarcity in the world, recycling, climate change, self-sustainable  fashion industry and more. This year it offered several attractions; Programming was divided into Circular Economy, Entrepreneurship to Overcome environmental challenges, and Innovation for Sustainability. This edition also included workshops on co-creation, a multimedia festival and an International Film Festival with films about sustainability in the daily life of big cities, and of course maker workshops.

Because the mission of the festival is closely tied to the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Rio, CTJ was invited to host a series of maker workshops that combined technology, innovation and construction of knowledge. Our narrative started with two installations created by our partner Glauco Paiva, a very prolific and generous maker.

Participants got their hands dirty in the construction of automatas. We were very impressed by two things; First, how some people completely freeze when they are asked to make something functional. We heard over and over the phrases: I can not make anything; I am not creative at all; I have no clue how to start. We gave examples, worked together, motivated, and got every single person to at least try creating something, accept failure as a growing path, and be more positive regarding  their creative processes. Second, how participants  were eager to be offered a more experiential approach to learning. People who came to 0ne of our sessions learned that they can learn by doing  in a collaborative environment.

See more in the video below










“Maker Day with CIL – Prototyping for Disability Rights”

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Projetos | One Comment

As it happens to any living organism on the planet, some days are just better than others. When you get the chance to collaborate with great people to make dreams come true, motivate young people to learn technologies that can help others, and experience the power of a flexible learning space, its not just any other day at the office. It`s magical.  The history of the fight for the rights of people with disabilities is considerably new. However, nowadays we have some important advances in this area. At CIL 2, a public language teaching institution, there is a great community of people with disabilities – especially those who are visually impaired. CIL has become reference in Teaching English as a Second Language to blind people in Brasília. Despite their expertise, the students still face accessibility problems and lack of assistive technology. Casa Thomas Jefferson proposed to expand CIL’s reach by sharing its makerspace and hosting a program in which CIL staff and students had the opportunity to work alongside experts on fast prototyping. Participants learned how this kind of technology can be used to their own advantage in solving challenges faced by people with disabilities at their school.

The program 

“On Friday, September 23, in observation of “the Maker Week for Human Rights and Tolerance,” Casa Thomas Jefferson Asa Norte held a program for 20 public high school students and  3 students with a visual impairment.  All  students came from CIL 2 – Centro Interescolar de Línguas de Brasília  to collaborate, learn English,  and connect design with social change. Participants worked in teams, first interviewing the visually-impaired student to learn about some of the day to day challenges his or her disability presented, and then brainstormed ways to overcome these challenges.  Finally, they used CTJ’s Makerspace to draft up a design or prototype of their solution.

As a warmer, participants watched the trailer “Great Fight for Disability Rights”, which  documents the making of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to put themselves in the shoes of the visually impaired. The head teachers, who spoke only in English with students, used design thinking techniques to engage participants in creating empathy towards the difficulties visually impaired people face, and spot  challenges that could be overcome with a special type of assistive technology.  Students were divided into five groups of four; on each table there was either a visually impaired person or someone who could report from experience.  Participants easily identified with the topic, for CIL 2 has a strong community of people with disabilities.  At CIL there is a specialist who personally provides visually impaired students with sound learning strategies; Daniele Alves de Lemos was instrumental to the program, for she provided CTJ staff and facilitators with important pedagogical tips. Participants worked in teams, interviewing each other to learn about the challenges they face. At this point, visually impaired participants were eager to share their experiences, and participants brainstormed ways to overcome the challenges. The makerspace was bursting with discovery and creativity as students  learned about  manual and fast prototyping, practiced English, connected art and design with social change, and learned about digital artifact creation.


The partners 

The program counted on the support of valuable partners. They were: Four facilitators from 3Eixos, a company founded by students from UnB – the local federal university, who worked against the clock to guarantee participants designed feasible projects; Patrick Ramon, CIL 2 supervisor, who was extremely enthusiastic about the idea and supported students and facilitators throughout the planning and execution of the project; Daniele Alves de Lemos, who is a specialist with CIL and provided all people involved with great input; and Marcos Roberto, founder of, an outstanding accessibility project that inspired the program`s  narrative. The program also counted on the support of the director of the American Spaces project with the American Embassy, and of course, CTJ makerspace staff members who felt first hand the thrill of empowering people to use the space to promote economic and social change.

Participant`s projects

All facilitators had a back up plan (a feasible project) ready to share and inspire participants. One of the projects was a tactile map of the makerspace. However, participants were so touched and engaged that they came up with wonderful ideas of their own based on the real needs of the visually impaired people in the program.

  • 3D printed Tactile Map – central bus station;
  • 3D printed Bracelet – Identification of volunteers in the  school’s accessibility project;
  • 3D printed Tactile Map – from bus stop to school;
  • Arduino Super Cane –  to detect obstacles and improve accessibility;
  • 3D printed Outlet – to avoid electrical shocks.

CTJ makerspace staff members and all facilitators will visit CIL 2 in October to bring the projects and invite all CIL students to be part of our community. We are sure that CTJ will host more and more programs to inspire youth to build a better future.




By | American Spaces, Classroom, Digital Literacy, Makerspaces | No Comments

CTJ Makerspace  fosters a community of committed teachers, who are eager to learn new technologies to implement in their classrooms. During the first EdTech Hub in the makerspace, teachers were exposed to  Stop Motion Studio App  that makes  creating stop motion videos really easy. The Edtech facilitator, Mariana Sucena, guided teachers into the task of  preparing short videos based on  pieces of reading from varied  levels: Junior, Teens, Flex Flex, or  Top Flex.  In sync with the maker spirit, teachers learned by doing and were really excited about the power of integrated activities: reading, making, and  using technology with a clear pedagogical goal in mind. Educators left the session with some feasible and exciting ideas to engage their students. It was a creative and exciting day at CTJ Makerspace. Please, see what some very creative teachers created below.

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Earth Day for Makers

By | American Spaces, Maker Movement, Smithsonian | 7 Comments

Earth Day is the annual celebration of the environment and a time to assess the work needed to protect the natural gifts of our planet. Earth Day is observed around the world, although nowhere is it a national holiday. In the United States, it affirms that environmental awareness is part of the country’s consciousness and that the idea of protecting the environment – once the province of a few conservationists – has moved from the extreme to the mainstream of American thought. There are simple ways to engage participants with activities that will help them think about their own actions and consequences for the planet. Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 9.04.09 PM


Leonardo Da Vinci – One of the Most Prolific Makers

By | American Spaces, Maker Movement, Smithsonian | No Comments

This  program  explores the notion that Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the most famous and prolific of all makers. He explored  all facets of scientific experimentation. The maker culture is closer to the Renaissance attitude of Leonardo than of the exacerbated Enlightenment rationalism or mechanistic and pragmatic mentality of industrial societies, for the maker today would be a kind of Renaissance man yesterday: tuned in different areas of knowledge, remixing the findings of one another; no history-social celebrities, but individuals responsible for creating and recreating new ways to produce, interact and communicate ideas and experiences in the world today. The program invites people to explore the life of Da Vinci and think of areas of expertise they  need to boost to  become an active and prolific maker.


Goldberg Machine

By | Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Smithsonian | No Comments

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There are low-cost, simple ideas for STEAM activities that might add a very nice touch to your programs  in American Spaces.  A clear example is building a Rube Goldberg machine - a contraption, invention, device that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion. When kids start making a chain reaction with access to materials and tools like  hot glue gun, soldering iron, and strawbees, they feel the thrill of making something, work collaboratively, and exercise logical reasoning. This engaging activity could be a great hands 0n component for a program on invention and innovation for varied age levels.  Participants generally love including a chain reaction and learn about the American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970).

For this activity we used adapted material from the Smithsonian institution to boost participation and engagement.


Youth Innovation Camp – 2016

By | Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Programação, Smithsonian | No Comments

Youth Innovation Camp 2016 brought together 56 young minds, library staff members, guest speakers and facilitators from varied fields to celebrate learning by doing, build a maker mindset, and think creatively about viable business models.

Many parents and educators agree that there is a surpassing need for informal educational programs that promote learning in science, technology, engineering, arts & design and math (STEAM). There is also high demand for spaces that offer people opportunities to experience learning in innovative, modern ways. Having these needs in mind, the camp`s narrative revolved around the themes of coding, prototyping, and creativity, and campers were immersed in the makerspace collaborative environment to learn about the possibilities, tools, and technologies available.


The first day started with campers getting inspired by President Obama`s speeches about coding, by Leonardo Da Vinci and his prolific approach to making and inventing, and by Michelle Obama`s and her talks on eco-literacy. We had a maker showcase, during which, students made something with their own hands and were very excited about having access to hot glue guns, scissors, motors, LED lights, soldering iron, 3D printers, and a plotter machine. The second activity was also a big hit among campers. With high-quality Smithsonian material, they learned about Rube Goldberg machines and had a blast grasping varied concepts in a very supporting atmosphere.

On the second day our guest speaker – a local young entrepreneur who devotes his time to working with assistive technologies for people with disabilities – wowed campers with his latest project,  Campers were challenged to work on product design, prototype, slogans and pitches. Later, they drew logos to have them printed out in the 3D printers.

The chef Diego Rhoger impressed campers with his experiments in the kitchen. Kids learned how to handle knives like chefs and turned healthy ingredients into surprising dishes by using basic concepts of molecular gastronomy. Right after this yummy day, campers went back to work on their products` visual identities and marketing strategies, getting ready to sell their ideas. Youth Innovation Camp is becoming a reference for creative minds willing to engage in meaningful, relevant, informal learning opportunities.


Rereading Famous Paintings

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Smithsonian | No Comments

Rereading Famous Paintings

On May 08th we celebrate the day of the artist in Brazil, so the Resource Center staff at Aguas Claras Branch planned a program to explore participant’s artistic potential and promote awareness related to  freedom of expression.

Three famous paintings were selected, and the librarians  did a research on the platform Smithsonian Learning Lab on Leonardo da Vinci so that they were better equipped to talk about him and his contribution to humankind.

To add a digital component and make participants curious, the  Osmo Masterpiece app was available to supercharge participant’s drawing skills. Then, participants used crayons, colored pencils, ink or materials to make  mosaics to paint their own versions of the masterpieces.  Both children and adults who participated in the activity had the opportunity to explore, create and recreate.

The Osmo app enriched the experience, for even those who could not draw very well felt empowered to do so. Now, participants who come to the Resource centers at Casa Thomas Jefferson find Smithsonian-inspired designs and the breadth of its engaging and high-quality materials to learn a new and relevant life skill.

Written by Thaise Nogueira & Lucas Marques

Resource Center CTJ Águas Claras 

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Releitura de obras de pintores famosos

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Português | No Comments

Rereading famous paintings

Em 08 de maio é celebrado o dia do artista plástico e e o Resource Center da CTJ de Águas Claras aproveitou a data para explorar o potencial artístico, criativo e crítico dos alunos, buscando assim oferecer uma atividade que promovesse a liberdade de expressão e também o conhecimento cultural.

Selecionamos três quadros de artistas famosos, sendo 1 brasileiro e 2 estrangeiros. O objetivo da atividade apresentar esses artistas, despertar habilidades artísticas e envolver os participantes no fascinante mundo da arte.

Utilizando conteúdo do  Smithsonian Institution  sobre Leonardo da Vinci, foi possível enriquecer o conhecimento passado aos alunos sobre esse artista.

Antes de começarem a releitura, as obras eram apresentadas para os alunos, informando seu título e autor. Utilizamos o aplicativo Masterpiece do Osmo, para auxiliar os alunos na produção dos desenhos. Com os desenho pronto os participantes tinham a opção de pintá-lo utilizando materiais diversos como giz de cera, lápis de cor, tinta guache e até mesmo colagem com papeis picados, formando mosaicos.

Alguns participantes se limitaram a tentar reproduzir a obra de forma mais fiel, mas a maioria buscou imprimir suas próprias interpretações criativas sobre as imagens. Em uma das releituras realizadas tivemos um Abaporu com 6 dedos, onde o aluno justificou que “ele era um mutante“. Em outra a tradicional Monalisa se transformou em uma moderna e alternativa jovem, com piercings e tatuagens. A obra mais surpreendente foi a da Nicole de apenas 6 anos que, com a ajuda do Osmo, foi capaz de reproduzir uma Monalisa colorida e definitivamente muito mais feliz.

Tanto as crianças, quanto os adultos que participaram da atividade tiveram a oportunidade de explorar, criar e recriar. O Osmo foi um grande diferencial na atividade, pois com ele, até mesmo aqueles que não sabiam desenhar, puderam realizá-la.

As obras ficaram expostas no Resource Center da Filial Águas Claras por cerca de duas semanas, após isso os alunos podiam levar sua masterpiece para casa. Confira as fotos da atividade aqui.

