American Spaces


Democracy Day – Teacher’s VOICE

By | American Spaces, Makerspaces | No Comments

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

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


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


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.




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.



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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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”

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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


Green Nation Fest

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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

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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.


Rereading Famous Paintings

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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

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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


IMG_0209 (2)





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Soft opening Makerspace Asa Norte

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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.



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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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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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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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!


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.

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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.


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.




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.

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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.

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.

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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.




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.



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.


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.

Aprendendo a programar

By | American Spaces, Português, Programação | No Comments

Você já foi surpreendido pela rapidez com que uma criança aprende como usar um tablet ou celular? No vídeo acima, uma menina muito jovem, parece já ter compreendido muito. O que ela faz tão bem ilustra o que Seymour Papert e Paulo Freire dizem quando eles mencionam a importância de libertar o potencial de aprendizagem latente dos alunos ao proporcionar  ambientes onde suas paixões e interesses prosperem. As verdadeiras razões para defender o uso de computadores nas escolas não são tecnocêntricas. Na verdade, as verdadeiras razões são realmente práticas. Meu filho, por exemplo, adorava o jogo Minecraft, e ele aprendeu a fazer coisas maravilhosas dentro do jogo que tinham valor para a sua comunidade. Ele aprendeu a gravar sua tela, editar, e fazer um blog colaborativo para compartilhar suas idéias. Sua construção do conhecimento aconteceu muito rapidamente e ele aprendeu sozinho, publicou e compartilhou seu conteúdo. Eu simplesmente não vejo o mesmo acontecendo quando se trata da escola. Outra coisa a considerar é que ele também aprendeu sobre a mineração, química e até mesmo física. Será que estamos às vezes privando os alunos da diversão por trás da aprendizagem quando lhes pedimos para se sentar em silêncio e ouvir? Será que eles realmente internalizam o conteudo ou ficam se perguntando quando eles vao usar toda aquela informacao? Eu estava contando a um amigo sobre escolas nos EUA, Austrália e Inglaterra que ensinam as crianças a programar, e ela me fez a seguinte pergunta:

Será que todas as crianças se tornam programadores?

Para mim, aprender a programar é aprender a pensar de uma maneira nova e comecar a aprender como controlar o computador. Hoje em dia, a codificação é para todos, e ensina a criatividade, cooperação e persistência. Se você se interessa por esse assunto e gostaria de explorer alguns aplicativos feitos para crianças e jovens, explore a imagem abaixo.