Maker Fieldtrips

By | American Spaces, Eventos, Makerspaces, Português, Projetos, Smithsonian, STEAM Activity | No Comments

Equipado com impressora 3D, plotters, cortadora a laser e máquinas de costura, o espaço do fazer da CTJ oferece para a comunidade a possibilidade de se encantar por uma tecnologia, aprender uma habilidade digital e/ou manual, criar um projeto e se conectar com pessoas e ideias inovadoras. Jovens que frequentam espaços de aprendizagem maker, muito comum nos Estados Unidos, desenvolvem a confiança, aprendem a colaborar, ser resilientes e desenvolvem uma atitude positiva ao enfrentar desafios.

Por esse motivo, oferecemos a todos os  alunos da Casa Thomas Jefferson um  fieldtrip ao makerspace para que se tornem parte da nossa crescente comunidade de pequenos fazedores. Nossos fieldtrips acontecem mensalmente e proporcionam experiências únicas de aprendizagem na língua inglesa. No mês de maio, alunos do Lago Sul e da Asa Sul tiveram uma tarde muito animada repleta de desafios. Construímos Máquinas de Rube Goldberg, aparatos que são muito conhecidos e cultuados nos Estados Unidos. Elas já foram imortalizadas em selos, viraram título de livros, têm centenas de páginas temáticas na internet e há anos são tema de competições de grande porte com direito a transmissão pela TV em cadeia nacional.

O desafio da tarde era o de criar em grupos a mais estapafúrdia e trabalhosa  maneira de realizar a tarefa básica de fazer uma bolinha cair  de cima de uma caixa para um alvo no chão. O desafio extra era o de construir um circuito simples com módulos de Littlebits para iniciar todo o processo. A construção das máquinas durante os fieldtrips foi um meio nada convencional, mas muito eficiente, de levar os estudantes aos infinitos caminhos da imaginação, criatividade e do pensamento intuitivo.

Consulte aqui a nossa programação mensal e participe.



Star Light, Star Bright, First Star I See Tonight.

By | 21st Century Skills, Smithsonian | No Comments

Star Light, Star Bright, First Star I See Tonight.

In this STEAM project, children from 8 to 15 years old studied constellations and learned about simple electrical connections using LED’s. We used a video from Smithsonian Institute about stars to inspire them to research the constellations. After that, kids had to choose a constellation to begin the project. The suggestion was for them to work in groups, but they worked in pairs mostly. We suggested this configuration because we wanted to motivate collaborative work. And it worked just fine, since they organized their work very well. We had five sessions of thirty minutes to finish the project. In the first session, the children watched the video, chose a constellation and painted the cardboard. In the second sessions, they the holes, inserted the LED’s and identified positive and negative parts. During the third and fourth sessions, students connected and welded the wires to the LED’s. In the fifth session, we placed the on/off button and the charger to power the project. When the project was complete, we had an exhibition. The kids were really excited about the project. They called their parents and friends to come and see the exhibition. All steps, from choosing the constellations, painting the sky background and connecting the wires were made by them with the guidance of the Resource Center staff. Although it was a long project, they had lots of fun with us.




Strengthening BNC Network

By | 21st Century Skills, American Spaces, Competência Digital, English, Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Projetos, Smithsonian | No Comments

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

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

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

BNCs  Educational sessions


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.



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Earth Day for Makers | Sub Irrigated Plant

By | 2016, American Spaces, Maker Movement, Narrativas Incríveis, Sala de Aula, Smithsonian, STEAM Activity | 7 Comments

Earth Day is the annual celebration of the environment and a time to assess the work needed to protect the natural gifts of our planet. Earth Day is observed around the world, although nowhere is it a national holiday. In the United States, it affirms that environmental awareness is part of the country’s consciousness and that the idea of protecting the environment – once the province of a few conservationists – has moved from the extreme to the mainstream of American thought. There are simple ways to engage participants with activities that will help them think about their own actions and consequences for the planet.

