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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.


Maker Faire NY

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

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

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

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

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


Experiencing  the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat with Gurulino

By | Narrativas Incríveis, Sem categoria | No Comments

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

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


Pedro Sangeon |

The Program

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

Storytelling – Getting to know Gurulino

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

Laser cut in an art workshop

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




The first room – Virtual Reality in the mix

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

The first room – Virtual Reality in the mix

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


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

The second room – Human Anatomy and Basquiat

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


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


The third room – Questioning beauty

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

The fourth room – The king of Remix

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


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

WSP Basquiat w/ Gurulino


10 Tips to Get Your Makerspace Started

By | Classroom, Maker Movement, Problem Solving, Sem categoria, teacher training | No Comments

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


About the Maker Movement

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

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


Tips to get your makerspace started

1. Any space can become a makerspace

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  Understand maker-centered educational roots and connections

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

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

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

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

But the differences are worth noting

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

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

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


6. Experience inspirational learning communities

7. Explore Apps and Tools for creators

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

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

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

10. Be generous and share your learning path.


Freedom of Press, 2018 | Collaborative Program Design

By | English, Narrativas Incríveis, Sem categoria | No Comments

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

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

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

Made with Padlet


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


Freedom of Press | at Casa Thomas Jefferson

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

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

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


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


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



CTJ’s Resource Centers

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


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

See photos of CTJ makerspace in action

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


Maker Activities to Boost Language Acquisition

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

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

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

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

 Let  children experience maker activities.

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

 Design Challenges

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


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


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.



Making My First Robot | Meu Primeiro Robô

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

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

What are the qualities we value in this activity?

Science and Art Connection

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

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

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

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

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

O que  valorizamos nesta atividade?

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

Conexão do Mundo Real

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

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

Making My Fist Robot


Mother’s Day | Dia das Mães

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Dia das Mães Maker


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

Veja alguns dos projetos feitos aqui



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.


Be the Change You Want to See in Educational Settings

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

We invite you to consider the following questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building Internal Expertise


Strengthening BNC Network

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

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

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

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

BNCs  Educational sessions


Augmented Reality and Wildlife Conservation

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

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

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



Thomas Griggs visita Centro Interescolar de Línguas

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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”

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

Thomas Griggs

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

CTJ Makerspace

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

Innovative English Language Programming

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

Thomas Griggs


Access Students at CTJ Makerspace

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

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

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




Green Nation Fest

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

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

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

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

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

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

See more in the video below









Site tumb

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.


Storytelling in the Making

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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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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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Ensinar a Programar

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

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.57.56 PM

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

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

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

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

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



Earth Day – Maker Activities

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

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

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

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.


Making Makers in the Language Classroom

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

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

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





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

photo 2

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 LED Powered Card

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

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

What you will  need:


Procedure :

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



Todo mundo pode ser um fazedor

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Dizem que professores estão preparando alunos para trabalhos que ainda não existem. Muitos falam que professores devem ajudar alunos a serem responsáveis pelo próprio aprendizado e desenvolverem o pensamento lógico para resolver problemas que enfrentarão no futuro. Mas escolas mundo afora continuam usando didática bastante tradicional onde o professor tem papel central na atividade ensinar e deve expor e interpretar o conteúdo. Ao o aluno cabe o papel de ouvir e cumprir os exercícios repetitivos, pois assim poderão gravar a matéria e depois reproduzir-la  em questionamentos feito pelo professor ou em provas.

Educadores que acreditam que alunos devam ser estimulados a pensar e se comunicar tem o movimento do fazer como aliado  em escolas mundo afora. O Movimento Maker na educação abre espaço para a experimentação e coloca o aluno na frente do seu processo de aprendizagem. Pesquisadores como Vygovysky e Piaget já falaram da necessidade de aprender colaborativamente e da Zona de desenvolvimento proximal.

O movimento do fazer, bastante difundido nos Estados Unidos, começa a ser discutido no Brasil. A Embaixada dos Estados Unidos convidou Glauco Paiva para  inspirar professores a buscar soluções para uma pratica educacional prioritariamente conteudista.  Ele nos contou da sua experiência com crianças quando aprendem juntos conceitos, que em métodos mais tradicionais, somente aprenderiam em teoria.  Nós professores montamos circuitos, criamos brinquedos movidos a bateria e deixamos  a criatividade fluir. Nos colocamos no papel do aluno e conversamos sobre o quanto mais interessantes as aulas podem ser se acrescentarmos um componente de experimentação. Abaixo estão os links para algumas das atividades propostas que podem ser exploradas em salas de  aula de diversas matérias para diversos conteúdos.

