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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

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Soft opening Makerspace Asa Norte

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

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

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

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

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


Storytelling in the Making

By | English, Makerspaces, Sem categoria | No Comments


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

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

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

Project on Scratch

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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

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

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

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

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

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



Earth Day – Maker Activities

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

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

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

Earth Day in the Making

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


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


Making Makers in the Language Classroom

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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, English, Sala de Aula, 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, English, Sala de Aula, 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

By | Sem categoria | No Comments


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

By | Português, Projetos, Sem categoria | No Comments

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

By | Sem categoria | No Comments


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.

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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

By | Maker Movement, Sala de Aula, Sem categoria | No Comments

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

By | Português, Sem categoria | 3 Comments


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

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Crie brinquedos

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 Crie presentes com lâmpadas queimadas

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2014-09-19 12.41.34

Quem são os fazedores?

By | Português, Sem categoria | No Comments

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

By | Maker Movement, Sem categoria | No Comments

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

By | Sala de Aula, Sem categoria | No Comments


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

By | Sala de Aula, Sem categoria | No Comments


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

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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.


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