Sub irrigated Plant

Sub irrigated Plant


Leonardo Da Vinci – One of the Most Prolific Makers

By | American Spaces, Maker Movement, Smithsonian | No Comments

This  program  explores the notion that Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the most famous and prolific of all makers. He explored  all facets of scientific experimentation. The maker culture is closer to the Renaissance attitude of Leonardo than of the exacerbated Enlightenment rationalism or mechanistic and pragmatic mentality of industrial societies, for the maker today would be a kind of Renaissance man yesterday: tuned in different areas of knowledge, remixing the findings of one another; no history-social celebrities, but individuals responsible for creating and recreating new ways to produce, interact and communicate ideas and experiences in the world today. The program invites people to explore the life of Da Vinci and think of areas of expertise they  need to boost to  become an active and prolific maker.


Rube Goldberg Machine

By | Maker Movement, Makerspaces, Narrativas Incríveis, Sala de Aula, Smithsonian, STEAM Activity | No Comments
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Goldberg Machine

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

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


Youth Innovation Camp – 2016

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

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

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


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

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

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


Rereading Famous Paintings

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

Rereading Famous Paintings

On May 08th we celebrate the day of the artist in Brazil, so the Resource Center staff at Aguas Claras Branch planned a program to explore participant’s artistic potential and promote awareness related to  freedom of expression.

Three famous paintings were selected, and the librarians  did a research on the platform Smithsonian Learning Lab on Leonardo da Vinci so that they were better equipped to talk about him and his contribution to humankind.

To add a digital component and make participants curious, the  Osmo Masterpiece app was available to supercharge participant’s drawing skills. Then, participants used crayons, colored pencils, ink or materials to make  mosaics to paint their own versions of the masterpieces.  Both children and adults who participated in the activity had the opportunity to explore, create and recreate.

The Osmo app enriched the experience, for even those who could not draw very well felt empowered to do so. Now, participants who come to the Resource centers at Casa Thomas Jefferson find Smithsonian-inspired designs and the breadth of its engaging and high-quality materials to learn a new and relevant life skill.

Written by Thaise Nogueira & Lucas Marques

Resource Center CTJ Águas Claras 

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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.



Training session Campinas and Sorocaba

By | American Spaces, Smithsonian | No Comments

June 9th and 10th, 2016 were very productive days for  CCBEU Campinas staff members involved with the project Achieving 21st Century Skills. On June 10th, CCBEU Sorocaba staff members joined the group for a lively hands-on session. Among the topics addressed, the group talked about the scope of the project Achieving 21st Century Skills – Promote U.S. foreign policy objectives through the active use of curated content from the Smithsonian Institution to stimulate learning in science, technology, engineering, arts & design, and math (STEAM) fields. Daniela Lyra and Maria Lucia Machado took a mobile makerspace for the training sessions, and the enthusiastic group worked collaboratively to design rich programs linked to ICS: Integrated Country Strategies goals.


Virtual Tour – Smithsonian

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

Many kids and teens are curious about dinosaurs, but not many kids here in South America have the chance of visiting a Smithsonian museum and seeing first hand a dinosaur fossil and learning from it. To change this, the museum has been 3d printing many of its artifacts and making all the content available online. Having learned of such rich resources, the RC team at our Resource Center at Asa Norte branch organized a program departing from a Smithsonian Virtual tour. The whole RC was decorated with posters, Smithsonian magazine clippings, dinosaur toys and a thematic book display. We had iPads logged on the virtual tour, and we had lots of swabs cut into small pieces and worksheets with printed skeletons for students to cover  the design forming the dinosaur skeletons. Participants got small pieces of  flattened  clay and  pressed the swabs onto the it to print the fossils. During the activity staff members talked about the theory of evolution defended by Darwin and  the scientific importance of fossils. It was gratifying to see how well students engaged, got curious, and learned a bit more about the resources they can find at the Smithsonian, and how important archaeological findings are to science.   DiScreen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.45.03 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.45.13 PM  Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.45.41 PM

Vloggers Attitude – Smithsonian/Maker Activity

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

Cardboard boxes, scissors, aluminum foil, collaboration and creativity. That`s all  participants needed during the program Vloggers Attitude. People got together to discuss issues related to diversity, and learn about photography.

The idea behind ​​this program is a maker story worth sharing. The Resource Center staff at  the South Wing branch decided to run a program targeted at teenagers who already have vlogs with considerable number of hits and talk about themes that revolved around human rights, tolerance, and diversity. The goal was to encourage participants to create their own vlogs about their opinions on this matter s.