Escrito por Thaíse Nogueira e Lucas Marques

Resource Center Águas Claras


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Soft opening Makerspace Asa Norte

By | American Spaces, Makerspaces, Sem categoria, Smithsonian | No Comments

On June 8th, students, CTJ staff members, people from the community, and some invited guests from the U. S. Embassy gathered for the soft opening of the dedicated makerspace at Asa Norte branch.

The new learning environment  at Casa Thomas Jefferson is a place where visitors can connect and learn about American culture and language and have memorable experiences through hands-on/maker activities, exhibits, and programs.

CTJ Makerspace provides students and the local community with a one-of-a-kind, vivid physical environment. We will systematically offer programs and experiences that promote American culture and language through accurate, compelling, timely, and audience-appropriate information about the United States – its history, culture, society, and values. We will facilitate English language learning through access to English language speakers, resources, computers, and the Internet. Also, we will enhance visitors’ experience through Smithsonian-inspired designs and the breadth of its engaging and high-quality material.

All in all, the main purpose of the space is to offer visitors opportunities to connect new ideas and activities to their lives through hands-on tasks related to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and the development of 21st century skills to enrich the learning experience.



Makerspace na Casa Thomas Jefferson

By | Makerspaces, Português | No Comments

No dia 8 de junho alunos, funcionários da Casa Thomas Jefferson, pessoas da comunidade e alguns convidados especiais da Embaixada dos Estados Unidos  reuniram-se para o “soft opening” do primeiro Makerspace dedicado dentro de um centro bi-nacional no Brasil.

O novo ambiente de aprendizado da Casa Thomas Jefferson é um lugar onde os visitantes podem se conectar e aprender sobre a cultura americana e ter experiências memoráveis ​​através de atividades interativas, exposições e programas.

CTJ Makerspace foi especialmente pensado para facilitar o acesso à internet, envolver pessoas em experiencias interdisciplinares e criar oportunidades dinâmicas  para que as pessoas usem a língua Inglesa como ferramenta de comunicação.

Durante o evento houve um “makershowcase” para ilustrar algumas das possibilidades de atividades que permeiam o universo interdisciplinar STEAM – ciências, tecnologia, engenharia, artes e matemática. Tivemos os encantadores robôs Ozobots para a pratica da programação, kits de circuitos, cosplay, instalação interativa utilizando Arduíno, entre outros. A Casa Thomas Jefferson e o inglês como deve ser – dinâmico, interessante e inovador ao alcance de todos.





Training session Campinas and Sorocaba

By | American Spaces, Smithsonian | No Comments

June 9th and 10th, 2016 were very productive days for  CCBEU Campinas staff members involved with the project Achieving 21st Century Skills. On June 10th, CCBEU Sorocaba staff members joined the group for a lively hands-on session. Among the topics addressed, the group talked about the scope of the project Achieving 21st Century Skills – Promote U.S. foreign policy objectives through the active use of curated content from the Smithsonian Institution to stimulate learning in science, technology, engineering, arts & design, and math (STEAM) fields. Daniela Lyra and Maria Lucia Machado took a mobile makerspace for the training sessions, and the enthusiastic group worked collaboratively to design rich programs linked to ICS: Integrated Country Strategies goals.



What to do with your DIY studio?

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Maker Movement | No Comments


Okay, so you’ve built  yourself a really neat DIY studio! You got at least 3 light spots made from recycled and environmentally friendly materials, a nice Chroma-Key wall, and there are lots of people eager to learn more about photography! Everything is nice! No?!

Having studio material, such as light spots, backdrops and softboxes, is just the first step to get your studio working. as many people find it very hard to get deal with the techniques and terminology of a photo studio. This little tutorial aims at  trying to solve some of these problems and making your little DIY studio work like a dream! Let’s Begin.

1. Choosing the lights

If you followed the instructions properly, you should have at least reflectors and a Chroma-Key wall. So, the next step is choosing the right light bulbs to get  your spots full operational.  The main rule is trying to find the strongest light possible in local stores. Many people would prefer using fluorescent lights since they’re colder and more economical. Hotter incandescent lights are also an option, since they’re cheaper and easier to find in higher wattages. Always try to find lights with equal potencies so that you can control your lighting from a distance distance or using dimmers. Avoid using LED lights, since many commercial lights in the market lack some color bands.

2. Preparing your room

Even if you get the strongest lights possible, there’s no chance  that you will be able to beat sun light  in a well lit room. Most pro studios don’t have any windows, or rely on blackout curtains to avoid sunlight interference. However, since we are dealing with DYI studios, maybe the best lighting conditions will not be available. In this case, try using curtains or closing your windows for better light control.  Another option is paying attention to your room and observing the position of the sun during the day to determine what the best time to use your studio with the least interference possible is.

3. Working at your studio.

There are many different lighting schemes for studios, but most of them will work with the Standard “Three-Point Lighting”.

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With this standard, we achieved the following results in our own DIY studio:

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A single light source on, acting as the key light.

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Two light sources on, acting as the key light and the fill light

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All the light sources on: Key, Fill and Back Light

It is always important to experiment with position and distant, for every studio will have its own peculiarity. While dealing with light brightness, always remember that thumb rule: Light Intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance. That means that the furthest you move your light, the weakest it will arrive at your object. Use this creatively to control your light intensity and try to achieve some of the results above.

One more thing to have in mind  is that light always travels in straight lines. So, always remember to point your spots exactly where you want light to be!

With those little tips, your DIY studio will surely work like a pro one!

Have fun playing with your lights,



Ivan Sasha is a designer and photographer since 2009 and is finishing his undergraduation in Communications at University of Brasília. Today he worksas an intern at Casa Thomas Jefferson’s Marketing Department.


Google Apps to Boost Productivity – Module Two – Google Keep and Calendar

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy, English | One Comment


In the second module of the Increasing Productivity with Google APPS workshop, librarians, and teachers learned how to use Google Keep and Google Calendar to increase productivity at work, feel connected to peers,  and have time to enjoy life.

In sync with the Maker Movement, participants explored the applications in groups and together learned how to use some of the  features. Google Keep, a personal curation system, was an interesting surprise for participants. For the first activity with Keep, Carla Arena, head of the Technology and Innovation Department at Casa Thomas  Jefferson, asked participants to create three areas of different colors: the first for thoughts, the second for actions and the third for conversations. Then she proposed a reflection and asked people to list all the activities they were involved in in the last 24 hours. Participants were asked to categorize the activities in the colored areas. Some were surprised to realise that, throughout the day, they did not have time for themselves nor to talk to anyone.  As a result, everyone was eager to learn ,with and from the others, ways to use digital tools wisely to maximize work hours, become more productive at work, and be more content with their personal lives.


Aumentando a produtividade com Google Apps – Google Calendar e Google Keep

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy, Português | No Comments

Google Apps Invitation-01No segundo modulo da oficina Aumentando a produtividade com Google APPS, bibliotecários, professores e profissionais liberais aprenderam na prática a usar o Google Keep e o Google Calendar para aumentar sua produtividade no trabalho. A oficina começou com os participantes explorando as funcionalidades do Keep, um sistema de curadoria pessoal.  A iniciativa da Casa Thomas Jefferson em colaboração com a Embaixada dos Estados Unidos tem como objetivo criar espaços de aprendizado abertos e relevantes no mundo contemporâneo.

Em sincronia com o movimento do fazer, os participantes exploraram o aplicativo em grupos e ensinaram uns aos outros a usar suas funcionalidades. Logo na primeira atividade, Carla Arena, chefe do Departamento de Tecnologia e Inovação da Casa Thomas Jefferson, pediu que os participantes criassem três áreas de cores diferentes no keep: a primeira  seria dedicada a pensamentos, a segunda a ações e a terceira a conversas. Em seguida, propôs uma reflexão, ao solicitar que as pessoas listassem suas atividades no trabalho e na vida pessoal das ultimas 24 horas nas áreas coloridas.

O que se viu foi uma discussão muito interessante sobre a quantidade de tempo que dedicamos a cada uma dessas áreas, e sobre a importância de termos tempo para fazer atividades físicas, nos cuidar e conversar com pessoas, o que pode abrir oportunidades de troca e parceria.

E você? Esta sempre falando sobre quanto trabalho tem que fazer? Sente-se sempre muito ocupado? Talvez esteja na hora de repensar seus processos e conhecer algumas ferramentas digitais que possam aumentar sua produtividade no trabalho e, consequentemente, lhe proporcionar mais tempo e qualidade de vida.

Google Apps to Boost Productivity – Module One

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy | No Comments


Their own cell phones or laptops and lots of motivation. It was all a group of committed professionals needed to dive into the Google apps Google Drive and Google Docs to boost productivity. The event was held  at the American`s Embassy library, and the workshop was delivered by Casa Thomas Jefferson`s head of the Innovation and Technologies department, Carla Arena.

The program is divided in two stand alone modules. Module one: Google drive and Google docs. Module two: Google calendar and Google Keep.

For the first module, the audience was extremely varied, as we had public school teachers, journalists, and public servers among others learning together how to use Google apps to work collaboratively. Participants mentioned that although some of the features within the apps were familiar to them, they really enjoyed learning how to work on a single document with different people and got some ideas about how to start using technology to connect and become more productive at work.


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Storytelling in the Making

By | English, Makerspaces, Sem categoria | No Comments


There is something magical when a group of children sit comfortably for a storytelling session. When the storytellers are Larissa Victório, an educators who works at the American Space Casa Thomas Jefferson, and Cynthia Franco, a devoted teacher at the same institution, the result is magical.

For the March session, teachers  told the story Collin’s Colors, and brought to the little ones a charming and colorful world. To create a  perfect environment  to practice the English language, the staff decided to come up with something new. They wanted to surprise the young readers, and used Makey Makey for a follow up.

Larissa explored a platform called scratch, learned a bit about coding and made a project. Check out the tutorial below to create your storytelling in the making as well.

Project on Scratch

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Contação de história maker

By | Maker Movement, Português, Projetos | No Comments

Existe algo mágico quando um grupo de crianças sentam confortavelmente para compartilhar uma leitura. Quando as contadoras são Larissa Victório, pedagoga que trabalha como membro do time do American Space Casa Thomas Jefferson, e Cynthia Frango dedicada professora da mesma instituição, o resultado é mágico.

Para a sessão de março, a dupla contou a história Collin Colors, e envolveu os pequenos em um encantando  mundo colorido. Elas sempre pensam em atividades para dar asas a imaginação e criar ambiência para a pratica do inglês, mas desta vez elas resolveram bolar uma atividade para surpreender as crianças. Usando um kit Makey Makey, exploraram a plataforma Scratch e criaram um projeto para encantar os pequenos leitores.

Confira o tutorial abaixo para criar a sua storytelling in the making também.

Por que usar o kit Makey Makey em bibliotecas do século 21?

MaKey MaKey foi inventado por  doutorandos no Media Labs do MIT. E Além de uso pra lá de divertidos podemos destacar como principal característica a acessibilidade: não é preciso saber programação, eletrônica, sequer o que é uma placa de circuito impresso para criar projetos interessantes e ficar curioso para aprender mais.


Virtual Tour – Smithsonian

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Smithsonian | No Comments

Many kids and teens are curious about dinosaurs, but not many kids here in South America have the chance of visiting a Smithsonian museum and seeing first hand a dinosaur fossil and learning from it. To change this, the museum has been 3d printing many of its artifacts and making all the content available online. Having learned of such rich resources, the RC team at our Resource Center at Asa Norte branch organized a program departing from a Smithsonian Virtual tour. The whole RC was decorated with posters, Smithsonian magazine clippings, dinosaur toys and a thematic book display. We had iPads logged on the virtual tour, and we had lots of swabs cut into small pieces and worksheets with printed skeletons for students to cover  the design forming the dinosaur skeletons. Participants got small pieces of  flattened  clay and  pressed the swabs onto the it to print the fossils. During the activity staff members talked about the theory of evolution defended by Darwin and  the scientific importance of fossils. It was gratifying to see how well students engaged, got curious, and learned a bit more about the resources they can find at the Smithsonian, and how important archaeological findings are to science.   DiScreen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.45.03 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.45.13 PM  Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.45.41 PM

Vloggers Attitude – Smithsonian/Maker Activity

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Maker Movement, Smithsonian | No Comments

Cardboard boxes, scissors, aluminum foil, collaboration and creativity. That`s all  participants needed during the program Vloggers Attitude. People got together to discuss issues related to diversity, and learn about photography.

The idea behind ​​this program is a maker story worth sharing. The Resource Center staff at  the South Wing branch decided to run a program targeted at teenagers who already have vlogs with considerable number of hits and talk about themes that revolved around human rights, tolerance, and diversity. The goal was to encourage participants to create their own vlogs about their opinions on this matter s.

With the imminence of filming for this project came the idea / challenge, with few resources, set up a studioo to offer vloggers an option within our space.

