Visit us at SEPEX 2015!

05/11/2015 11:59

By experimenting to program our minion robot and games at our booth, you will see how easy and interesting it is to learn how to program with SCRATCH.

The Minion is controlled by an Arduino and programmed via SCRATCH – a visual programming language.

The Education, Research and Outreach Week (SEPEX) at the Federal University of Santa Catarina took place from 11 – 14th November 2015 in Florianópolis/Brazil.

About 4000 people visited our exhibitBased on data collected via our opinionmeter the vast majority of visitors found our exhibit great.

Making of …

Experiment to program the little friend of our Minion-shaped robot.


More information:

C. Gresse von Wangenheim, A. von Wangenheim, F. S. Pacheco, M. N. Fortuna Ferreira. Physical Computing Outreach at Exhibitions. Technical Report INCoD/GQS.03.2015.E, Brazilian Institute for Digital Convergence, Informatics and Statistics Department, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis/Brazil, 2015.

C. Gresse von Wangenheim, A. von Wangenheim, F. S. Pacheco, M. N. Ferreira, J. C. R. Hauck. 5 Minutos de Programação em Exibições. 25° Workshop sobre Educação em Computação (CSBC/WEI). São Paulo, SP.

SCRATCHBOARD – A simple, easy to use platform for physical computing with Scratch and Arduino

23/09/2015 17:02

Any one that tried to teach kids and young adults to build simple electronic circuits using breadboards knows how difficult this is: in order to master a breadboard, the students not only need to have a basic understanding of circuits, they also need to grasp and think in terms of the matrix-based logic of a breadboard and to have the fine motors skills necessary to correctly place jumper wires and components.  If you’re training students to be electronics technicians, these are necessary skills. But, if you want to use automation as a motivator for kids to learn physical computing programming software that acts physically in the real world, the need to possess these skills will initially stay in the way of learning computing concepts – a process that should be fast and fun.

In order to allow very quick learning experiences, the physical computing platform has to be simple, intuitive and extremely easy to use. If you can find something that does this and is extremely low-cost, then you’ll have a perfect platform for doing Physical Computing at public schools in countries like Brazil.

For this purpose we developed the SCRATCHBOARD.

The SCRATCHBOARD is a printed circuit board with a DIP socket, where an Arduino Nano (USD 11.00) can be placed, and eight 4P4C jacks, where automation devices can be connected. These can be analog and digital devices, from actuators and sensors to simple handmade analog devices.

Each jack provides access to either a VCC, a GND and 2 digital pins (6 jacks) or to VCC, a GND and one digital and one analog pin (2 jacks).

There already exist similar initiatives. However, most of them are protected products or use hardware that is expensive. On the SCRATCHBOARD everything is based upon standard, low-cost hardware. The objective of the development of the SCRATCHBOARD was to produce the most inexpensive and easy to use platform possible: You can adapt any device that works with an Arduino to work with the SCRATCHBOARD: one only has to take a telephone wire and connect it to the device and crimp the other end to a 4P4C plug, which can be done at any school by an instructor with minimum previous hardware knowledge.

The cost factor for substituting burnt hardware is minimum: if an Arduino Nano is defective, the DIP socket allows you to simply sack the Arduino micro-controller off and to substitute it by another, at an average cost of USD 11.00. Burn a Firmata firmware into it and it is again ready-to-run!

The SCRATCHBOARD will work with Scratch or Snap! running on any computer, even with minimal hardware platforms such as a Raspberry Pi.

Arduino Pins  X  Scratchboard Jacks

Jack Pins Jack Pins
A D0/D1 E D12/A2
B D2/D3 F D13/A1
C D4/D5 G D10/D11
D D6/D7 H D8/D9

Workshops – Physical Computing for Children (8 – 12 years) and Parents

23/09/2015 11:39

A special workshop for children ( 8 to 12 years old) accompanied by their parents, grandparents, uncles or older siblings …

A practical programming workshop in which children enter the world of computing learning how to program to make a living robot: it blinks , moves its arms and feel when someone approaches. Children , along with an adult of their family, will learn fundamental programming concepts using SCRATCH, a graphical programming language developed at the MIT Media Lab to control the hardware ( Arduino Nano ) on the SCRATCHBOARD.