Carrinho automático

Insectoide criativo

Circuitos para vestir

Canetas robóticas



Maker Meets Teachers

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64785_10155029437135107_5618383285029338160_n 10394035_10155029437075107_6397536565619454564_n 10408715_10155029437560107_1469049549322442522_nI feel very sad when I notice that my children are becoming avid consumers of everything made in China. I believe children should be curious about what is inside the devices we use, how the house appliances around us work, and think about the environment.

I am very excited about the Maker Movement. The more I look into it, the more I believe that it’s very important to our future. It has the potential to turn more and more people into makers instead of just consumers.

So what is the Maker Movement?

The maker movement is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers. The creations stir the imagination of consumers that are often tired of generic, mass-produced products. The making is as much fun as the playing, and imagination, when triggered, can lead to more tinkering, and more inventions.

Last week, The US Embassy brought to Brasilia Glauco Paiva, a maker who loves democratizing maker kits, ideas and concepts. He started talking to a group of teachers from Casa Thomas Jefferson, Colégio Militar, and Centro de Ensino Ceilândia 26 at the IRC, and in no time turned the library into a dynamic learning space. We started by talking about pedagogy, hands on learning, and listening to Glauco tell us how easy it is to understand the concept of Zone of Proximal Development when you offer students an activity that involves making and learning at the same time.

10801951_762669793804694_3629100874132611237_n dani 1410716_762669803804693_1165750205381141658_o 10688441_762669810471359_1969195180220642612_o

As I walked into the room and looked at the groups working, I realized that teachers in Brazil might feel encouraged to use these kind of activities in schools to motivate students to create products instead of only consuming them.  Moving people from being consumers only to creators is critical to our future.


Christmas in the Making

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Building a maker mindset in schools motivates people to become makers, give it a try and take things apart to try to do things that even the manufacturer did not think of doing. While technology has been the spark of the Maker Movement, it has also become a social movement that includes all kinds of making and all kinds of makers, connecting to the past as well as changing how we look at the future. Teachers who embrace the movement witness how students learn from others, what zone of development is in practice, and how important it is to foster collaboration and creativity.

Read below about making in class from a teacher`s perspective.

SONY DSCHelena Galvão -It´s the end of the semester, and we begin to say good-bye to our groups. At Casa Thomas Jefferson, we have the opportunity of having our Kids groups for a whole year; we get to watch our students’ development closely, which makes us (teachers and students) eager to show their families how far we have come. For that reason, at CTJ, we throw an end-of-term party on the last day of class. We prepare for weeks, we practice songs, we make a portfolio, and we tidy our classroom to get ready to showcase our English skills. After singing songs and showing pictures, there is usually a lot of time left and, as a teacher, we like to enjoy that precious time to involve family members and students in a meaningful activity to wrap-up the semester.

Having that objective in mind, we came up with an idea for an arts and crafts activity: making a snow globe, but we didn’t want to simply give instructions to be followed. Having a maker mindset to guide us, we thought of giving family members and students a set of different materials (paper, popsicle sticks, sequins, glue, glitter-glue, cotton, ribbons, etc.) for them to decide how to make their own original Christmas tree. Of course we didn’t leave them in the dark, we gave them a whole sort of visual references to spice up their creativity. There was a catch though; they had to construct a tree that would fit inside a glass globe. At this point, we didn’t explain why the tree had to fit the globe, but they soon started to realize what they were about to make.

The kids approached the tables with the materials shyly, whereas their family members didn´t approach them at all. We had to invite family members to join the kids who were, at this point, sorting through the big amount of options they had. Some had an idea and followed through with it; some had to tweak their ideas in order to make them work; some had to start again, for their first idea hadn’t worked out; some had to make the tree smaller; but all of the teams were able to accomplish the task.

It came as no surprise that the teams managed to give up their reluctance and shyness and finish their trees; the biggest surprise was that the teams started blending and helping each other. It started because of two little kids who didn’t have any family members around, and it went on because a mother had a baby on her lap and someone needed to help her kid. Fact is, I turned around to close the first snow globe and when I turned back I saw about twenty people working together and sharing.