So, we made a  D.I.Y. studio and made it available for everyone. Many people are already having fun taking pictures at the resource Center. To open the program ,the facilitator used beautiful photos that represented ethnical diversity from the  Smithsonian magazine. Vloggers exchanged ideas, discussed how to make interesting vlogs and shared their most popular ones. Participants left the library with a challenge. Post a video on the same topic of the conversation: diversity.

Participants  were invited to use the studio and learn about the art of photography and film by participating in talks and demonstrations delivered by some experts among CTJ staff members. All the talks, and studio, off course, totally open tho the community. Interested in making your very own studio? let us know on our facebook.

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Brasília Dribbble Meet Up

By | American Spaces, Maker Movement | No Comments

 Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.53.28 PMBrasília Dribbble Meetup is one of the many self – organized get togethers around the world, where designers, fashion designers, engineers, architects,  hobbits, enthusiasts, and makers of all kinds meet to connect and strengthen local communities. The event was held at UnB – Brasilia`s Federal University  and aimed at fostering creativity among participants and sharing projects related to  STEAM topics among UnB`s students.

Casa Thomas Jefferson`s Mobile Makerspace and Protipe – Unb`s very own makerspace held a maker showcase together and invited participants to talk about innovation at the Casa, interdisciplinary projects, and the  range of activities that might be held at CTJ Makerspace – a dedicated area at Asa Norte Branch soon  to be inaugurated. See more of global network platform Dribbble, and more of CTJ Mobile Maker  showcases


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Para Amplificar

By | Maker Movement, Makerspaces | No Comments

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Para discutir o uso de tecnologias na educação e trabalhar competências digitais por meio de ferramentas Google, o Seminário Amplifica já reuniu muitos participantes em São Paulo e Curitiba, e se organiza para mais dois eventos (Belo Horizonte e Curitiba).

Durante o evento, incentiva-se a reflexão sobre novas possibilidades digitais para práticas pedagógicas e workshops com atividades mão-na-massa que envolvem o uso de ferramentas do Google. Além disso, os participantes também desenvolvem atividades dentro de  makerspaces.

Para o evento em Sampa, o criador do site Tinker Lab Brasil, Glauco Paiva, Lab Educação e o Makerspace móvel da Casa Thomas Jefferson marcaram presença e criaram atividades que facilitam o desenvolvimento de pessoas capazes de colaborar e trabalhar juntas em possíveis soluções para os problemas do mundo moderno.

Em Curitiba, a CTJ encantou os participantes com um Maker Showcase ,oferecendo atividades acessíveis, sustentáveis e fáceis de adaptar para diversos contextos educacionais. Criamos atividades para que os educadores pensassem em projetos transdisciplinares que estimulem a descoberta e a experiência na interseção das artes, ciências, matemática, design e tecnologia (STEAM).

Nosso cardápio de atividades do fazer oferece experiências com:

Google Cardboars – com papelão e um celular pode-se  explorar, em contexto educacional, os aplicativos que tornam o celular numa tela 3D para visitar  museus, galerias, ou vários  locais pelo mundo usando a ferramenta gratuita  Google Street View.

Osmos – esse kit maker pode ser usado para trabalhar estratégias de aprendizagem digital, coordenação motora, vocabulário e números.

Makey Makey – desenvolvido no MIT, esse recurso é uma forma divertida e amigável para introduzir pessoas ao mundo da programação.

Circuit Boards – esse kit incentiva participantes a abrir brinquedos quebrados para aprender sobre circuitos.

3D Doodlers – explore maneiras de engajar alunos em aprendizado divertido e dinâmico. Alunos podem criar logos, objetos funcionais, monumentos, ou arte.

Interessado em AMPLIFiCAR? Chegue mais detalhes sobre os seminários aqui.

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Dribbble Meet Up

By | 21st Century Skills, Makerspaces, Projetos | No Comments

Depois de passar por varias cidades do mundo, o evento homónimo da plataforma mundial Dribbble chegou a Brasília e contou com o apoio da Casa Thomas Jefferson.

O Brasília Dribbble Meet Up, evento presencial organizado para fomentar a rede criativa dentro da universidade foi realizado de 28 a 31 de Março e trouxe atividades relacionadas a quatro áreas criativas: design, moda, programação e arquitetura, além de uma exposição de trabalhos de alunos e parceiros no decorrer dos quatro dias.

A edição de Brasília aconteceu na  galeria da Faculdade de Arquitetura da UnB e contou com mais de 26 convidados, um Maker Showcase conduzido pelo time maker da casa Thomas Jefferson, 5 palestras, 4 insights, 4 oficinas, 4 lives e muito entusiasmo dos participantes que engajaram em diversas  atividades com foco na integração das quatro vertentes criativas, estimulo a criatividade e a multidisciplinaridade.

A Casa Thomas Jefferson, ao participar do Dribbble Meet Up, divulgou a inauguração eminente do seu mais novo serviço: o Makerspace, um espaço aberto especialmente criado para fomentar inovação, desenvolver a criatividade e o estimular a experimentação. Levamos Osmos, Circuit boards, Google Cardboards, 3D doodlers. Nosso parceiro Rodrigo Franco da Protipe fez demonstraçōes usando impressoras 3D.

Visite a  página do Dribbble Meet Up e acompanhe o que acontece na Thomas acessando o nosso site.

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By | Smithsonian | No Comments




Os Centros Binacionais participantes do projeto Achieving 21st Century Skills oferecem à comunidade onde estão inseridos atividades que tratam de desafios enfrentados hoje em dia. Este projeto educacional para jovens, que começou em setembro de 2014, promove aprendizagem em Ciência, Tecnologia, Engenharia, Artes e Design e Matemática, campos STEAM, através de conteúdo selecionado pelo Smithsonian Institution.

O Brasil anunciou um salto de 50% em casos de dengue ao longo de um período de três semanas em janeiro, uma constatação preocupante. Com isso em mente, planejamos um programa de sensibilização para que cidadãos comuns pudessem se juntar ao combate ao mosquito.

Na Casa Thomas Jefferson, começamos o programa mostrando a animação ‘Quais são as infecções transmitidas por mosquitos?’ para explicar como doenças como a dengue são transmitidas. Em sincronia com o movimento do fazer, os participantes fizeram uma mosquitoeira para levar para casa e se divertiram transformando lixo sólido em um objeto útil no combate a essa ameaça. Tem interesse em fazer um programa parecido na sua instituição? Acesse o programa completo na wiki do projeto:


Mosquito Trap

By | Maker Movement, Smithsonian | No Comments

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Make a Difference

BNCs that are part of the “Achieving 21st Century Skills” project have been planning activities that address important issues and challenges the world faces nowadays. This educational project for youth, that began in September 2014, promotes learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Design, and Math (STEAM fields) through the steadfast contemplation and application of curated content from the Smithsonian Institution.

Brazil has reported a nearly 50% jump in cases of dengue fever over a three-week period in January, a worrying finding. With that in mind, we planned a program to raise awareness on what citizens can do to fight Mosquito-Borne Infections.

At Casa Thomas Jefferson, we kicked off the program by showing the animation ‘What Are Mosquito-Borne Infections?’ to explain how diseases like dengue are transmitted. We also used a set of “Did You Know” questions about dengue to raise awareness of the need to eradicate the insect without harming the environment. As a follow-up, participants made a mosquito trap to take home. Our team prototyped the trap to make sure it worked well and placed a few throughout the school to motivate people to come and learn how to make their own. If you are interested in running a similar program, see more on the project’s wiki page.



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Google Forms

By | American Spaces, Classroom, Digital Literacy | No Comments

There are many ways to promote engagement and making in the classroom. Using gadgets to give students the opportunity of being producers of content is a not only effective, but also very relevant nowadays. I am teaching a group of 12 very active teens, who are constantly talking about their idols and favorite songs. On the very first day, I asked them to make a list of singers they enjoy listening to. When I realised that the book I am teaching (TimeZones 2 by National Geographic) had comprehension questions about a teen fashion idol, I guessed it would be a good opportunity to engage students in a sentence level grammar practice.

The first thing to do was to make a Google form myself, for I needed to understand how it works. I resorted to the list of students` favorites, and made an example form a quiz about Ariana Grande. I loved the possibility of adding videos and images straight from the web, but as with any other digital project with kids, I faced some challenges. I made a list here so that you can learn from my experience and have a wonderful digital maker learning experience with your students too.

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Internet was slow

I could not get my students to open the form in class because the connection was slow and many iPads were not logged into the right account. Fortunately, I had saved the link, and I projected the form using the classroom`s  projector. The result was an engaged group of students performing the task I.

I decided what would engage students myself

Some of my students were really excited, but others were not so enthusiastic since they do not like Ariana that much. The result of my making a form about a person I assumed students would like could have been catastrophic, but, as it turned out, I was very lucky. Students asked me if they could make their own questions about their own idol, so the activity moved from students answering questions on a form to having them actually make their forms, practice language, and  learn a digital skill.

I did not know how to facilitate students` making their own forms

Having set the model, I wanted my students to make their own forms because I was aiming at having them produce digital content and language, but I had no idea how I would do that. I learned from Thais Priscila, an IT team member at Casa Thomas Jefferson, that students would have to access GoogleForms using the web, not the app. We had emails and logins ready for each group, and all they had to do was login one Ipad per group and start typing the questions and answers we had been working on.

I had no time to spare

To make sure everything would work smoothly, I made sure I delivered clear instructions and monitored the group closely.


Even after proofreading, students kept making new mistakes on the forms.

When students are ready to share, make sure you tell them to add you as a collaborator so that you can also edit the forms after they have finished. I took notes of their mistakes, and provided corrective feedback. We opened the forms and edited the language mistakes as a group.

Students made the forms. Now what?

language teachers know how to take advantage of learning possibilities. I will share with students all the forms so that they will be exposed to correct language and have meaningful exchanges of information in the target language.

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I hope this posts makes you feel like using Google Forms with your learners. Check some of the forms students made below.

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World Water Day

By | English, Smithsonian | No Comments

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We wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush our teeth, grab a cup of coffee and head out for the day. Water is an important part of our daily lives, and we use it for a wide variety of purposes. But do we really think about the impact of our daily choices on the planet? Do we really care enough to change our routine?  To talk about such an important theme in an engaging way, our Resource Center staff designed activities in which visitors had the chance to explore, collaborate, and be surprised.

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The main goal of this program was to motivate people to think about what each one of us can do against the threat of water shortage. To contextualize and make the project appealing, we played the holographic version of the World Water Day 2015 Trailer. We also made an impact by showing the video  a “swirling monster” of plastic trash, documented by the Smithsonian Institution’s Dive Officer.

We used The Newspaper Clipping Generator to create future water-themed headlines. We had headlines depicting a positive future and others announcing a negative perspective. Participants created their own headlines, played with a Water Consumption Calculator to become aware of the amount of water used, and thought about what they could do to make sure we solve the challenge faced by our planet nowadays.

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To keep the audience engaged, we had a series of STEAM activities related to the theme and promoted meaningful learning out of the English classroom.

Water Tension



 Pascal Principle



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Bouncing Bubbles


Water consumption Calculator

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Water conservation awareness is fundamental, and we need to put the theories into practice. When planning programs for our libraries, we aim at creating opportunities to address important issues and for people to feel motivated to speak English as a way to participate in a global dialogue. We invite you to come and see what we have for the month of April and celebrate with us environmental awareness through programs for Earth Day. Follow Casa Thomas Jefferson on Facebook and visit us at






Vloggers Attitude

By | American Spaces, Digital Literacy, Português | No Comments

Caixas de  papelão, tesouras, papel alumínio, colaboração e criatividade. Foi tudo o que os participantes do programa Vloggers Attitude precisaram  para discutir assuntos relacionados a diversidade e aprender sobre fotografia.

A ideia desse programa e como ele se realizou é uma historia bem maker que vale a pena compartilhar. A equipe do Resource Center na filial Asa Sul decidiu fazer um programa direcionado aos adolescentes que já tem vlogs com número considerável de acessos e discutir com eles o tema da diversidade. O objetivo  era o de incentivar os participantes a criarem os seus próprios vlogs sobre suas opiniões em relação a esse assunto  e, assim, tentarem se tornar agentes de mudança social.

Com a iminência da filmagem para esse projeto, veio a ideia/desafio de, com poucos recursos, montar um estúdio para usarmos e também para dar aos vlogueiros uma opção, dentro do nosso espaço, para que eles pudessem filmar ou melhorar seus vídeos. Fizemos um estúdio D.I.Y. e disponibilizamos para todos. Muita gente está usando e gostando da novidade.

Para abrir a discussão, foram escolhidas fotos representativas de pessoas de etnias diversas da revista Smithsonian. . Os vloggers trocaram ideias, conversaram sobre como fazer vlogs interessantes e compartilharam aqueles que são mais populares. Eles saíram com a missão de postar um vídeo com a temática da conversa: diversidade, com uma proposta mais positiva do assunto.