O requisito para a realização da oficina neste nível iniciante é que a criança deve, obrigatoriamente, estar acompanhada por um adulto. Por limitações de espaço físico, pode ser feito uma inscrição somente para um adulto e uma criança.

The only requirement for the workshop at this beginner level is that the child must necessarily be accompanied by an adult. No programming knowledge is required. SCRATCH is a free software and can be used online or downloaded at:

The workshop will be held at a computer lab with computers available for all participants. Thus , it is not necessary to bring personal computers.

You can also find more information (in Portuguese) or about our research.

The workshop is free – result of projects supported by the Google Rise Award and MCTI / CNPq in partnership with the IFSC and atto/dualsystem.

Interested? New workshops in 2016 will be announced via our mailinglist and our Facebook group.

More information:

Gresse von Wangenheim, C. et al. Design and Experiences with Teaching Physical Computing in Family Workshops. Technical Report INCoD/GQS.04.2015.E, Brazilian Institute for Digital Convergence, Informatics and Statistics Department, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis/Brazil, 2015.

Teaching Computational Thinking in an interdisciplinary approach in elementary school history classes

05/07/2015 13:11


Results from pilots in Elementary Education (5 and 7 grades) at school Autonomia  2015-1:

Class 7B –
Class 7A –
Class 5V –
Class 5M –

Learning Scratch

Scratch is a new visual programming language and an online community where children can program and share interactive media, such as stories, games and animations with people around the world.

Creating with SCRATCH, children learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and to solve problems in a systematic way. Today, SCRATCH is a creative learning community present in more than 150 countries with more than 11 million users and more than 3 million of shared projects. SCRATCH is a free software developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Try it:

Learn to make the Mouse-Catch Game with this little book [INCoD Technical Reports] or see the game in SCRATCH (

More instructional material: SCRATCH Cards

Images to make the Mouse-Catch Game


Other ideas:

Ideas – Ancient Civilizations

Ideas – Food

Google Rise Award approves project of the initiative Computação na Escola

10/03/2015 17:12

The project Physical Computing Family Workshops coordinated by the Initiative Computação na Escola received the Google Rise Award.

The project is focused on the development, implementation, and evaluation of family workshops where parents alongside their children (10-14 years) learn basic skills of computer programming. In the workshops, they learn concepts of physics computation making interactive dolls that flash with their eyes or shake their arm when someone approaches. This will be done by integrating Scratch and Arduino as a low-cost solution and at the same time easy and fascinating to learn computing.

The project is coordinated by the Iniciativa Computação na Escola of the GQS/INCoD – Instituto Nacional para Convergência Digital, a research institute of the Science and Technology Ministry headquartered at the INE – Departament of Informatics and Statistics of the UFSC – Federal University of Santa Catarina. The initiative is dedicated to increase computer education in elementary schools providing all students the opportunity to learn computing, involving much more than just the use of software systems, including computational thinking and computer programming.

The need to learn how to write computer programs goes beyond professional utility. Even if they won’t become future computer scientists, all children should have the opportunity to be ” fluent ” in programming.

“From phones to cars and even medicine, technology touches every part of our lives. If you can create technology, you can change the world.”

Susan Wojcicki, CEO Youtube (ex SVP  Google)

In this century, to know how to program computers has become a basic and useful skill for everyone and in all aspects of life. It can be seen as a kind of “magic power”, which allows one who is fluent in programming to carry out his/her creative ideas through animations, games, applications – everything you can imagine!

Google Rise Award is part of the Google for Education Program that encourages students to be creators and not just future technology consumers. Only in 2015 Google Rise Award has allocated $ 1.5 million to 37 organizations from 17 countries, including Brazil.

More information on our website or our Facebook group.