With the imminence of filming for this project came the idea / challenge, with few resources, set up a studioo to offer vloggers an option within our space.

So, we made a  D.I.Y. studio and made it available for everyone. Many people are already having fun taking pictures at the resource Center. To open the program ,the facilitator used beautiful photos that represented ethnical diversity from the  Smithsonian magazine. Vloggers exchanged ideas, discussed how to make interesting vlogs and shared their most popular ones. Participants left the library with a challenge. Post a video on the same topic of the conversation: diversity.

Participants  were invited to use the studio and learn about the art of photography and film by participating in talks and demonstrations delivered by some experts among CTJ staff members. All the talks, and studio, off course, totally open tho the community. Interested in making your very own studio? let us know on our facebook.

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Os Centros Binacionais participantes do projeto Achieving 21st Century Skills oferecem à comunidade onde estão inseridos atividades que tratam de desafios enfrentados hoje em dia. Este projeto educacional para jovens, que começou em setembro de 2014, promove aprendizagem em Ciência, Tecnologia, Engenharia, Artes e Design e Matemática, campos STEAM, através de conteúdo selecionado pelo Smithsonian Institution.

O Brasil anunciou um salto de 50% em casos de dengue ao longo de um período de três semanas em janeiro, uma constatação preocupante. Com isso em mente, planejamos um programa de sensibilização para que cidadãos comuns pudessem se juntar ao combate ao mosquito.

Na Casa Thomas Jefferson, começamos o programa mostrando a animação ‘Quais são as infecções transmitidas por mosquitos?’ para explicar como doenças como a dengue são transmitidas. Em sincronia com o movimento do fazer, os participantes fizeram uma mosquitoeira para levar para casa e se divertiram transformando lixo sólido em um objeto útil no combate a essa ameaça. Tem interesse em fazer um programa parecido na sua instituição? Acesse o programa completo na wiki do projeto:


Mosquito Trap

By | Maker Movement, Smithsonian | No Comments

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Make a Difference

BNCs that are part of the “Achieving 21st Century Skills” project have been planning activities that address important issues and challenges the world faces nowadays. This educational project for youth, that began in September 2014, promotes learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Design, and Math (STEAM fields) through the steadfast contemplation and application of curated content from the Smithsonian Institution.

Brazil has reported a nearly 50% jump in cases of dengue fever over a three-week period in January, a worrying finding. With that in mind, we planned a program to raise awareness on what citizens can do to fight Mosquito-Borne Infections.

At Casa Thomas Jefferson, we kicked off the program by showing the animation ‘What Are Mosquito-Borne Infections?’ to explain how diseases like dengue are transmitted. We also used a set of “Did You Know” questions about dengue to raise awareness of the need to eradicate the insect without harming the environment. As a follow-up, participants made a mosquito trap to take home. Our team prototyped the trap to make sure it worked well and placed a few throughout the school to motivate people to come and learn how to make their own. If you are interested in running a similar program, see more on the project’s wiki page.



World Water Day

By | English, Smithsonian | No Comments

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We wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush our teeth, grab a cup of coffee and head out for the day. Water is an important part of our daily lives, and we use it for a wide variety of purposes. But do we really think about the impact of our daily choices on the planet? Do we really care enough to change our routine?  To talk about such an important theme in an engaging way, our Resource Center staff designed activities in which visitors had the chance to explore, collaborate, and be surprised.

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The main goal of this program was to motivate people to think about what each one of us can do against the threat of water shortage. To contextualize and make the project appealing, we played the holographic version of the World Water Day 2015 Trailer. We also made an impact by showing the video  a “swirling monster” of plastic trash, documented by the Smithsonian Institution’s Dive Officer.

We used The Newspaper Clipping Generator to create future water-themed headlines. We had headlines depicting a positive future and others announcing a negative perspective. Participants created their own headlines, played with a Water Consumption Calculator to become aware of the amount of water used, and thought about what they could do to make sure we solve the challenge faced by our planet nowadays.

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To keep the audience engaged, we had a series of STEAM activities related to the theme and promoted meaningful learning out of the English classroom.