Os participantes contaram com apoio da equipe do resource center e convidados para usarem o studio e aprenderem sobre a arte de fotografar e filmar.  Interessado em fazer o seu próprio DIY studio, tratar de assuntos importantes e ensinar habilidades digitais na sua instituição? Fique atento pois, perpetuando o sentimento de colaboraçao que inspirou esse programa, vamos compartilhar, em breve, o passo-a-passo, com dicas interessantes.

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Dia Mundial da Agua

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Português | No Comments

Water Day LAS-01

O crescimento populacional, os avanços tecnológicos e industriais e o consumo desenfreado tornaram a demanda por água  cada vez maior e, por isso, mais da metade da população mundial poderá sofrer com a escassez de água. Muitas pessoas ainda acham que a água é um recurso inesgotável que podemos utilizar a vontade. Se não começarmos a consumir a água de forma consciente, ela será um recurso cada vez mais escasso.

Pensando em tudo isso, resolvemos elaborar atividades em nossas bibliotecas para estimular a conscientização sobre a melhor forma de consumo desse bem precioso para que ele não nos falte no futuro. Para falar sobre tema tao importante de forma divertida, criamos atividades nas quais as pessoas podiam explorar, colaborar, ter uma experiencia diferente e se surpreender.

Os objetivos Deepen Science and Technology e Deepen Health and Environment foram trabalhados para promover o conhecimento da necessidade de conservação do recurso hídrico. Para compreender que precisamos ter hábitos sadios e responsáveis, e que, ao não fazer nada para mudar, colocamos em risco nossas vidas.

Demos partida  neste aprendizado por meio de vídeo, holograma e figuras, nos quais alunos e pessoas da comunidade refletem e expressam suas idéias através de desenhos e frases. A reação é de espanto, tristeza, preocupação e esperança de um futuro melhor.

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Para incentivar o aprendizado interdisciplinar de atividades STEAM (ciência, tecnologia, engenharia, arte e matemática), preparamos diversos experimentos. O resultado – muitas pessoas engajadas e interessadas em repensar a maneira que usam água. Confira a movimentação nos Centros de Recursos nas filiais Lago Sul e Sudoeste nesse mês de maio.

Tensão superficial




Principio de Pascal



Reciclagem e conciencia ambiental

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Bouncing Bubbles


Water consumption Calculator

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A conscientização da população mundial em relação à água é fundamental e, portanto, precisamos colocar as teorias em prática. Ao planejar programas em nossas bibliotecas, buscamos criar espaços onde essas questōes são abordadas e onde o falar ingles é uma ferramenta importante de comunicação. Venha conferir o que teremos para o mês de abril. Celebre conosco a conscientização ambiental por meio de programas para Earth Day. Siga a Casa Thomas Jefferson no Facebook e venha nos visitar. As atividades são abertas a todos.


Atitude faz a diferença!


By | Português, Programação | No Comments

A partir de uma exposição que visitei no Children’s Creativity Museum, museu iterativo de arte e tecnologia para crianças, em São Francisco, chamada “Brain Teaser 2”; criamos em nosso Resource Center uma mesa com alguns “brain teasers” (quebra-cabeças) para nossos alunos. É sabido que esse tipo de atividade promove o desenvolvimento do raciocínio lógico, a resolução de problemas, criatividade, o espírito colaborativo, e também  ajuda no aumento da memória. Mesmo não sendo muitos, nossos quebra-cabeças fazem muito sucesso com os nossos alunos, pais e funcionários.

Maguimar Valin

Casa Thomas Jefferson – Brasília

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Teaching Code through Digital Media: Hour of Code and Beyond

By | 21st Century Skills, Classroom, English | No Comments

This year’s Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week (Dec 7-13) is about to start, and institutions willing to kick off simple and engaging makerspaces should learn how to design  learning how to code environment.  One of the main concern of parents and educators is the amount of time kids spend in front of their devices, and learning how to code can turn some of this comsuption into production time. The point of having coding events is that every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path.

Last week, I watched a  webinar called Teaching Code through Digital Media: Hour of Code and Beyond. The ideas presented are appropriate for students age 10 and up and we learn methods to integrate coding into any subject area. To increase girls’ participation in computer science, Melissa provided an overview of Vidcode, a platform designed to teach programming by making video projects with code. Through a hybrid interface of block-based and syntactical code, Vidcode functions as a bridge between visual programming languages like Scratch and more complex text-based coding while tapping  into a hobby teens are already immersed in: video and photo sharing.

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Topics covered include:

  • How to incorporate code into other disciplines through creative projects
  • How to participate in this year’s Computer Science Education Week
  • Projects ideas for semester and year-long classes
  • Introduction to the Vidcode interface and curriculum and ways to get started right away
  • Explanation of continued training and support for both computer science and non-CS teachers

















Por que fazemos maker showcases?

By | 21st Century Skills, Classroom, Português | No Comments

Para fazer um maker showcase funcionar, trocamos muitos e-mails, fazemos toda a logística, nos certificamos de que todos os maker kits estão funcionando bem, colocamos tudo em caixas, saímos duas horas mais cedo para nos certificar de que teremos tempo para treinar um novo membro da equipe, colocamos tudo no carro e… Mais um showcase ACONTECE.

Temos uma rotina agitada, mas altamente reconfortante. Nós fizemos pelo menos dez maker showcases em escolas parceiras nos últimos três meses e podemos afirmar que o engajamento e entusiasmo dos alunos começa no minuto em que chegamos. Para todos os lugares que olhamos vemos pessoas:

  • Experimentando programação em uma plataforma muito amigável com Kano
  • Fazendo lindos projetos com Littlebits
  • Aprendendo conceitos de circuitos com Big Bits
  • Fazendo arte com Spinning art
  • Aprendendo sobre “physical computing” MakeyMakeys
  • Jogando para aprender com Osmos
  • Construindo circuitos impressos com Snap Circuits

Durante as nossas açōes do Mobile Makerspace, onde quer que olhemos, vemos pessoas que se deslocam alegremente de estação em estação aprendendo um conceito novo ao criar algo na vida real. Ouvimos perguntas como: Tem mais amanhã? Quando vocês voltam? Onde posso ir para fazer mais dessas atividades?

Um pai na semana passada me fez uma pergunta muito interessante enquanto eu ajudava seu filho a adicionar um dimmer no circuito que ele tinha acabado de fazer. “Você trabalha em uma escola de inglês, certo? Então, o que tem a ver o ensino da língua inglesa com coisas como programação, impressão 3D, circuitos e eletrônica?”.

Eu posso pensar em pelo menos três razões muito boas para um American Space fazer showcases. Makers representam conceitos da cultura americana, como: a busca pelo conhecimento, comprometimento, empreendedorismo; conceitos muito interessantes para se estimular em qualquer ambiente educacional. Ao participar de uma ampla gama de atividades em grupos, participantes apropriam-se (internalizam ou tomam para si) os resultados produzidos ao trabalhar em conjunto. Estes resultados podem incluir tanto novas estratégias ou conhecimento.

Mais uma vantagem de ter showcases é o fato de que temos pelo menos um mentor em cada estação para questionar os participantes e facilitar o aprendizado.  O conceito de Vygotsky’s de Zona de Desenvolvimento Proximal - área onde uma pessoa pode resolver um problema com a ajuda de um colega mais capacitado – pode ser facilmente observado nas interaçōes dos grupos enquanto trabalham juntos para superar desafios. Quando fazemos maker showcases, despertamos a imaginação das pessoas entorpecidas pelo genérico e o produzido em massa e convidamos os participantes a se envolverem com atividades que aguçam a genuína curiosidade. Todo American Space procura envolver participantes em atividades criativas e enriquecedoras para promover aprendizado e fazer a diferença na vida dos alunos e prepará-los para os desafios do século XXI. Agora, os American Spaces têm como aliado a força do Movimento do Fazer e todo o entusiasmo que o cerca.

Veja abaixo alguns momentos “maker” das ultimas semanas.

GRAFFITart + Maker Showcase @ CTJ-FAN  -

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Galois Infantil Águas Claras -

Mobile Maker Showcase @ CIMAN -

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Festival Literário do Colégio Santo Antônio –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Feira de Tecnologia do Colégio Cor Jesu -

Mobile Maker Showcase @  Leonardo Da Vinci Asa Norte –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Sigma Águas Claras –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Sigma Águas Claras –



Why Maker Showcases?

By | 21st Century Skills, English, Maker Movement, Smithsonian | No Comments

To get a maker showcase up and running, we exchange many mails, get all the logistics ready, make sure all the maker kits are running well, pack, prepare two hours early to make sure we make it in time to train some new staff members, get everything out and …

One more maker showcase is ON.

It’s surely a hectic routine, the one of our mobile makerspace, but highly reassuring. We have delivered at least ten maker showcases in partner schools over the last three months, and it’s safe to say that the buzz starts the minute we arrive. All we see is the audience:

During our showcases, wherever we look, we see people moving happily around, going from work station to work station experimenting the thrill of making something for themselves. People overcome their frustration and celebrate making. It’s just beautiful to watch the excitement and engagement and hear questions like: Are you guys going to come back tomorrow? When are you guys coming back? Where can I go for more of these activities?

Last week, a parent asked me a very interesting question as I was helping his kid add a dimmer to the circuit she had just finished.  “You are with an English school, right? So, what does English teaching have to do with things like coding, 3D printing, circuitry, and electronics?” I can think of at least three very good reasons for an American Space to have maker showcases. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design, and powerful personal technology, which are great concepts to teach at any school. The interactive component of maker activities are worth pointing out, too. By participating in a broad range of activities with others, participants appropriate (internalize or take for themselves) the outcomes produced by working together; These outcomes could include both new strategies and knowledge.

Another advantage of having maker showcases and letting people experience making is the fact that there is a mentor in each station to foster learning. The activities are drop-in, but participants might be guided by the mentor who does not provide answers or a manual, but asks discovery questions and leads participants to “a-ha” moments instead. Vygotsky’s concept of the Zone of Proximal Development – the area where a person can solve a problem with the help of a more able peer – can be easily noticed as kids work together to overcome challenges. Hosting numerous maker showcases around town stirs the imagination of people numbed by generic, mass-produced merchandise and invites participants to engage with activities that sparkle genuine curiosity as to the English language.

GRAFFITart + Maker Showcase @ CTJ-FAN  -

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Galois Infantil Águas Claras –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ CIMAN –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Festival Literário do Colégio Santo Antônio –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Feira de Tecnologia do Colégio Cor Jesu –

Mobile Maker Showcase @  Leonardo Da Vinci Asa Norte –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Sigma Águas Claras –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Sigma Águas Claras –


Graffiti in the Making

By | American Spaces, English, Projetos | No Comments

After making its way into our Resource Centers, the maker movement has gained strength at Casa Thomas Jefferson as we have been addressing themes related to American Culture and combining maker showcases with themed workshops.  A good example of this new format was the GRAFFITart –  a maker showcase combined with a graffiti live painting show, which wowed visitors to the CTJ Asa Norte in October.

Born at the heart of American hip-hop culture, graffiti was treated as vandalism, but managed, with great difficulty, to make its way from the city’s streets and subway cars to large galleries. Many pieces of work have been commissioned by media groups, corporations, governments and famous museums – like the Brooklyn Museum, the Amsterdam Museum and the Smithsonian Museum, to name a few.

Recognizing the power of street art in Brasilia, CTJ invited three of  the most prominent graffiti artists in the city  to boost our maker showcase: Pedro Sangeon (@gurulino), Hugo Willians (@yongattack), and Camila Santos (@sirenarte).

Pedro is a brazilian visual artist, illustrator and meditator. He signs his work as PSAN and is best know for his famous character, Gurulino. Camila – Siren as she is best known – expresses in her work the same serenity and happiness when performing. Hugo – or Yong – is a Brazilian urban artist, who has been coloring the city for ten years.  Surrounded by students, parents, admirers and lovers of urban art, our guests spent the afternoon doing graffiti and inspiring visitors to understand the mission of our new MakerSpace that will be inaugurated early 2016.

Our maker showcase

For the maker showcase we had the contribution of local makers who kindly came to talk about 3D printing and modelling. Makers are very often inspired to share and empower people to become makers too. Our special thanks go to Rodrigo Proença - father of our very talented student Maria Augusta ‘Gutta’ Proença  who loves cosplay and Arduino. They brought a 3D printer, a drone, and a very special project to share and inspire us all.

gutta proença3



Here is a list of the activities put together by the Resource Center Asa Norte maker team. Special thanks to our super team Aline Mota, Flávia Pellegrini and Tássia Ávila, and also to our Asa Norte branch executive aide Lucilene Elias.