In order to accomplish what I had hoped for in this end-of-term party, I had to plan in advance carefully, but the best part of the party was definitely the unexpected outcome of challenging people: the community feeling that makes them share. Well, if that is not Christmas spirit, I don’t know what is.


Crianças em dias de chuva

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Nada é mais apreciado pelos pequenos do que os pais sentados envolvidos em um projeto mão na massa. Sempre que sento com a minha menina percebo o seu potencial criativo e que ela acredita que o que se imagina pode ser construído. Dias de chuva são um convite para atividades em família que envolvem todos, estimulam a criatividade e tiram o foco do consumismo. Veja abaixo algumas coisas que podemos fazer com material reciclado que certamente deixarão os pequenos engajados enquanto a chuva cai lá fora.

Crie brinquedos com caixas de papelão 

Contando historias com pedrinhas

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 11.24.45 AM

Crie brinquedos

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 11.36.35 AM

 Crie presentes com lâmpadas queimadas

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 11.48.50 AM







2014-09-19 12.41.34

Quem são os fazedores?

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2014-09-19 12.41.34

O movimento do fazer ganha mais e mais espaço em escolas, bibliotecas e museus em todo o mundo. Ele representa um resgate a experimentação na educação e a construção de aprendizado coletivo. Pais e educadores  podem ajudar a formar ‘makers’, pessoas que se percebem como capazes de fazer, criar, transformar. Mas o que são os fazedores? No que eles acreditam?

Fazedores acreditam que podem dar novo propósito a objetos que nos cercam.

Acreditam que se podem imaginar algo, podem faze-lo.

Nao se veem como meros consumidor

Gostam de concertar, remendar, criar, e entender como as coisas acontecem.

São curiosos e gostam de aprender coisas novas.

Encantam os outros pela sua engenhosidade

Fazedores são generosos e celebram as criações de outros fazedores.

São proativos e criativos.

A lista remete a um perfil nao só necessário mais fundamental para alunos que estão sendo educados hoje para enfrentar um mercado de trabalho diferente do que temos hoje em dia. O movimento do fazer em escolas forma alunos mais preparados para enfrentar os desafios futuros, mas como criar um espaço do fazer? Fazedores são generosos, e disponibilizam todo o percurso do aprendizado. visite abaixo alguns links interessantes para aprender como montar o seu espaço.

Makerspace Playbook






Brown Bag Challenge – Rocket Cars

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rocket cars

As libraries around the world become more dynamic learning spaces, our classrooms and resource centers must offer participants opportunities to engage in collaborative, hands-on, interdisciplinary activities. To create new learning spaces you could make the bags and display them on a shelf for people to tinker with, use them for classroom activities, or create events in your institution to build a maker mindset.


Rocket Cars

In this challenge students get the materials on the label and race against time to finish the task in twenty minutes or less. To promote more practice and engagement, you could ask them to record tutorials or do a show and tell.


Brown Bag Challenge – Windmill

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As libraries around the world become more dynamic learning spaces, our classrooms and resource centers must offer participants opportunities to engage in collaborative, hands-on, interdisciplinary activities. To create new learning spaces you could make the bags and display them on a shelf for people to tinker with, use them for classroom activities, or create events in your institution to build a maker mindset.



In this challenge students get the materials on the label and race against time to finish the task in twenty minutes or less. To promote more practice and engagement, you could ask them to record tutorials or do a show and tell.


It works!!!!!


STEM Engineering Challenges for English Schools

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Photo 04-11-14 13 44 18 (1)

We have been adapting STEM Engineering Challenges for our English school, for nothing feels quite so exciting in any learning space as the productive buzz when students are passionately tackling a challenge. This sort of hands-on, mind-on learning promotes critical thinking, real world problem solving, and addresses a host of STEM content, which makes language production authentic and collaborative.

