How a Maker Faire Can Boost your Makerspace

By | Food for thought, Maker Faire, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Sem categoria | No Comments

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


Have a Plan

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

Get inspired by the drop-in stations

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

Think carefully about what you will take home

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

See some photos here.


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

Makerspace & EFL | Unique Learning Experiences

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

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


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

What you need in terms of materials

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


Figuring it out

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

Developing a sensitivity to design

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

Learning from tools and from others

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

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



Prototyping for Disability Rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Educational Assistive Technology with CIL 2 - Day 1


Galaxy of Oppotunities :: Galáxia de Oportunidades

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

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

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

Galáxia de Oportunidades

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

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

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


ACCESS Maker Camp

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

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


Inspirational Talk

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


In small groups, all participants attended five experiential stations.

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

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

Workshops – laser cutting and making circuit boards

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

Human Library

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


ACCESS Maker Camp

Glowing firefly- vector illustration

Enriching Teacher XP | Professor Fazedor

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

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

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

EFL Learning | Maker XP 

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



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.



Strengthening Public School learning Experience

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

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

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

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

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



Maker Centered Learning in Resource Centers

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

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

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

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



Larissa Goulart

Resource Center – Casa Thomas Jefferson Asa Sul

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

Larissa Goulart

Resource Center –  Casa Thomas Jefferson Asa Sul


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

Thaíse Nogueira

Resource Center  - Casa Thomas Jefferson Águas Claras


Strengthening BNC Network

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

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

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

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

BNCs  Educational sessions


Thomas Griggs at “Centro Interescolar de Línguas”

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

Thomas Griggs

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

CTJ Makerspace

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

Innovative English Language Programming

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

Thomas Griggs


Access Students at CTJ Makerspace

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

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

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




“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.


Goldberg Machine

By | Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Smithsonian | No Comments

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

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


Youth Innovation Camp – 2016

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

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

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


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

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

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

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Soft opening Makerspace Asa Norte

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

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

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

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

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



Makerspace na Casa Thomas Jefferson

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

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

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

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




Storytelling in the Making

By | English, Makerspaces, Sem categoria | No Comments


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

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

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

Project on Scratch

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Para Amplificar

By | Maker Movement, Makerspaces | No Comments

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

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

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

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

Nosso cardápio de atividades do fazer oferece experiências com:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dribbble Meet Up

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

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

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

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

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

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BIGBITS_Circuit boards_Handbook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exploratorium Activites Ideas

Exploratorium Courses at Coursera

Circuit Boards “BigBits”  Handbook

Electrical Components Stores (Online)

Maker Movement under the Microscope

By | Maker Movement, Makerspaces | One Comment



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

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

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




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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Earth Day in the Making

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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.


Squishy Circuits for Saint Patrick’s Day

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

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


Por onde começar um ‘makerspace’

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Por vezes a curiosidade abre novos


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

Comece pelo começo

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

 Comece pequeno

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

Construa para si mesmo

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