  • Makey Makeys
  • 3D printing and Arduino showcase
  • Littlebits
  • Snap Circuits
  • Pedal Powered Blender
  • Big Bits
  • Spinning Art

The event was so upbeat that the partnership between CTJ  and  GRAFFITart team did not end here. On November 18th we already have another MAKER GRAFFITart in the Asa Sul branch and soon we will have a Graffiti Workshop with Yong, Gurulino and Siren. Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook to make sure you do not miss this great learning experience.


BIGBITS_Circuit boards_Handbook

BigBits : a low cost – with high impact – circuitry activity

By | English, Maker Movement, Makerspaces | No Comments

Everywhere makers go, we hear that we don’t need fancy or high tech materials to take our maker space to the next level. And it is true, indeed!

Last August, I was one of many maker enthusiasts, from all over the world, that took the “The Tinkering Fundamentals” course, offered by The Exploratorium Team at Coursera E-Learning platform.

A three weeks course, “The Tinkering Fundamentals” aimed to help educators and enthusiasts to learn how to develop a practice of tinkering and making. This course was designed as a hands-on workshop, where we handled making and tinkering activities aided by video content, activity guides, background reading, forum discussions, and instructor`s guidance.

With a very clear and straight to the point content, especially for those who are taking their first steps into the maker movement, the Exploratorium Team guided us on how to conduct making and tinkering activities without handing to the kids the whole treasure map, motivating them to think, discover and solve problems by way of trying, failing, trying again and finally nailing it.

Each week we had to do an activity aligned with the content dealt with. I was happy to see that most of them were no news to our maker team at Casa Thomas Jefferson, and some were even already posted here as inspiration like the ones in the posts: “How to Make a Doodler”, “How to Make Your First Robot”, “How to Make a LED Powered Card” and “How to Make Your First Wearable Circuit“, just to name a few.

The activity of the Week Two though was a refreshing surprise: The Circuit Boards – what we right away nicknamed as BigBits (a clear reference to its ‘cousin’, the ©LittleBits). BigBits, as we call them now, are real electrical parts mounted on sturdy wood blocks designed for anyone (at almost any age) to start creating electrical connections between everyday objects like batteries, bulbs, buzzers, switches, and other electrical components, using alligator clips. They are very similar to the LittleBits, but with a difference: they are low cost since you can make them from scratch with used toys and electric parts, or very inexpensive components.

We put together a basic set here at Casa Thomas Jefferson and it made a surprisingly humongous success! We never imagined they would cause such engagement and curiosity. Even parents couldn’t resist the urge to start playing around.  It is great to see how they figure the connections out without minimum orientation, and how participants solve the problems of multiple connections easily by working together.

We leave the set available on a table, and they are free to play with it whenever they want. We also use it as a drop-in station whenever we throw a Mobile Maker Showcase at our outposts or external events. In either case, it is a buzz maker!

To make a BigBits set is easy and it only requires some basic DIYer skills like drilling, hammering and handling the soldering iron and the hot glue gun. The detailed instructions on how to make the circuits are available at The Exploratorium website.

The wood blocks can come from scrap pieces of wood that you can easily negotiate at any wood workshop (I did and it cost me nothing!), and here are a few basic components you might find at any local electronic store – except for the hand crank generator (sold at Amazon) and those knife switchers (easily replaced by any regular ones). Check the materials and the tools you need here.

We also used some parts from old toys – from a campaign we made – like DC motors, servo motors, switches, lamps, engines and so on… Here are some images from our set in action.

So… what are you waiting for?! Roll up your sleeves and make a BigBits set for your maker space. One thing I guarantee: you won’t regret it and the kids will have loads of fun! ;-)

Exploratorium Activites Ideas

Exploratorium Courses at Coursera

Circuit Boards “BigBits”  Handbook

Electrical Components Stores (Online)

Creative Design

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Smithsonian | No Comments



The project Achieving 21st Century Skills aims at creating synergy among the cultural and academic departments, Resource Centers, and the EducationUSA office inside the Binational Centers. American Spaces in general often host exhibitions that address issues like the environment, preservation, tolerance, etc. – issues related to the U.S. mission in Brazil. Exhibits and cultural events that already take place in American Spaces can be interesting opportunities to encourage people to participate in maker activities to learn a new skill and to interact in authentic and fun ways. Find below an example of how an art exhibition became the starting point for an extracurricular maker activity in an American Space.


The artists Hermidia Metzler and Marcia Mazzoni invited the audience to Casa Thomas Jefferson’s art gallery in September, 2015 to take a look at their work and learn different ways of perceiving plastic and transforming what could be trash into pieces of art. The program ‘Design Criativo’ aims at motivating people to rethink consumption, calculate the impact they cause on our planet, and upcycle plastic bottles using one of the techniques the artists use in their work.  The program provides an open space for creativity and inspires the audience to come up with solutions, learn together in a very practical way, and establish communication among local artists and makers with the community in general.


5’ – Use the video from the National Museum of Natural History on ocean pollution to start a discussion on what kind of products people in general buy and the impact on the planet. Make sure you tell participants a bit about the video first (you will find info on the post to elaborate your talk).


5’ –Use the  video from National Museum of Natural History on ocean pollution to start a discussion on what kind of products people in general buy and the impact on the planet. Make sure you tell participants a bit about the video firs t(you will find info on the post to elaborate your talk). Ocean Trash: Marine Debris From Shore To Sea

15´ -Motivate participants to visit the site  Ecosytem on the Edge to calculate heir Nitrogen footprint. Invite volunteers to share the results.

2  hours – Hands on activity  -  The artists shared some techniques they use to transform plastic and guided participants as they made two decorative pieces for their home.

Keep in mind that this program could be a good way to build community and to do so, you should invite local artists to collaborate with you.



Design Criativo

By | Maker Movement, Português, Programação, Smithsonian | No Comments


O American Space Casa Thomas Jefferson trabalha em parceria com a Embaixada dos Estados Unidos e outros Centros Binacionais no Brasil para implementar o projeto  “Achieving 21st Century Skills”. Além de trazer o movimento do fazer (importante conceito da cultura americana) para dentro dos centros, o projeto tem também o objetivo de criar sinergia entre os departamentos cultural e acadêmico, Resource Center e EducationUSA. Muitas vezes, temos nos American Spaces exposições que tratam de assuntos como meio ambiente, preservação, tolerância, etc. Esses temas estão relacionados à missão dos Estados Unidos no Brasil. As exposições e eventos culturais que já acontecem nos American Spaces podem ser oportunidades interessantes para estimular pessoas a participarem do movimento do fazer, colocar a mão na massa e sentir-se parte de uma comunidade dentro da escola para aprender uma habilidade nova e interagir de maneira autêntica e divertida. Veja abaixo um exemplo de como uma exposição de arte se tornou ponto de partida para uma atividade ‘maker’ (extracurricular) em um American Space.


As artistas Hermidia Metzler e Marrcia Mazzoni exibem o trabalho “Metamorfose da Matéria” na Galeria de Arte da Casa Thomas Jefferson e se propõem a trabalhar junto com a comunidade no programa “Criação de Soluções”. O programa tem o objetivo de abrir espaço de estímulo à criatividade por meio de encontros para apreciar arte e, assim, abrir discussões sobre desafios do mundo moderno e criação de objetos funcionais ou decorativos usando o que se tem, em vez de se comprar tudo pronto. O “Criação de Soluções” seria o primeiro programa, mas a ideia não é fazer somente um encontro e, sim, reunir um grupo para aprender em conjunto de forma bem prática. Os conhecimentos vão desde técnicas básicas até as mais diferentes e elaboradas – de acordo com o interesse e motivação do grupo. Bordado, origami, batik, crochê, customização de roupas, macramê e circuitos vestíveis são alguns dos tópicos previstos, sempre contando com a parceria de artistas que geralmente expõem na galeria. Além de aprender as técnicas, os participantes mais iniciantes nesse universo vão ganhar uma nova forma de olhar para o mundo, buscando dar outro significado aos objetos ao seu redor e até ver beleza em itens que poderiam ser descartados. Os que já desenvolvem projetos nessa linha vão ganhar um espaço de convívio e de troca com outros amantes dos trabalhos manuais. Experts e iniciantes são bem-vindos e esperamos que todos possam aprender muito uns com os outros – e estimulados por artistas e facilitadores.

A Oficina – passo a passo


5’ – Conte uma historia sobre a viagem de cientistas do instituto Smithsonian para Curaçao e o mar de plástico encontrado por eles para trabalhar a conscientização das escolhas de produtos para consumirmos e de como descartamos lixo. Ocean Trash: Marine Debris From Shore To Sea

15´ – Incentive os participantes a visitarem o site Ecosytem on the Edge para calcularem o impacto que suas escolhas de consumo causam ao meio ambiente.

2 horas – Oficina Mão na Massa – Momento para usar a criatividade e usar sucata para criar produtos bonitos que realmente despertem o interesse do público em colaboração com artistas e/ou makers locais.





Healthy Living

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Maker Movement, Smithsonian | No Comments

In September we celebrated healthy living with interesting  activities at our Resource Centers. Our staff prepared varied learning opportunities with an eye on  alternative ways to be mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy. Our super maker American Space staff  prepared lots of activities for visitors  to give them a chance to practice English in very exciting ways.Please see below what was on our plate for Healthy Living Month.

Tip –  The project tutorial suggests we use old CD cases to make the projectors. We found them hard to cut (and a bit dangerous too), so we used acetate  instead. It works beautifully!


Did you know that…?

All branches had a “did you know” poster wall with tips that went beyond common knowledge. There was a curating phase on Google drive to gather relevant pieces of information to share. The innovation department prepared eye-catching posters that were displayed around school and on our social media. Would you like to read or revisit the material? Enjoy and share.

Did you know

Pedal Powered Blenders

Have you ever heard of  Pedal Powered Blenders? You probably have. Have you ever seen one? Come to our Resource Centers and you will! We we will keep two bikes going around in October. So, you can still come and make sense of this project. See how you can transform your body`s power into another source of energy that can go back to you in a very nutritious way.   

Healthy diet

People who attended   “Living happily  ever after with lactose intolerance” Practiced English, learned about lactose intolerance and tasted delicious recipes.

11934939_885132361524011_8344127546184867246_n (1)

Food Wheel

Our staff created a game that was a visual representation of a healthy diet. People completed the wheel and learned what should be eaten most often and what should be eaten least often.  


 The Pillars of A Healthy Life

Nutritionist Rogério Barros delivered the workshop “Atividade física e alimentação equilibrada: pilares para uma vida saudável” . Besides getting exposed to great ideas participants got a gift from the local health store Bioon and tried some delicious treats.


Healthy mind

Tai chi Qi Gong Sessions in different branches. People enjoyed a bit of calm in their lives and welcomed  our Tai chi Qi Gong teacher Soraya Lacerda, who delivered this relaxing experience in English.


Healthy brain

Magic cubes were in order. We had a Mini Workshop with contestants of the world championship during break time.


Stay tuned for more fun, discovery and excitement at the American Space – Casa Thomas Jefferson and come check out what will make October the spookiest month ever! Stay healthy,    


Makers na Feira Capital Estudante

By | American Spaces, Programação | No Comments

A Casa Thomas Jefferson, o IRC e a Embaixada Americana participaram juntos da Feira Capital Estudante, evento que chega a sua quarta edição com temáticas inovadoras para auxiliar jovens em suas carreiras profissionais. O Presidente americano Barack Obama e sua primeira dama Michelle Obama estiveram na 4ª edição da Feira Capital Estudante. Os visitantes da feira foram recebidos pelos bonecos do casal no stand da Embaixada Americana e puderam tirar fotos ao lado dos dois. Estudantes contaram com o apoio do IRC para conhecer as oportunidades de estudo nos Estados Unidos. Além de graduação, inglês intensivo e cursos de curta duração, a Embaixada dos Estados Unidos também oferece possibilidades para mestrado e doutorado. Quem quiser mais informações sobre quais cursos escolher, as universidades voltadas para as áreas de seu interesse e cidades mais apropriadas para estudar já tem um endereço certo: é o EducationUSA, escritório para assuntos educacionais dos EUA, situado na Casa Thomas Jefferson da 606 Norte. Outro diferencial do espaço é o programa Jovens Embaixadores, por meio do qual a Embaixada seleciona jovens que querem modificar sua comunidade para passar um mês nos Estados Unidos desenvolvendo programas de cunho social. O stand da Embaixada Americana também contou com o apoio da equipe do Departamento de Inovação da Casa Thomas Jefferson, que falou para um grupo de estudantes do ensino médio da rede pública sobre o movimento do fazer. Os alunos ficaram encantados com as atividades de Makey Makeys, Snappy Circuits, Osmos, Squishy Circuits, entre outros, e viram como programação e o aprendizado mão na massa são importantes conceitos na cultura americana. A oficina maker terminou com os alunos sendo convidados a visitar o stand e conhecer as oportunidades de estudos na áreas STEAM: Ciência, Tecnologia, Engenharia, Arte e Matemática.

