Programas Sociais


Democracy Day – Teacher’s VOICE

By | American Spaces, Escolas Públicas, Makerspaces, Narrativas Incríveis, Programas Sociais, Projetos, Testemunhos | No Comments

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

Democracy Day Activities September 17, 2018

By Elizabeth Silver

Commemorating International Democracy Day with two classes at the Casa Thomas Jefferson Resource Center and the CTJ Makerspace was quite the experience. After consulting the International Democracy Day Toolkit from American Spaces, teams from the BNCs came together at a webinar to brainstorm activities. From this point, the program narrative was decided on and closed: MAKE A DIFFERENCE: How can we take democratic action to change the way we promote citizen participation?

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

See some amazing photos here.



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Experiencing  the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat with Gurulino

By | American Spaces, Cultural, Escolas Públicas, Narrativas Incríveis, Programas Sociais | 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


Freedom of Press, 2018 | Collaborative Program Design

By | American Spaces, Competência Digital, English, Escolas Públicas, Narrativas Incríveis, Programas Sociais | 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


CTJ Makerspace at World Water Forum 8 in Brasília

By | 21st Century Skills, Cultural, Escolas Públicas, Eventos, Narrativas Incríveis, Problem Solving, Programas Sociais | No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence | 2017

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Empreendedorismo, Narrativas Incríveis, Problem Solving, Programas Sociais | No Comments

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

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

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

1.     CTJ

2.     Alumni

3.     ACBEU Salvador

4.     CCBEU Sorocaba

5.     ICBEU Uberaba

6.     ICBEU Belo Horizonte

7.     ACBEU Juiz de Fora

8.     ICBEU Manaus

9.     CCBEU Franca

10.   CCBEU Tupã

11.   ICBEU Patrocinio

12.   CCBEU Guarapuava

13.   IBEU-CE

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

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

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

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

Inspiration – Gaining Confidence and Competence

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


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


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

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

16 Days of Activism


Prototyping for Disability Rights | Makeathon Assitive Technology | 2017

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Design Thinking, Escolas Públicas, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Narrativas Incríveis, Programas Sociais | No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Educational Assistive Technology with CIL 2 - Day 1


Galaxy of Oppotunities :: Galáxia de Oportunidades

By | Design Thinking, Empreendedorismo, Escolas Públicas, Eventos, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Programas Sociais, 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, Competência Digital, English, Escolas Públicas, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Programas Sociais, 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


Strengthening Public School learning Experience

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Escolas Públicas, Makerspaces, Programas Sociais | No Comments

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

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

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

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



Thomas Griggs visita Centro Interescolar de Línguas

By | American Spaces, Escolas Públicas, Programas Sociais, STEAM Activity | No Comments

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

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


Thomas Griggs


Thomas Griggs @ “Centro Interescolar de Línguas”

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, English, Escolas Públicas, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Programas Sociais, STEAM Activity | 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 @ CTJ Makerspace

By | Competência Digital, English, Escolas Públicas, Eventos, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Programas Sociais, Sala de Aula, Smithsonian, STEAM Activity | 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.




CTJ Makerspace @ Green Nation Festival| NOV/2016

By | American Spaces, English, Escolas Públicas, Eventos, Maker Movement, Narrativas Incríveis, Programas Sociais, Projetos, STEAM Activity | 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 growth 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:










Prototyping for Disability Rights – Assitive Technology Makeathon | 2016

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Design Thinking, Escolas Públicas, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Narrativas Incríveis, Programas Sociais, Projetos | One Comment

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

The program 

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

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


The partners 

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

Participant`s projects

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

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

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