Water Tension



 Pascal Principle



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Bouncing Bubbles


Water consumption Calculator

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Water conservation awareness is fundamental, and we need to put the theories into practice. When planning programs for our libraries, we aim at creating opportunities to address important issues and for people to feel motivated to speak English as a way to participate in a global dialogue. We invite you to come and see what we have for the month of April and celebrate with us environmental awareness through programs for Earth Day. Follow Casa Thomas Jefferson on Facebook and visit us at






Why Maker Showcases?

By | 21st Century Skills, English, Maker Movement, Smithsonian | No Comments

To get a maker showcase up and running, we exchange many mails, get all the logistics ready, make sure all the maker kits are running well, pack, prepare two hours early to make sure we make it in time to train some new staff members, get everything out and …

One more maker showcase is ON.

It’s surely a hectic routine, the one of our mobile makerspace, but highly reassuring. We have delivered at least ten maker showcases in partner schools over the last three months, and it’s safe to say that the buzz starts the minute we arrive. All we see is the audience:

During our showcases, wherever we look, we see people moving happily around, going from work station to work station experimenting the thrill of making something for themselves. People overcome their frustration and celebrate making. It’s just beautiful to watch the excitement and engagement and hear questions like: Are you guys going to come back tomorrow? When are you guys coming back? Where can I go for more of these activities?

Last week, a parent asked me a very interesting question as I was helping his kid add a dimmer to the circuit she had just finished.  “You are with an English school, right? So, what does English teaching have to do with things like coding, 3D printing, circuitry, and electronics?” I can think of at least three very good reasons for an American Space to have maker showcases. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design, and powerful personal technology, which are great concepts to teach at any school. The interactive component of maker activities are worth pointing out, too. By participating in a broad range of activities with others, participants appropriate (internalize or take for themselves) the outcomes produced by working together; These outcomes could include both new strategies and knowledge.

Another advantage of having maker showcases and letting people experience making is the fact that there is a mentor in each station to foster learning. The activities are drop-in, but participants might be guided by the mentor who does not provide answers or a manual, but asks discovery questions and leads participants to “a-ha” moments instead. Vygotsky’s concept of the Zone of Proximal Development – the area where a person can solve a problem with the help of a more able peer – can be easily noticed as kids work together to overcome challenges. Hosting numerous maker showcases around town stirs the imagination of people numbed by generic, mass-produced merchandise and invites participants to engage with activities that sparkle genuine curiosity as to the English language.

GRAFFITart + Maker Showcase @ CTJ-FAN  -

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Galois Infantil Águas Claras –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ CIMAN –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Festival Literário do Colégio Santo Antônio –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Feira de Tecnologia do Colégio Cor Jesu –

Mobile Maker Showcase @  Leonardo Da Vinci Asa Norte –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Sigma Águas Claras –

Mobile Maker Showcase @ Sigma Águas Claras –

Creative Design

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



The project Achieving 21st Century Skills aims at creating synergy among the cultural and academic departments, Resource Centers, and the EducationUSA office inside the Binational Centers. American Spaces in general often host exhibitions that address issues like the environment, preservation, tolerance, etc. – issues related to the U.S. mission in Brazil. Exhibits and cultural events that already take place in American Spaces can be interesting opportunities to encourage people to participate in maker activities to learn a new skill and to interact in authentic and fun ways. Find below an example of how an art exhibition became the starting point for an extracurricular maker activity in an American Space.


The artists Hermidia Metzler and Marcia Mazzoni invited the audience to Casa Thomas Jefferson’s art gallery in September, 2015 to take a look at their work and learn different ways of perceiving plastic and transforming what could be trash into pieces of art. The program ‘Design Criativo’ aims at motivating people to rethink consumption, calculate the impact they cause on our planet, and upcycle plastic bottles using one of the techniques the artists use in their work.  The program provides an open space for creativity and inspires the audience to come up with solutions, learn together in a very practical way, and establish communication among local artists and makers with the community in general.


5’ – Use the video from the National Museum of Natural History on ocean pollution to start a discussion on what kind of products people in general buy and the impact on the planet. Make sure you tell participants a bit about the video first (you will find info on the post to elaborate your talk).


5’ –Use the  video from National Museum of Natural History on ocean pollution to start a discussion on what kind of products people in general buy and the impact on the planet. Make sure you tell participants a bit about the video firs t(you will find info on the post to elaborate your talk). Ocean Trash: Marine Debris From Shore To Sea

15´ -Motivate participants to visit the site  Ecosytem on the Edge to calculate heir Nitrogen footprint. Invite volunteers to share the results.