The Invention of the Electric Guitar

By | Smithsonian | No Comments

CTJ-Music-Month (1)
Libraries in the USA nowadays are dynamic learning spaces where participants have the chance to explore, get curious, and experiment. Casa Thomas Jefferson Resource Centers are in sync with the movement, and August was time to celebrate music – a very lively concept of the American Culture. We at Casa Thomas Jefferson prepared a program with rich resources from the Smithsonian Institution to explore new concepts, engage in dynamic activities, and learn new skills. As people approached the Resource centers at Casa Thomas Jefferson, they could watch a short video from the Smithsonian Institution called “Invention of Electric Guitar” that explores concepts of entrepreneurship as it shows how the process of amplifying the sound of a guitar involved many inventors and musicians working together  to develop, design, and popularize a louder instrument.

Collaboration was in the air as participants had to work in groups  to face some cool challenges specially designed for them, and many people did just that. People also had the change to be wowed by some innovative apps and Technologies while listening to great music. Check some examples out: In the activity Diving into Music, people could experiment with Google Cardboards and experience musical legends perform in VR (virtual reality). Do you have any idea what song matches your heartbeat? In The Rythm of Your Heart Participants could check their heartbeat and listen to a song with a similar beat. Cool, right? But, one of the nicest ones was called The Cup Song Challenge in which Students could watch interesting videos and face the Cup Song Challenge, which is very popular in the USA. Feeling musical and innovative yet? We surely hope so and invite you to come in September to more interesting programs.

Oficina de Arduino

By | Português | No Comments

20150807_161128Para oferecermos atividades maker com diversidade,  qualidade e excelência na programação do CTJ American Space, o fortalecimento do trabalho em equipe e capacitação continuada de nossa equipe do Resource Center da Thomas é essencial. Assim, na primeira quinzena de agosto, a equipe do RC e alguns professores participaram de um Workshop de Introdução a Arduíno e Kano

O Arduíno <link:> é uma plataforma de prototipagem, de hardware livre, montada em uma única placa eletrônica, que consiste de um microcontrolador mais outros componentes complementares que facilitam a programação e incorporação para outros circuitos. Com uma placa Arduíno, além de podermos introduzir conceitos básicos de eletrônica e também de programação (coding), podemos, por exemplo, identificar a aproximação de uma pessoa e variar a intensidade da luz do ambiente conforme a sua chegada; ou abrir as janelas de um escritório de acordo com a intensidade da luz do sol e temperatura ambiente. Após dominar a tecnologia e o raciocíncio de programação, as possibilidades são infinitas.

Já o Kano <link:> é um kit de mini computador para ser montado como se fosse um Lego. Ao montá-lo, podemos conhecer melhor a interface de hardware de um computador com suas peças básicas. A partir daí, seu sistema operacional nos inicia no caminho da codificação de forma lúdica e amigável.

E por que devemos usar tecnologias como essas em programas de nossos American Spaces? Primeiro, porque aprender a usar placas Arduino pode permitir que as pessoas encontrem soluções para problemas do dia a dia, já que ele é extremamente flexível, permitindo usá-lo repetidamente para diferentes fins. Além disso, projetos com Arduino permitem que os participantes desenvolvam competências digitais do século 21 por meio da aprendizagem colaborativa e desenvolvam sua capacidade empreendedora e de inovação que são tão características da cultura americana.

O workshop foi ministrado pelo estágiário do CTJ Maker Space da Asa Sul, Vitor Duarte. Aluno do curso de Mecatrônica da Universidade de Brasília, Vítor é um entusiasta das duas tecnologias e ao dividir conosco esse conhecimento abriu novas possibilidades de atividades a serem conduzidas em nossos Maker Spaces. Com certeza, em breve teremos atividades com ambos em nossa programação!

Arduino in American Spaces

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English | No Comments



In a rapidly changing world, powered by social media and instant information, learning opportunities can be found everywhere. Just as traditional libraries are evolving into dynamic community spaces in the United States, American Spaces must be dynamic learning centers as well. To enrich participants’ experiences in the Resource Centers, CTJ American Space is eager to use non-traditional materials to design programs and become a community center, where youth can use digital tools to explore entrepreneurship, learn English, connect art and design with social change, and learn digital artifact creation. Nowadays, there are many materials that provide opportunities to do just that, but our staff needs to build internal expertise in order to take full advantage of such materials. In August, teachers, librarians, and resource center staff were invited to participate in an interesting hands-on session to learn a bit about Arduino and how to use them in some of our programs. So, What`s Arduino and why use it in a Resource center?

Arduino is an open-source prototyping platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. They can read inputs – light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message – and turn it into an output – activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online. Arduino is the brain of thousands of projects and there is a huge community of makers (students, hobbyists, artists, and programmers) gathered around this open-source platform. Their contributions have added up to an incredible amount of accessible knowledge that can be of great help to novices and experts alike.

Why should we use Arduino in American Spaces` programs? First, Learning how to use arduino boards can enable people to find solutions to local problems. And Arduinos are extremely flexible as you can use them again and again for different purposes. Lastly, developing projects with Arduino will engage participants in a collaborative learning process and foster 21st century digital skills.

20150807_150642 11822787_903827589688913_9169798045167624633_n 11826053_903827549688917_5447081463440497887_n


Youth Innovation Camp

By | 21st Century Skills, Digital Literacy, English, Maker Movement, Programação, Smithsonian | No Comments

Logo-YIC (1)There are great ways for kids to spend their time off from school. If the activities enable participants to use their creativity to self-express, tinker, and learn new skills, it’s even better. Last July, the Binational Center Casa Thomas Jefferson, in  coordination with the U.S. Embassy, offered the community the chance to do just that. Youth Innovation Camp, Casa Thomas Jefferson’s very first summer camp, motivated participants to come to the main branch for five days and experience different learning possibilities. The themes varied from inventions, entrepreneurship, coding, 3D printing, making, and STEAM, and  all the activities offered participants the chance of engaging in rich authentic use of the English Language to learn a new set of skill and how to do or make something new. The CTJ task design team used as inspiration materials from the well known chain of museums The Smithsonian Institute to enrich participants experiences. We share here all the activities developed during the camp so that other language schools, Binational Centers, and libraries  and schools also offer little creative minds the chance to get creative and participate of the Maker Movement and redefine some learning spaces.

Youth Innovation Camp engaged participants with  immersive experiences carefully planned  by Casa Thomas Jefferson teachers  in collaboration with the  Maker Team from all  Resource Centers. During the five afternoons in each weekly edition, Casa Thomas Jefferson`s main branch effervesced Campers who were eager  to experiment with different possibilities of practical and playful learning. Various topics related to inventions , programming, 3D modeling, STEAM activities, entrepreneurship and toy making were explored. Day by day participants were wowed, discovered and learned in a playful and collaborative way. Participants realised that to create something new,  it takes just curiosity, inventiveness and not be afraid to try as many times as necessary. Our motto of the camp was: It`s ok to fail!

For the Youth Camp team, it was an immeasurable joy to have spent such creative time with the children, leading them in this adventure of discovery and the thrill of ‘learning by making’. It was very rewarding to have them with us these two weeks and notice their engagement, excitement and willingness to learn. And after the feedback received from students and parents, the feeling that remains is that we have a successfully crowned design. Hope to see you in the next Camp!

Young Entrepreneur 


Coding and 3D printing

Inventor Day


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O movimento do fazer bem de perto

By | Português | No Comments



Em uma postagem intitulada “Sim, Podemos. Mas Deveríamos? As Consequências Não Intencionais do Movimento Maker”, Allison Arieff levanta questões interessantes sobre o movimento do fazer que precisam ser abordadas. Allison fala eloquentemente sobre o movimento e o risco de causar mais danos ao ambiente do que nunca. Segundo ela, estamos em um período em que quase todos têm as ferramentas para fazer quase tudo, mas há dúvidas sobre estarmos fazendo as coisas certas ou mais e mais das coisas erradas. Ela menciona a impressão 3D e como essa tecnologia permite que uma criança de quatro anos faça um mini Darth Vader do nada. Porém, a impressora 3D consome cerca de 50 a 100 vezes mais energia elétrica do que moldagem por injeção para fazer um item com o mesmo peso. Ela também destaca o uso exagerado do plástico do filamento enquanto muitos lutam para usar menos plástico em mercados e embalagens.

Por mais interessantes que as idéias no artigo pareçam ser, o Movimento do Fazer questiona a forma como consumimos, a abundância de produtos padronizados de baixo custo e a enorme pressão que tudo isso exerce sobre o meio ambiente. A maioria das pessoas está se distanciando das experiências de fabricação. Muitos de nós vivemos com escolhas limitadas de comprar algo novo ou não fazer nada só porque acreditamos que não somos capazes de produzir coisas de valor.

Talvez seja o momento certo de nos tornarmos criadores especializados e produtores, além, claro, de consumidores conscientes. Se cada vez mais pessoas consertassem e criassem coisas de valor agregado ao invés de apenas jogar fora – e se o ambiente escolar estimulasse pessoas a criarem colaborativamente soluções para problemas locais e globais -, talvez teríamos a chance de, em um futuro breve, viver para fazer e fazer para viver!

Maker Movement under the Microscope

By | Maker Movement, Makerspaces | One Comment



On a post entitled “Yes We Can.  But Should We? The unintended consequences of the maker movement”, Allison Arieff raises interesting questions about the maker movement that need to be addressed. Allison eloquently talks about the maker movement and the risk of causing more damage to the environment than good. According to her, we’re in a period where almost anyone has the tools to make almost anything, but there are doubts whether we are making the right things or too many of the wrong ones. She also mentions the   misconception about what 3D printing does and does not enable. It allows us to delight a four-year-old by pulling a mini Darth Vader toy out of thin air, but the 3D printer consumes about 50 to 100 times more electrical energy than injection molding to make an item of the same weight. She also highlights the reverse environmental offset, counteracting recent legislation to reduce plastic use through grocery bag bans.

However interesting her ideas seem to be, the Maker Movement stresses the abundance of low-cost standardized products. Their distribution is a massive strain on our environment,  so what should we do about that? Most people are so distanced from the experiences of fabrication that we are losing the knowledge of materials and making. Many of us in developing and developed countries live with the limited choices of buying new or doing nothing just because we believe we cannot make anything of value. Our environment needs us to have a new relationship with making: critical thinking, backward-looking kind of making in which people really rethink, reuse and feel they are able to make things for themselves.

It’s high time people all over the globe became skilled creators and producers while also being wise and critical consumers. More of us should be able to repair and make things ourselves instead of just throwing things away . If we see ourselves as makers and are given the chance  to develop new ideas and solutions to local problems, we might end up reusing things others would simply get rid of. As the Maker Movement evolves, more and more people engage. One can only hope that we make the right things, and that we all live to make and make to live!





Google Cardboard Apps to Boost Program Design and Learning

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Digital Literacy | No Comments

Google Cardboard and its apps offer the easiest way to experience virtual reality today. It’s a useful tool for English language learners and teachers, for they can take advantage of this technology to boost learning experiences. Whether you want to immerse yourself in an animation, go back in time, or stand on stage with a legend, Cardboard has hundreds of options to choose from.

Cardboard consists of a low-cost, DIY virtual reality headset that everyone can make, and a software platform that makes it easy for app developers to add VR support to their creations.


Once you’ve got your cardboard, you’ll want some experiences to try out. Here’s our pick of the ten best VR-enabled apps you can find in Google Play right now to learn English.


Experience your favorite artist’s new music video as if you were right there on set, base jump off a cliff from the comfort of your armchair, and so much more, with 360 video content and your Cardboard viewer.



Expeditions lets teachers take students on field trips to anywhere. If you’re an educator, learn more about bringing Expeditions to your school.



View creations made with Tilt Brush, a painting application made for virtual reality. Load pre-made sketches and watch them draw in as they were originally created.



Experience musical legend Sir Paul McCartney performing “Live and Let Die” in 360 degrees, with stereo 3D and immersive audio in Jaunt’s first publicly released  VR experience.



The official Cardboard app is your first stop for virtual reality on your Android or iPhone. The Cardboard app lets you use any  Google Cardboard viewer with any Cardboard app, and includes a variety of immersive demos like Windy Day, an interactive animated short from Spotlight Stories.





CTJ Youth Innovation Camp – Young Entrepreneur Day

By | 21st Century Skills, Smithsonian | No Comments

There are great ways for kids to spend their time off from school. If the activities enable participants to use their creativity to self-express, tinker, and learn new skills, it’s even better. Last month, the Binational Center Casa Thomas Jefferson, in  coordination with the U.S. Embassy, offered the community the chance to do just that. Youth Innovation Camp, Casa Thomas Jefferson’s very first summer camp, motivated participants to come to the main branch for five days and experience different learning possibilities. The themes varied from inventions, entrepreneurship, coding, 3D printing, making, and STEAM. Participants had a great time working collaboratively to learn how to make something new or learn a new concept.