Planning a lesson with the Maker Movement in mind demands a combination of practicality and creativity, and the best way to help educators and institutions to start the maker movement is to network and collaborate.  In this spirit, here we share a list of some brown bag challenges we have already tried out in English language classrooms. See list of materials here. For more info and directions open the links below on the post



Floating ball

Rocket cars

iPhone Speaker

Marshmallow Towers

Pom Pom Cannons

Paper Helicopters

Roller Coasters

Paperclip Sailboats

Building Windmills


Zip Lines

Solar Ovens

Lunar Landers



ACCESS Students and the Maker Movement

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I have been leaning a lot about the maker movement, and how we can use the concepts behind it to teach American cultural aspects and the English language in American spaces/English schools. So when I was invited to deliver an enhancement workshop for Access students at Casa Thomas Jefferson last week I was very excited. I understood it could be a great chance to try something new. The English Access Micro Scholarship Program (Access) provides a foundation of English language skills to 13-20 year-olds from an economically disadvantaged background through after-school classes and intensive sessions.  Access helps participants develop English skills that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects. Participants also gain the ability to compete for and participate in future exchange and study programs in the United States.

My role in the session was to have students experience a hands-on activity and engage in a task collaboratively.  I brought with me Makey Makey kits, we talked about Halloween and I asked them what the connection between pumpkins and Halloween is. I asked them if it would be possible to turn vegetables or fruits into musical instruments, and I noticed they were curious and engaged. I told them it was possible if they had the right tools, gave each group a laptop computer, a Makey makey kit, vegetables, and some time to collaborate. They participated eagerly, failed, tried again, and learned not only some of the concepts behind the technical part of the activity but also that they are stronger when they work together, and that making an effort to achieve a goal is worthwhile and very reassuring. These students spoke English as a tool to engage in collaborative learning and may be curious enough to learn more about circuitry or computer programming.


The Maker Movement in English Language Schools

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Can you describe an activity you really enjoyed at school?

I have been asking many people the very same question, and the answers share something in common. Can you guess what the question is?

  • My oldest daughter told me it was the day she built a feudal castle;
  • Antonio, the IT guy at school, told me about the day he built a functional mini hydropower plant with leds.
  • My husband told me about wood work projects.
  • I remember making ‘brigadeiros’ for a school party.

Coincidences? I do not think so… Human being are curious beings, and learn much better when genuinely engaged.  The maker movement inspires people to think like scientists and engineers, explore, tinker and collaborate to find solutions to local problems. Many schools in the USA already work with the STEAM model, but here in Brazil it is very new. It`s easy to get enthusiastic about the making in classrooms, but how to transfer all that to our educational system, how to organize great after school programs, and most important, how to let students explore and practice curiosity?

“I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, whether it’s science festivals, robotics competitions, fairs that encourage young people to create and build and invent—to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.” 
President Obama on June 17, 2014

Build a Maker Mindset with Makey Makey

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MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. With the kits, we can turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple tool for beginners and experts to have loads of fun and begin experimenting. What about making music with bananas? What about conducting electricity with your hands? Jay Silver, MIT PhD and the co-inventor of Makey Makey, shows us how to hack everyday objects and have students practice curiosity and invention. Read more about Jay’s approach to education:…

We heard about Makey Makey and decided to use this amazing tool in one of our funshops.  The idea was to arise students’ curiosity, start building a maker mindset, and let people know we will have Makey Makey kits available for them to explore with  in school. We bought three kits, and we  got lots of help from Brasilia Fab Lab to get this funshop going for the first time. We share here everything we learned so that you too can run this amazing session in your institution and get the Maker Movement started.

We had tables set up in our common area, and any student could just hang out with us and play around with the Makey Makey kits. We had the funshop in the week before halloween, so we decorated the tables and used punkins as drum sets.

What you will need:

A table and a laptop computer for each Makey Makey kit.

We chose to work on the piano keyboard, and the drum sets, but there are many other options you could choose from right here.We downloaded the software beforehand so that we would not need to rely on wi-fi connection during the workshop.

Teachers to interact with the kids in English and show them how much fun Makey Makey is!

Practice a little with the kits before to get familiar, and be ready to tell participants how come the vegetables produce sound!

Students were VERY curious, and eager to learn more, which is a great way to get started with the Maker Movement, and engage students in different activities that start happening in different parts of school.