2  hours – Hands on activity  -  The artists shared some techniques they use to transform plastic and guided participants as they made two decorative pieces for their home.

Keep in mind that this program could be a good way to build community and to do so, you should invite local artists to collaborate with you.



Design Criativo

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


O American Space Casa Thomas Jefferson trabalha em parceria com a Embaixada dos Estados Unidos e outros Centros Binacionais no Brasil para implementar o projeto  “Achieving 21st Century Skills”. Além de trazer o movimento do fazer (importante conceito da cultura americana) para dentro dos centros, o projeto tem também o objetivo de criar sinergia entre os departamentos cultural e acadêmico, Resource Center e EducationUSA. Muitas vezes, temos nos American Spaces exposições que tratam de assuntos como meio ambiente, preservação, tolerância, etc. Esses temas estão relacionados à missão dos Estados Unidos no Brasil. As exposições e eventos culturais que já acontecem nos American Spaces podem ser oportunidades interessantes para estimular pessoas a participarem do movimento do fazer, colocar a mão na massa e sentir-se parte de uma comunidade dentro da escola para aprender uma habilidade nova e interagir de maneira autêntica e divertida. Veja abaixo um exemplo de como uma exposição de arte se tornou ponto de partida para uma atividade ‘maker’ (extracurricular) em um American Space.


As artistas Hermidia Metzler e Marrcia Mazzoni exibem o trabalho “Metamorfose da Matéria” na Galeria de Arte da Casa Thomas Jefferson e se propõem a trabalhar junto com a comunidade no programa “Criação de Soluções”. O programa tem o objetivo de abrir espaço de estímulo à criatividade por meio de encontros para apreciar arte e, assim, abrir discussões sobre desafios do mundo moderno e criação de objetos funcionais ou decorativos usando o que se tem, em vez de se comprar tudo pronto. O “Criação de Soluções” seria o primeiro programa, mas a ideia não é fazer somente um encontro e, sim, reunir um grupo para aprender em conjunto de forma bem prática. Os conhecimentos vão desde técnicas básicas até as mais diferentes e elaboradas – de acordo com o interesse e motivação do grupo. Bordado, origami, batik, crochê, customização de roupas, macramê e circuitos vestíveis são alguns dos tópicos previstos, sempre contando com a parceria de artistas que geralmente expõem na galeria. Além de aprender as técnicas, os participantes mais iniciantes nesse universo vão ganhar uma nova forma de olhar para o mundo, buscando dar outro significado aos objetos ao seu redor e até ver beleza em itens que poderiam ser descartados. Os que já desenvolvem projetos nessa linha vão ganhar um espaço de convívio e de troca com outros amantes dos trabalhos manuais. Experts e iniciantes são bem-vindos e esperamos que todos possam aprender muito uns com os outros – e estimulados por artistas e facilitadores.

A Oficina – passo a passo


5’ – Conte uma historia sobre a viagem de cientistas do instituto Smithsonian para Curaçao e o mar de plástico encontrado por eles para trabalhar a conscientização das escolhas de produtos para consumirmos e de como descartamos lixo. Ocean Trash: Marine Debris From Shore To Sea

15´ – Incentive os participantes a visitarem o site Ecosytem on the Edge para calcularem o impacto que suas escolhas de consumo causam ao meio ambiente.

2 horas – Oficina Mão na Massa – Momento para usar a criatividade e usar sucata para criar produtos bonitos que realmente despertem o interesse do público em colaboração com artistas e/ou makers locais.





Healthy Living

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

In September we celebrated healthy living with interesting  activities at our Resource Centers. Our staff prepared varied learning opportunities with an eye on  alternative ways to be mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy. Our super maker American Space staff  prepared lots of activities for visitors  to give them a chance to practice English in very exciting ways.Please see below what was on our plate for Healthy Living Month.

Tip –  The project tutorial suggests we use old CD cases to make the projectors. We found them hard to cut (and a bit dangerous too), so we used acetate  instead. It works beautifully!


Did you know that…?