The Youth Innovation Camp welcomed participants from 9 to 12 years old to immerse in experiential learning and use English as a means of communication and collaboration. With this post, we start sharing all the activities developed during the camp.

The sessions had really positive feedback from parents and students.  The “young incubator” was one of the highlights. For inspiration, the design team at Casa Thomas Jefferson referred to Entrepreneur Incubator – a curriculum that provides all the instructions and guidance necessary for American Spaces to lead programs on the entrepreneurial process. The material, originally designed by the Smithsonian Institution, provides participants with relevant experiences and skills so they are better prepared to start their own businesses. However, the material was written for native English speakers. So, adapting the material was crucial for the success of this activity during the camp.

Having a young audience in mind, CTJ team adapted lesson plans to keep kids tuned.  The Smithsonian material used as reference is based on content pyramids, and each of the five Content Pyramids focuses on a different theme that is integral to the entrepreneurial process.  For the activity designed for the Youth Innovation Camp, we focused on the Development Content Pyramid. Each Concept section teaches business fundamentals while challenging participants to create sketches of their original product ideas.


See detailed lesson plan here.

Mentors thought a strong lead-in was needed; and the door in was having campers explore Google Cardboard, which is a relatively new way to experience virtual reality in a simple, fun, and affordable way. Participants were very curious and energized, so we were ready to explore important concepts.


We explored the product (Google Cardboard), its innovative features behind the concept of the product, and the brand GOOGLE itself. We analyzed demographics, aesthetic, innovative feature, core audience, mission statement, logo, etc. Having all students on board, we moved on to a brainstorm session. We had participants call out names of innovative and successful companies (e.g., Twitter, BMW, Red Bull), and for that we made a list of those brands on a large sheet of paper and posted it on a very visible area.

We moved on to a part of the lesson that  kids enjoyed tremendously. We divided the campers into groups of three. Each group received two cards with two of the listed brands on them. Participants had to choose one to represent the brand and another to define the product they were supposed to create. For example: McDonalds x Nike – participants had to think of sneakers to be sold at McDonalds or a snack to be sold by Nike. Each group worked collaboratively to define aspects such as product description, differential, distinguishing feature, and logo.

board jovem empreendedor (1)

We wrapped it all up by teaching participants how to make a video for an advertisement campaign for their product using stop motion, and it was a great pleasure to see them come up with ideas and learn storyboarding in such an enthusiastic way.

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Allowing students at American Spaces to participate in engaging activities and immerse themselves in authentic use of the English Language showed us that Makerspaces in Binational Centers serve the purpose of preparing our students to succeed as they learn new skills and work collaboratively.








Families that make together…

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Classroom | No Comments

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The semester has come to an end and we must prepare our Top Kids students for the end-of-term party, when they show their loved ones what they have learned throughout the semester. We prepare songs, play games and shows the pictures taken during classes. The kids are dying to show off, the teacher is apprehensive and eager to please and the parents are passively waiting to see their money’s worth. What the parents might not expect though, is to have the opportunity to learn themselves something new with their kids. Yet, that was my idea when preparing the following activity.

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Me and the kids had been working on parts of the house, and tired of gluing and coloring, I decided to challenge my students to make a cardboard house with different rooms. Of course, they stepped up to the challenge and it was awesome. So awesome we decided to paint our houses the following class. They loved making a toy of their own, with their own touches and details. Every class they would me if they could they could take it home and I said they had to wait for the glue or the paint to dry, but that was not entirely true.

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Finally, it was the last day of class, they knew they were going to take their houses home, but little did they know I still had plans for them. After the circle time and the presentation of the songs, I asked them to come closer and pick one item from each box: a LED light and a button battery. Surprisingly, most of them knew what they were and their parents knew how to turn on the light just touching the battery. I told them we needed to finish our house with something that was missing and they got it: a lamp! I showed them the materials at hand (paper, masking tape, play doh, popsicle sticks, tin foil and paper clips) and the two prototypes I had previously prepares and I told them they had to make one of their own.

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To my surprise and amusement, not only did the parents help the kids, but they also enjoyed it a lot! They sat on the floor, explored the materials and tinkered until they reached a satisfying result. And the results were many, not one of the lamps was remotely similar to the models. It was just amazing to realize that no matter how old we get, we all have a kid and a maker inside of us, and they like a challenge!

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Helena Galvão

Paper Month

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Sem categoria, Smithsonian | No Comments


May brought a lot of color, excitement and hands-on learning to our ‘Resource Center’. We started the month hosting a local artist called Falk Brito who taught our Resource Center team a bit of origami art. With properly trained staff, our resource centers received students, families and community to create beautiful flowers and cards for dear mothers. The school was very colorful and lively with students interested in learning the ancient art of origami. During the next three weeks, the center offered varied activities that encouraged the exploration of the renowned Smithsonian museums network content, curiosity and collaborative work. The calendar of extracurricular activities was disclosed in our social networks and shared in our schools so that everyone could enjoy the extra-curricular learning opportunities and practice the English language in different contexts. Here’s a short description of some of the activities of  Paper Month.

A Night and A Day at the Museum – Participants were invited to virtually visit  the ‘Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’ and use an Apple kit called Osmo to draw something they found at the museum. This activity was very well received by all who attended and many people were delighted with the designs that they could do using the Masterpiece application (chosen by Time as best invention of 2014).


How Things Fly – Students, families and communities explored some games about flying on The Smithsonian Airspace Museum site and learned about aerodynamics and aviation. To put the knowledge into practice, participants made their own paper airplanes and used the ‘launcher’ to fly high.



Makey Makey (Hip Hop) – With Makey Makey kits, developed at MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students learned about hip-hop and learned how to close circuits with graphite and paper and make music!

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Paper Month

By | American Spaces, Português | No Comments

Paper-Month-PosterMaio trouxe muita cor, animação  e aprendizado mão na massa para os nossos ‘Resource Centers’. Começamos o paper month com o pé direito recebendo visita do artista Falk Brito que ensinou a nossa equipe um pouco da arte de origami.  Com a equipe devidamente treinada, nossos centros de recursos receberam alunos, famílias e comunidade para criarem flores e cartões lindos para as queridas mães. A escola ficou muito colorida e animada com alunos interessados em aprender a arte milenar do origami para presentear aquelas que são uma das pessoas mais importantes em suas vidas. Durante as três  semanas seguintes, os centro ofereceram atividades diferenciadas que estimulavam a exploração de conteúdos da renomada rede de museus Smithsonian,  a curiosidade e o trabalho colaborativo. O calendário das atividades extra-curriculares foi divulgado em nossas redes sociais e divulgado em nossas escolas para que todos pudessem desfrutar das oportunidades de aprendizado extra-curriculares e praticar a lingua Inglesa em contextos diferentes e estimuladores. Curioso(a)? Aqui vai uma pequena descrição de algumas das atividades do mês do papel.

A Night and A Day at the Museum – Participantes foram convidados a visitar virtualmente o ‘Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’ e usar um kit da Apple chamado Osmo para desenhar algo que encontraram no museu. Essa atividade foi muito bem recebida por todos que participaram e muitos de encantaram com os desenhos que conseguiram fazer usando o aplicativo Masterpiece (escolhido pela Time como melhor invenção de 2014).

How Things Fly – Aluno,  famílias e comunidade puderam explorar alguns jogos do site do museu americano Smithsonian Airspace Museum e aprender sobre aerodinâmica e aviação. Para colocar os conhecimentos em pratica, participantes dobraram seus próprios aviões de papel e usaram o ‘launcher’ pra alcançar voos bem altos.

Makey Makey (Hip Hop) –  Com o kit Makey Makey, desenvolvido no MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, alunos aprenderam sobre hip-hop e aprenderam comi fechar circuito com grafite e papel.



Ensinar a Programar

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Sem categoria | No Comments

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Barack Obama e Bill Gates alertam: “aprendam a programar”! Google, Apple, Microsoft e Amazon apoiam a campanha Hour of Code que motiva alunos de todas as idades dos Estados Unidos a começar a programar.  A iniciativa, liderada pela organização sem fins lucrativos, estimula professores ou mesmo os próprios estudantes a usarem tutoriais de apenas uma hora para se iniciarem na programação. O slogan diz: “qualquer um pode programar”.

Aprender a programar não é só importante para o seu futuro, é importante para o futuro do país. É por isso que estou pedindo que você se envolva. Não apenas jogue um novo videogame. Faça um. Não apenas baixe o aplicativo mais novo. Ajude a criar um. Não apenas jogue no seu celular. Programe o jogo Barack Obama.

O aprendizado da programação tem efeitos multidisciplinares e melhora a capacidade de resolver problemas e lidar com desafios. Essas habilidades são importantes para a vida como um todo.

Mitch Resnick, criador do Scratch, um projeto do Media Lab, do MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), ensina alunos a partir dos 5 anos a dar os primeiros passos em programação. Compara-se a importância de aprender a programar com a de aprender a ler. Durante o TEDx Beacon Street no ano passado, Mitch falou que, ao aprender a ler, pode-se então ler para aprender e, ao aprender a escrever códigos, pode-se escrever códigos para aprender. Em um artigo publicado no EdSurge, completou: “Vejo a codificação (programação de computadores) como uma extensão da escrita. A capacidade de codificar permite “escrever” novos tipos de coisas como histórias interativas, jogos, animações e simulações”. Pessoas passam de consumidoras de conteúdo digital para produtoras e desenvolvem varias competências digitais e cognitivas no processo.

Nos Estados Unidos, escolas públicas atendem ao pedido do presidente e incentivam o acesso a programação. No Brasil, já se fala da  necessidade de disseminar a cultura da programação e existem muitas iniciativas. Para começar, não se precisa de muito. Alguns sites e apps, uma comunidade de pessoas que queiram aprender juntas dentro ou fora do ambiente escolar e determinação são os ingredientes necessários para codificar. Caso precise de ideias e materiais para programar com amigos e filhos, ou mesmo começar aulas na sua escola, visite o nosso site.



Earth Day – Maker Activities

By | Sem categoria | No Comments
This semester as we started a new group of English Access
Microscholarship Program students we decided to add a maker twist to our
regular enhancement activities. It was close to Earth Day, which is celebrated
on the 22nd of April. Therefore, the idea we had was to raise
environmental awareness and explore recycling as a gesture of kindness to our
mother planet. To prepare for the activity we asked students to bring
recyclable material from their homes and some of us, teachers, also brought
things to guarantee we would have plenty and varied raw material to work
On the day of the activity, Friday April 17th, we
first showed our groups a power point presentation that gave them some
information on the impact humans have on the environment. Besides that, they
also saw a short movie (from Uzoo) about some endangered species. Both the movie and the
power point presentation was followed by comprehension activities. Next, we
talked about recycling and
displayed pictures of some objects that had been
made with recyclable material. Finally, students were taken to a large room in
which we prepared a big table that had  glue, scissors, and other materials we
believed students might need to craft their recycled objects.
They were really
excited when they got there and saw the challenge lying ahead. They immediately
grabbed things and started working.  Some
of them worked in groups of four or three, there were duos, and some others
went solo. No matter how they paired up, they always exchanged ideas and shared

The outcome was a variety of useful concoctions ranging from
pencil holders, to toys, to plastic

airplanes. Students learned lots about
recycling and also that they can create things using thing that we many times
we throw in the trash and nature takes
years to decompose.

Webinar on Creating Stories with littleBits

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces | No Comments


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Information is everywhere, and it just could not be different when comes to makersapaces. To learn  about how Littlebits support learning, I attended a webinar on Creating Stories with littleBits with Kylie Peppler, Brian Pichman, and Allison Vannatta. I highly recommend it if you are trying to understand what pieces of technology to offer people to engage them in creative learning processes. Brian Pichman highlighted why libraries need to evolve and foster collaboration, innovation, and interaction. It`s a must watch to ensure our makerspaces are democratic and help people develop powerful learning skills.

Some tips were very useful

  • Use bright colors
  • Have cool pieces of furniture
  • Encourage your patros to move the furniture to fit their needs
  • Have furniture on wheels
  • Let people see the covers of the books
  • Have standing self help
  • Have cool equipment – Sphero; Littlebits;
  • Design challenges with 3D printers and robotics
  • Promote design challenges
  • Encourage open ended making



Earth Day in the Making

By | American Spaces, Makerspaces, Sem categoria | No Comments


Resource Centers in American Spaces are places to engage, surprise, and wow audiences. Not surprisingly, our dynamic learning spaces offer students and community exciting ways to celebrate  Earth Day, the annual U.S. celebration of the environment. We planned activities that motivate students to move away  from consumption and  take action against the threats that our planet faces nowadays.