Movimento maker e a educação básica

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Em uma palestra, o brasileiro Paulo Blinkstein, que trabalha na universidade de Stanford,  fala sobre inovação e do que pensa do sistema educacional no Brasil.  Ele respondeu algumas perguntas depois da palestra que são relevantes para educadores interessados em mudar um pouco a maneira de ensinar, e fazer as ideias de educadores como Paulo Freire e Piaget mais presentes em suas salas de aula. O professor conta como acha importante que a escola seja motivadora e de como considera um clichê a fala de que a escola precisa preparar para o vestibular. Ele sugere que 20% do tempo das crianças na escola seja usado para incentivar a inovação e a criatividade e do impacto que isso teria na educação brasileira. Segundo o professor, a velocidade das coisas é tão grande que o Brasil precisa investir tanto na educação básica quanto na educação mais inovadora para não ficar muito mais atrasado ainda se comparados a outros países. Ouça o que o professor tem a dizer nessa breve entrevista abaixo.

Qual o diagnostico do Brasil em relação a inovação na educação?

Qual a necessidade de banda larga nas escolas?

Como aproximar temas de tecnologia e inovação da educação básica de jovens menos favorecidos?

Se o Brasil tem tantos problemas básicos, por que investir em inovação na educação?



Sharpen Presentational Skills

By | 21st Century Skills, English, Sem categoria | No Comments



Nowadays, information is everywhere, and learning is also a click away. With enormous amount of possibilities within anyone’s range, it’s high time  libraries redifined their roles and became lively, interesting, and colllaborative learning spaces. The public that comes to a resource center might be looking for an opportunity to learn different skills and socialize. In English schools, students come to have an experience; they come to learn how to communicate for fun, and for business. Modern libraries within English schools might offer students the chance to boost their digital skills, and offer them the chance to become competent users of the target language in different settings. If you are interested in running a workshop at your institution that aims at sharpening your audience’s presentation skill, this post might come in handy.

What we give you:

Lesson plan - varied multi media plan to wow your participants. Students will watch a catchy video on how to present like Steve Jobs, dive into interesting resources that will trigger lots of interaction, and plan their own presentatiopn using the tips explored throughout the lesson. Teachers guide

What you’ll need:

Invite your students via social media, posters, and formal invitation in their classrooms

Choose a time that you believe students will be able to come (before or after class)

A teacher to deliver the session

English speaking librarians to interact with participants

Ipads, computers, or participants own devices to connect to the web



Making Personalized Games

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Amazing new tools, apps, materials, and skills turn us all into makers. Making in the classroom promotes learning that originates from direct experience. Educators worldwide agree that cognitively engaged students learn faster and many times free of behavioral issues so common in the traditional school environment. To get people in the educational system to agree with educators like Piaget, Dewey, and Montesorri is easy, but the question that lingers is how to bring back experiential learning when we need to deal with standardized tests, teaching for the tests, and the decrease of play and time to do projects. The answers are out there, and the shift towards experiential leaning come back is easy to spot in social media and the news. Small steps, and effort to change what needs to be changed is our way out of brick and mortar dull classrooms. Mobile learning is an easy way to start, since there are great apps out there nowadays for teachers to take advantage and bring to their classrooms the kind of learning that involves engagement, design , and building.

From my experience, Tinytap, an app created by an Israeli startup, provides the path for educators to create engaging learning opportunities to help students not only develop content related knowledge but also get empowered to use their creativity to learn how to learn and share what they make online with a rich and growing community.

This platform is a pearl because learners can easily create and play fun, interactive games from their own pictures and videos for their peers. Students can also make quizzes and games for younger kids, and we all learn that there is no better way to learn something than by teaching it. There are hundreds of ways to play with TinyTap, here are a few ideas to get you started. If you are:

A librarian –  Convey your message, advertize your reading events, promote books in a fun and unique way through a game, a digital challenge, train staff, and more.

A Brand – Create a game to engage with your target audience, specially kids! Send trivia quizzes about interesting topics. Turn fun institutional videos intogames, etc.

An educator – Explore the app in class so that students use se their personal images and videos to learn content is a VERY meaningful way. Content producers (students) who make  personalized puzzles,  record a soundboard, tell interactive story.


  •  Create your content oriented learning object for yourself or share it with your learning community or a much wider  audience!
  • Teach a concept, for nothing helps us learn a content more than teaching it .