All branches had a “did you know” poster wall with tips that went beyond common knowledge. There was a curating phase on Google drive to gather relevant pieces of information to share. The innovation department prepared eye-catching posters that were displayed around school and on our social media. Would you like to read or revisit the material? Enjoy and share.

Did you know

Pedal Powered Blenders

Have you ever heard of  Pedal Powered Blenders? You probably have. Have you ever seen one? Come to our Resource Centers and you will! We we will keep two bikes going around in October. So, you can still come and make sense of this project. See how you can transform your body`s power into another source of energy that can go back to you in a very nutritious way.   

Healthy diet

People who attended   “Living happily  ever after with lactose intolerance” Practiced English, learned about lactose intolerance and tasted delicious recipes.

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Food Wheel

Our staff created a game that was a visual representation of a healthy diet. People completed the wheel and learned what should be eaten most often and what should be eaten least often.  


 The Pillars of A Healthy Life

Nutritionist Rogério Barros delivered the workshop “Atividade física e alimentação equilibrada: pilares para uma vida saudável” . Besides getting exposed to great ideas participants got a gift from the local health store Bioon and tried some delicious treats.


Healthy mind

Tai chi Qi Gong Sessions in different branches. People enjoyed a bit of calm in their lives and welcomed  our Tai chi Qi Gong teacher Soraya Lacerda, who delivered this relaxing experience in English.


Healthy brain

Magic cubes were in order. We had a Mini Workshop with contestants of the world championship during break time.


Stay tuned for more fun, discovery and excitement at the American Space – Casa Thomas Jefferson and come check out what will make October the spookiest month ever! Stay healthy,    

The Invention of the Electric Guitar

By | Smithsonian | No Comments

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Libraries in the USA nowadays are dynamic learning spaces where participants have the chance to explore, get curious, and experiment. Casa Thomas Jefferson Resource Centers are in sync with the movement, and August was time to celebrate music – a very lively concept of the American Culture. We at Casa Thomas Jefferson prepared a program with rich resources from the Smithsonian Institution to explore new concepts, engage in dynamic activities, and learn new skills. As people approached the Resource centers at Casa Thomas Jefferson, they could watch a short video from the Smithsonian Institution called “Invention of Electric Guitar” that explores concepts of entrepreneurship as it shows how the process of amplifying the sound of a guitar involved many inventors and musicians working together  to develop, design, and popularize a louder instrument.

Collaboration was in the air as participants had to work in groups  to face some cool challenges specially designed for them, and many people did just that. People also had the change to be wowed by some innovative apps and Technologies while listening to great music. Check some examples out: In the activity Diving into Music, people could experiment with Google Cardboards and experience musical legends perform in VR (virtual reality). Do you have any idea what song matches your heartbeat? In The Rythm of Your Heart Participants could check their heartbeat and listen to a song with a similar beat. Cool, right? But, one of the nicest ones was called The Cup Song Challenge in which Students could watch interesting videos and face the Cup Song Challenge, which is very popular in the USA. Feeling musical and innovative yet? We surely hope so and invite you to come in September to more interesting programs.


Youth Innovation Camp

By | 21st Century Skills, Competência Digital, English, Maker Movement, Programação, Smithsonian | No Comments

Logo-YIC (1)There are great ways for kids to spend their time off from school. If the activities enable participants to use their creativity to self-express, tinker, and learn new skills, it’s even better. Last July, the Binational Center Casa Thomas Jefferson, in  coordination with the U.S. Embassy, offered the community the chance to do just that. Youth Innovation Camp, Casa Thomas Jefferson’s very first summer camp, motivated participants to come to the main branch for five days and experience different learning possibilities. The themes varied from inventions, entrepreneurship, coding, 3D printing, making, and STEAM, and  all the activities offered participants the chance of engaging in rich authentic use of the English Language to learn a new set of skill and how to do or make something new. The CTJ task design team used as inspiration materials from the well known chain of museums The Smithsonian Institute to enrich participants experiences. We share here all the activities developed during the camp so that other language schools, Binational Centers, and libraries  and schools also offer little creative minds the chance to get creative and participate of the Maker Movement and redefine some learning spaces.