Making Makers in the Language Classroom

By | Sem categoria | No Comments

More and more schools are investing in mobile devices or motivating learners to bring their own devices, for digital making engages students and gives them the chance of using technology for pedagogical aims. An activity that integrates the physical with the virtual would be asking students to create QR codes aimed at providing more web-based information about something physical. For example, a teacher might ask students to make a QR code and place it next to an object or picture. When scanned by a smartphone, the code would trigger a link to a YouTube video of the student telling a story or to a website with additional information about the place.

What we’ve noticed with this strong move toward technology is a countermovement to reground student learning and engage hands and bodies as well as minds. The maker movement advocates for making things and designing things, and the ideas behind the movement resonate well with many educators who believe in hands-on learning. However, all the possibilities could sound interesting for extra-curricular programs and be easily dismissed for Foreign Language classrooms environment.

Teachers  are usually worried about schedules and all the content they need to teach, so it’s always a bless to see the work of educators who take their time to plan activities in which students are given the luxury of time to make something together. Teacher Selma Bilbato got creative and gave a twist to her lesson about locations and directions. From there to integrating the physical with the virtual all it takes is a simple step. Imagine taking pictures of the map for a game with tinytap, for example. 100% student-centered activities that signal if the teacher is ready to engage students bodies and brains.





Squishy Circuits for Saint Patrick’s Day

By | Makerspaces | No Comments

11059314_831806730224333_4144038991195232492_nIn a demo at TED U, AnnMarie Thomas shows how two different kinds of homemade play dough can be used to demonstrate electrical properties by lighting up LEDs and spinning motors. The goal of the project is to design tools and activities which allow kids of all ages to create circuits and explore electronics using play dough.

There are some interesting ways to explore these circuits in  Resource Centers or school makerspaces. First, you can just display the LEDs, batteries and play dough so that people can experiment on their own. A good tutorial on the table could help people get started. Another option is running sessions  to build a maker mindset and foster a maker culture at the institution. Sessions could be theme based to contextualize a special date or event. Last week, we celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day by showing a video about the celebration, playing celtic music, and inviting participants to make their own electric shamrocks. Try out squishy circuits because they are good tools to help librarians  get started and enrich the users` experience at Resource Centers and libraries.


Por onde começar um ‘makerspace’

By | Makerspaces, Português | No Comments

Por vezes a curiosidade abre novos


O movimento do fazer e a filosofia Maker dá aos educadores a chance de fomentar em jovens e crianças o prazer pela descoberta. Crianças de uma forma geral têm a predisposição de colocar a mão na massa, mas precisam muitas vezes da ambiência e de ferramentas para explorar seu potencial. A Casa Thomas Jefferson, junto à Embaixada dos Estados Unidos e ao Instituto Smithsonian, reorganiza as bibliotecas e as transforma em espaços colaborativos e dinâmicos de aprendizado.  Compartilhamos aqui algumas dicas para pessoas ou instituições que pretendam criar ambiências onde jovens brasileiros possam explorar atividades extracurriculares que estimulam a criatividade e os garantem a possibilidade de vivenciar na pratica assuntos que, em métodos mais tradicionais de ensino, somente veriam na teoria.

Comece pelo começo

Não importa o que você tem – muito ou pouco. O que importa é que você mergulhe e comece a criar. Se você tem ferramentas, coloque-as à disposição dos alunos para trabalhar e construir algo; faça alguma coisa com o que você tem ao alcance das mãos. Sessões de ‘Free making’ podem ser muito interessantes para os alunos. Quantos dos nossos jovens já tiveram a oportunidade de abrir um brinquedo quebrado e construir algo? Ou quantos já se envolveram em uma construção coletiva? A hora é agora!

 Comece pequeno

É tentador querer fazer tudo de uma vez, sair comprando circuitos, motores, impressora 3D, etc., mas todo esse equipamento pode sobrecarregar os participantes e frear o entusiasmo. Começar pequeno permite iniciar mais rápido, errar e aprender com os erros. A falha é necessária para a construção de um espaço colaborativo. Projetos mão na massa são muito divertidos, mas os alunos enfrentarão dificuldades que podem desencorajar alguns. Incentive-os a perseverar. Ensine-os a interagir, corrigir erros e começar de novo. Os alunos devem aprender a aceitar o fracasso como parte do processo.

Construa para si mesmo

Deixem os alunos construírem dispositivos, jogos e projetos para próprio uso. Dê aos alunos a oportunidade de criar ou reinventar as coisas e se tornarem consumidores mais conscientes.Incentive seus alunos a sair de suas zonas de conforto, sujar as mãos e vivenciar a criação do divertimento. Os alunos geralmente adoram saber fazer coisas e criar jogos ao invés de baixá-los da internet. Toda essa experiência pode abrir as portas da criatividade.

The Maker Movement and English Language Teaching

By | Classroom | No Comments

The Maker movement has inspired teachers to explore interesting new tools and materials like robots, 3D printing, e-textiles, etc.  However, its focus on digital fabrication, hands-on craftsmanship, and programming seem perfect for STEAM, and not feasible for English Language Teaching.  ELT teachers wonder how they can integrate STEAM principles into their teaching reality and why they should do that.

Making something of value is thrilling and exciting, and maker activities in English schools can build problem solving skills, promote opportunities for meaningful exchange of information, and genuinely motivate students to use the target language to convey meaning. English language teachers have always used hands-on activities, but now we might do it interdisciplinary and focus on tasks that motivate learners to take the role of producers of shareable content and learning artifacts.

Last week, I co-presented a mini-course called Make it in the Classroom, and I asked Paola Hanna, a teacher at Casa Thomas Jefferson, to share some of her insights with the audience. She had a verb tense spinning wheel, and she used it as a model for students to make a learning artifact to learn collocations. Watch the following video for an overview of what happened and hear what Paola’s take on this task is.

How to Make your First Electric Car

By | American Spaces, Classroom | No Comments


When I asked a student what he thought about making his own car, he told me that what he enjoyed the most was showig  everyone “the process he went through [and] the work he put into it.…”

This kid for sure has many nice toys at home, but it is simply fun when you make something you’re really proud of and other people are interested in it and give you compliments. 

Ideally, you provide the materials and let students tinker and design their own prototypes so that they experience what exploring and making is all about.

If you are a language teacher, you could use this activity to teach superlative and comparative forms of adjectives. Students could create their cars and have a race to practice language. Alternatively, you could start making the car and having a race; Students will probably need to use comparative and superlative forms, and they might start using it (with teachers help) before being formally exposed to it.

What you’ll need


How to make it

How to Make Your First Wearable Circuit

By | American Spaces, Classroom, English, Sem categoria | No Comments

1235950_10155029437205107_6780974537386070107_n     Making simple wearable circuits is usually a big hit in makerspaces. This simple project might entice young makers and empower them to set creativity free and experiment with different materials. You could ask  children to make masks, monsters, hats, stuffed animals, or let them play freely. 241125_764018243669849_5141205968619777668_o If you are a language teacher, you could carry out one of the following tasks:

  • Ask students to create characters for  storytelling.
  • Have students make their own monsters to practice describing features.
  • Have students create a product and advertize it using modal verbs.

Here is what you will  need for this project. 10264036_774295072642166_1059743152918155543_o

How to Make an Electric Insect

By | American Spaces, Classroom, English, Sem categoria | No Comments

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The idea of making your own circuit is very empowering. There is something magical about being able to make something for the first time, and people who engage in these kind of activites learn much more than circuitry; They learn that they can actually sit down and try to understand how things around us work.

This is a simple maker project that you can offer in your makerspace to reach different learning goals. In a language class, a teacher might propose this task as aprompt for a writing activity, teach narratives, or build a sense of community, for people will need to interact to succeed.

What you will  need:


Tools; hot glue,soldering iron and solder



Display all the materials on the table and ask participants to tinker. Do not show them how to do it, but ask questions to trigger thinging.

How to Make a Doodler

By | American Spaces, Classroom, English, Maker Movement | No Comments


When Glauco Paiva told us to build a doodler, I had no idea where to start. I could see all the materials on the table and some people seemed to know what they were doing. Feeling a little lost at first, I decided to get my hands dirty and started my project. So, every time someone celebrated an accomplishment, I went there and tried to learn from it. Slowly, my own doodler got ready and I could also celebrate and see first-hand how rewarding it is to learn collaboratively. I felt the thrill and excitement of making something functional, and students who experience this feeling might be more involved and attentive. My take on this activity is that there is something very exciting about making something from scratch, and hands-on learning followed by reflective practice might boost and deepen learning. If you are a language teacher just like me, you might be wondering how to use such an activity in your language school or lesson. Here are some suggestions:

What you need

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  • Ask students to write a narrative using past tenses or a sequence paragraph.
  • Teach conditionals.
  • Practice reported speech by reporting the interaction among people during the activity.



Bibliotecarias do seculo 21

By | American Spaces, Português, Projetos | No Comments

Sexta passada Carla Arena, Fabricio Freire e eu falamos  para as bibliotecárias da casa Thomas Jefferson sobre três principais assuntos que dizem respeito a como transformar ao nossas bibliotecas em espaços dinâmicos de aprendizado. Começamos com a nossa diretora, Lucia santos, sobre a importância de ter novos espaços de aprendizado na nossa instituição. Em seguida, Aida Carvalho contextualizou as mudanças que bibliotecas sofreram através do tempo. Ela falou sobre o que é esperado de uma biblioteca moderna e nos mostrou um TED Talk muito interessante sobre este tema.


Eu comecei falando um pouco sobre o movimento do fazer e sem demora passamos para a parte pratica. Participantes aprenderam juntos a fazer um circuito de LED e iluminaram um cartão natalino. A experiência foi muito poderosa, pois todos vivenciaram como é importante trabalhar junto e vencer obstáculos em grupo. Na segunda parte da minha fala falei um pouco sobre a importância de oferecer espaços de aprendizado onde a comunidade pode participar da escolha de atividades. Falamos das diversas atividades oferecidas nos Makerspaces mundo afora. Para encerrar, fizemos uma sessão de ‘Design Thinking’ e todos pensaram em propostas de atividades para o próximo ano.

Carla Arena falou sobre agregadores de conteúdo e de como os espaços de aprendizado devem ser espaços que incentivam e surpreendem; Fabricio encerrou o dia com conceitos de design seguido de parte pratica onde as pessoas fizeram convites usando o aplicativo Phoster para melhoras a comunicação visual da biblioteca. Se você se interessa pelos tópicos e deseja aprender mais, siga o site e entre em contato conosco.

How to Make a LED Powered Card

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The idea of making your own circuit is very empowering. There is something magical about being able to make something for the first time, and people who engage in these kind of activites learn much more than circuitry. They learn that they can actually sit down and try to understand how things around us work.

This is a simple maker project that you can offer in your makerspace to reach different learning goals. In a language class, a teacher might propose this task as a follow up for a writing activity, teach narratives, or build a sense of community, for people will need to interact to succeed.

What you will  need:


Procedure :

Show a card and go over the process briefly. Make sure you tell participants that they will NOT follow instructions because the idea is to make and learn with their peers. Let students tinker and help each other. If someone gets stuck you might ask questions like:Look at this card. Where does the power come from? Which side is the negative?



Be a Maker Kid

By | English, Maker Movement | No Comments





With his right hand, my 11-year-old son presses the red-hot soldering iron against the tiny motor. With his left hand, he guides a thin, tin wire until it’s pressing against both the motor and the tip of the iron.

As tin begins to melt, there is some smoke, and a metallic smell drifts back to where I am standing behind him and all the other kids in the room. I have to confess that I get a bit nervous, but I am at ease because I can feel the thrill students get from the act of making something.

These children live in a world in which the objects around us are complex. We have gadgets in our pockets, but we do not have a clue about how they work. Kids buy toys and toss them aside when they break. And, not many parents encourage tinkering and opening things up. To help students slow down and lead them to a very different way of thinking about the world, we decided to run a toy making workshop and started a campaign called Be a Maker Kid  at Casa Thomas Jefferson this year.

The workshop is part of a much larger phenomenon called the Maker Movement. The Maker Movement has grown into a global community of tinkerers, programmers and designers joined by the simple satisfaction they get from making stuff and sharing what they create. The goal is to teach kids a wide range of digital and analog skills: computer programming, 3-D printing, and sewing and drawing.

Beyond the skills they learn, kids learn an important lesson: that the act of creating something can be incredibly educational and deeply gratifying in a way that buying something off the shelf never will be.

We are committed to sharing everything we learn about the maker movement, so if you are interested in running a similar workshop in your institution. read the tips below.

Advertise the event in your social media and around school with interesting posters.

Give a ticket to each student who donates a broken toy.

Send an invitation

Choose a project your students might enjoy (see some examples below)

Electric car – Electric insect – Doodler – LED powered card

Involve school staff for the tinkering part

Have lots of fun, and record your students’ suggestions and what they learned with the activity.