See some examples of what you can do for and with your students in an EFL language classroom below:

Body parts


Teens - Superlative trivia quizz

Zoo animals

Family members











Old Mantras

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In a recent article in O Globo, the philosopher Edgar Morin talks about education in Brazil and how the system should not ignore children`s creativity in the learning process. According to him,  information is everywhere and teachers’ roles need to change. Learners should look for the information themselves, and teachers should question the ideas and help learners develop critical thinking. He also criticizes teaching models that separate areas of knowledge  because by doing so, we hinder students` comprehension of the world. To tackle real everyday problems one needs to think holistically and grasp different content from different areas of knowledge. In Brazil, we have had progressive educators who could envision a school that involved learners and aroused curiosity. Paulo Freire, was in favor of experiential learning and inspired many educators worldwide with his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Another educator who had lots to share on this topic was Anísio Teixeira, and we still have schools in Brazil that follow his principles. However, f we look at our educational system in general nowadays, we see that we have a long way to go if we want experiential learning to become mainstream. In a TED talk, Paulo Blinkstein expands on the FabLab@schoolproject. To ilustrate his idea, and he shows a photo that  represents what an iPhone would look like if it had been designed by most educational reformers. He argues that we need to choose what to give up in terms of content if we are to make room for personalization and experiential approaches.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 8.54.07 PM I was talking to a teacher in a public school here in Brasilia, and she made a very relevant point.No matter how critical we may be of the education given at Brazilian schools, if we look at our curriculum today, we might come to the conclusion that most of its content should be there anyways. However, students need to perceive the relevance of this content, and we need to change the way we deliver classes. We need to make room for innovation and critical thinking, and we can not teach these important skills in the traditional environments.

I was planning a Portuguese class last week trying to imagine how I could make it more interesting and hands on. The lesson I was supposed to teach dealt with a text that had many short sentences in two different paragraphs. The questions that followed were designed to make students inductively notice the grammar structure (all sentences in those paragraphs had only one verb), and what was the writer`s intention when he chose that construction. The lesson looked interesting, but I needed to add a hands-on activity to engage my learners. I had about 20 minutes of class time, and instead of asking students to make the controlled manipulative grammar exercise that followed in class, I asked them to tell me a bit about their classes at school and how they felt. I asked them to use the same structure to write short texts that depicted their reality and, in groups, share their work, and make a short video using their phones. The pay off was that students engaged and participated in class a lot and were ready to talk about their lives and how things could be different for them. There is room for personalization and creativity, so the biggest challenge we face  is how we  use  great ideas from progressive educators to design classes that are student centered and have these principles become mainstream.

photo credit: Môsieur J. [version 9.1] via photopin cc

Podemos aprender qualquer coisa

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Eu sempre tive a sensação de que podemos aprender qualquer coisa. Quando somos muito jovens, podemos aprender diversos idiomas ao mesmo tempo. Se praticarmos bastante, podemos desenvolver habilidades que podem ser muito úteis para a nossa sociedade e comunidade. Então, por que não começar a promover espaços de aprendizagem que despertem a curiosidade e motivem as pessoas a buscar soluções para os muitos problemas que o nosso mundo enfrenta hoje? Eu estava assistindo um TED Talk do Paulo Blikstein e ele levanta uma questão interessante:

Eu me pergunto o que aconteceria se em vez de acordar todos os dias para ir para a escola para aprender uma outra fórmula, as crianças fossem à escola para inventar algo novo, todos os dias uma nova invenção, uma nova idéia. E eu me pergunto o que aconteceria com o país que fizesse isso primeiro.

Existem muitos educadores que querem fazer a diferença e inovar. Então, é o momento perfeito para unir esforços, estabelecer parcerias para garantir que os nossos filhos  sejam motivados a pensar de forma diferente e se tornem pessoas  criativas capazes de enfrentar os desafios do mundo moderno.

Feira Maker

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Nova Iorque vai sediar no dia 20 e 21 de setembro o Maker Faire. Esta feira é um ótimo lugar para ir com sua família e amigos e celebrar este maravilhoso festival da invenção, da criatividade e ver em primeira mão o que o movimento do fazer realmente significa.

O Maker Faire é um lugar onde fabricantes, entusiastas da tecnologia, artesãos, educadores, amadores, engenheiros, clubes de ciência, autores, artistas, estudantes e expositores comerciais se juntam para compartilhar o que eles podem fazer e aprender. A parte mais fascinante de tudo é que o evento oferece às pessoas a oportunidade de ver-se como mais do que consumidores; os projetos apresentados neste tipo de evento nos fazem acreditar que podemos ser todos inventores, todos nós podemos ser produtivos e criativos e nosso mundo é o resultado das nossas açōes. No site podemos conhecer os ‘makers’ ​​e ter uma noção do que esperar, dar uma olhada no programa , se organizar para o evento navegando por tópicos, baixar o aplicativo, e muito mais.