Youth Innovation Camp engaged participants with  immersive experiences carefully planned  by Casa Thomas Jefferson teachers  in collaboration with the  Maker Team from all  Resource Centers. During the five afternoons in each weekly edition, Casa Thomas Jefferson`s main branch effervesced Campers who were eager  to experiment with different possibilities of practical and playful learning. Various topics related to inventions , programming, 3D modeling, STEAM activities, entrepreneurship and toy making were explored. Day by day participants were wowed, discovered and learned in a playful and collaborative way. Participants realised that to create something new,  it takes just curiosity, inventiveness and not be afraid to try as many times as necessary. Our motto of the camp was: It`s ok to fail!

For the Youth Camp team, it was an immeasurable joy to have spent such creative time with the children, leading them in this adventure of discovery and the thrill of ‘learning by making’. It was very rewarding to have them with us these two weeks and notice their engagement, excitement and willingness to learn. And after the feedback received from students and parents, the feeling that remains is that we have a successfully crowned design. Hope to see you in the next Camp!

Young Entrepreneur 


Coding and 3D printing

Inventor Day


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CTJ Youth Innovation Camp – Young Entrepreneur Day

By | 21st Century Skills, Smithsonian | No Comments

There are great ways for kids to spend their time off from school. If the activities enable participants to use their creativity to self-express, tinker, and learn new skills, it’s even better. Last month, the Binational Center Casa Thomas Jefferson, in  coordination with the U.S. Embassy, offered the community the chance to do just that. Youth Innovation Camp, Casa Thomas Jefferson’s very first summer camp, motivated participants to come to the main branch for five days and experience different learning possibilities. The themes varied from inventions, entrepreneurship, coding, 3D printing, making, and STEAM. Participants had a great time working collaboratively to learn how to make something new or learn a new concept.

The Youth Innovation Camp welcomed participants from 9 to 12 years old to immerse in experiential learning and use English as a means of communication and collaboration. With this post, we start sharing all the activities developed during the camp.

The sessions had really positive feedback from parents and students.  The “young incubator” was one of the highlights. For inspiration, the design team at Casa Thomas Jefferson referred to Entrepreneur Incubator – a curriculum that provides all the instructions and guidance necessary for American Spaces to lead programs on the entrepreneurial process. The material, originally designed by the Smithsonian Institution, provides participants with relevant experiences and skills so they are better prepared to start their own businesses. However, the material was written for native English speakers. So, adapting the material was crucial for the success of this activity during the camp.

Having a young audience in mind, CTJ team adapted lesson plans to keep kids tuned.  The Smithsonian material used as reference is based on content pyramids, and each of the five Content Pyramids focuses on a different theme that is integral to the entrepreneurial process.  For the activity designed for the Youth Innovation Camp, we focused on the Development Content Pyramid. Each Concept section teaches business fundamentals while challenging participants to create sketches of their original product ideas.


See detailed lesson plan here.

Mentors thought a strong lead-in was needed; and the door in was having campers explore Google Cardboard, which is a relatively new way to experience virtual reality in a simple, fun, and affordable way. Participants were very curious and energized, so we were ready to explore important concepts.


We explored the product (Google Cardboard), its innovative features behind the concept of the product, and the brand GOOGLE itself. We analyzed demographics, aesthetic, innovative feature, core audience, mission statement, logo, etc. Having all students on board, we moved on to a brainstorm session. We had participants call out names of innovative and successful companies (e.g., Twitter, BMW, Red Bull), and for that we made a list of those brands on a large sheet of paper and posted it on a very visible area.

We moved on to a part of the lesson that  kids enjoyed tremendously. We divided the campers into groups of three. Each group received two cards with two of the listed brands on them. Participants had to choose one to represent the brand and another to define the product they were supposed to create. For example: McDonalds x Nike – participants had to think of sneakers to be sold at McDonalds or a snack to be sold by Nike. Each group worked collaboratively to define aspects such as product description, differential, distinguishing feature, and logo.

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We wrapped it all up by teaching participants how to make a video for an advertisement campaign for their product using stop motion, and it was a great pleasure to see them come up with ideas and learn storyboarding in such an enthusiastic way.

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Allowing students at American Spaces to participate in engaging activities and immerse themselves in authentic use of the English Language showed us that Makerspaces in Binational Centers serve the purpose of preparing our students to succeed as they learn new skills and work collaboratively.








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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