Maker Faire

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New York will host on September 20th and 21st the Maker Faire, which is  is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth. It`s a great place to go with your family and friends to celebrate this wonderful festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and experience first hand the core of  the Maker movement.


The Maker Faire is a place where manufacturers, technology enthusiasts, crafters, educators, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and commercial exhibitors gather to share what they can do and learn. The most fascinating part  is that this event gives people the opportunity to see themselves as more than consumers; the projects  make us believe that we can all be makers, we can all be productive and creative, and our world is what we make of  it. On the site we can meet the makers and get a sense of what to expect, take a look at the program and schedule, get organized for the event by browsing by topics, download the app, and much more.

Happy making!

Why Learn Coding?

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Have you ever been amazed by how well a young child can grasp how to use a tablet or phone? In the video above, a very young girl seems to have grasped a lot already. What she does so well at such a young age shows what Seymour Papert and Paulo Freire say when they mention the importance of unleashing the latent learning potential of students by providing environments in which their passions and interests thrive. The true  reasons for advocating the use of computers in schools are not technocentric. Actually, the reasons that resonate with me are truly practical. Take my kid for instance, he was totally into Minecraft, and he learned how to make wonderful things within the game that were valuable for his community. He learned how to record his screen, edit, and put a blog together to share his ideas. His construction of knowledge  happened really well and he built, made, and publicly shared his content. I simply do not see the same happening when it comes to school. Another thing to consider is that David also learned about mining, chemistry and even physics. Are we sometimes depriving students of the fun behind learning when we ask them to sit down quietly and listen? Do they actually learn or sit there quietly wondering what they need all the information for? I was telling a friend about schools in the US, Australia, and England teaching kids how to code, and she asked me the following question:


Do all the kids become programmers?

For me, learning to code is learning to think in a new way; It`s also helping kids visualize that they can learn how to control the computer by speaking its language. Nowadays, coding is for everyone, and it teaches creativity, cooperation and persistence. For some learning coding apps and the pleasure of unleashing the inner will of kids to learn, click on the image below.


On Maker Movement and Motivation

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Educators know that students perform better when they are motivated and cognitively engaged. We also know that we should avoid lecturing, and should motivate our learners to be active participants in the learning process. The big question that poses on many of us, delivering classes on daily basis, is how we can plan lessons that will connect our students to content that they might not have experienced, never been interested in, or don`t perceive as something useful in their lives.
In the book ‘The Art of Changing the Brain’ James E. Zull argues that educators can use knowledge about functions of the brain to enhance pedagogical techniques e.g., increasing reception of information by enhancing the sensory aspects of teaching materials; taking advantage of integrative mechanisms by allowing time for reflection; maximizing the adaptive functions of the brain by challenging students to be creative; using action areas of the brain by providing activities to confirm and extend learning. Teachers need to recognize that motivational-emotional systems of the brain modulate cognitive functions and that attempts to force students to learn in ways that violate brain mechanisms are likely to be counterproductive.

Paulo Blikstein, in his article - Digital Fabrication and Making in Education says that there are calls everywhere for educational approaches that foster creativity and inventiveness, and that the ideas behind the maker movement are at least a century old. Digital fabrication and “making” are based on three theoretical and pedagogical pillars: experiential education, constructionism, and critical pedagogy.  Paulo Freire criticized school’s “banking education” approach and the decontextualization of curriculum. So, students’ projects should be  connected with meaningful problems at a personal or community level. Seymour Papert, who worked with Jean Piaget for many years, shares Paulo Freire’s enthusiasm for unleashing the  learning potential of students by providing environments in which their passions and interests thrive. Papert pioneered the use of digital technologies in education, and some of his motivations are very similar to Freire’s. Papert’s Constructionism builds upon Piaget’s Constructivism and claims that the construction of knowledge happens very well when students build, make, and publicly share objects.

Schools that create environments where students are challenged and supported to achieve a goal they value might become a place where students feel the need to go to. Educators who work in institutions that embrace the maker movement might find the task of planning effective classes on daily basis an easier one just because  students may be genuinely interested and eager to learn.