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A brighter future for one SketchUp classroom in Brazil

Early exposure to software and technology was hard to find in some areas of Campinas, Brazil... until Isabella Giacomin and Lais Tatagiba -- two of our Trimble colleagues in Brazil -- decided to change that. Their newly launched youth outreach program provides underserved students with exposure to SketchUp, helping to promote a brighter future in this disadvantaged part of the country.

he students of CEPROMM with Isabella and Lais

The students of CEPROMM with Isabella and Lais.

Isabella, Lais: You recently launched a youth outreach program in Campinas, Brazil. Can you give us a little background about that?

Trimble Brazil has always encouraged initiatives and activities that give back to and serve the community we live in. Earlier this year, we decided to launch a youth outreach program with SketchUp at its core. So began our partnership with CEPROMM, a non-profit organization that helps and supports children, teenagers, and women in an underserved area of Campinas called Itatinga. For those who may not know, Campinas is located about 60 miles from São Paulo, and Itatinga’s area is known in Latin America for its heavy drug use, violence, and high prostitution rates, which is why the work that CEPROMM does is so important.

CEPROMM was founded in 1993 and aims to provide dedicated resources to children and teens who may be exposed to harmful or risky situations at home. The organization is currently assisting about 270 children, teenagers, and their families through educational, personal, and professional development initiatives. It provides mental health programs, arts and computer classes, sports, and more -- all in an effort to reduce the chances of unhealthy or risky life choices.

We’re showing them that they can expect something different for their future.

What inspired you to develop a community outreach program focused on 3D modeling?

Our inspiration for launching an outreach project using SketchUp came from Project Spectrum, an initiative to help youth on the autism spectrum develop vocational skills. We thought that project was truly amazing and wanted to find a way to do something similar in Brazil. That started our search for non-profit organizations where we felt we could make a difference, which led us to CEPROMM.

CEPROMM provides these students with access to coursework that is not common to traditional school curriculums, such as computer classes. The students are also given vocational tests to help them discover and navigate potential career paths. It was through this initiative that we felt we could be the most effective. It felt like the perfect opportunity to provide a basic SketchUp course that could potentially inspire these students to consider careers in 3D modeling or design.

Isabella teaches the basics of SketchUp to the students of CEPROMM

Isabella teaches the basics of SketchUp to the students of CEPROMM.

You developed a curriculum specifically for this project. Can you describe what that looked like and why you chose those specific exercises?

The program was developed with the intention of being a basic, beginner introduction to SketchUp for those who had never used the application before. It was structured into three, two-hour long courses. The first class was focused primarily on learning the basic tools and commands, creating lines and shapes, changing the scale, moving objects, and creating groups and editing them.

During the second class, we asked them to create a 3D model from a 2D project and they also learned how to create windows and doors. The last class was focused on their own creative endeavors. We taught them how to use materials to create textures on the walls and floors of their house, and also showed them how to import furniture from 3D Warehouse and customize what they found to the way they wanted. The results were amazing: they created so many interesting models with different styles and textures.

3D model of one student’s home

A 3D model of one student’s home.

In what ways does adding exposure to SketchUp at a young age complement the education these kids are receiving in school?

SketchUp is a whole new world for them. Many of these kids were never in touch with new or innovative technologies in school, and the introduction to SketchUp helps them develop skills that would have been difficult for them to learn otherwise. We’re showing them that they can expect something different for their future, and we’re exposing them to career paths they may have not known were possible or even existed.

Kids are often incredibly creative when it comes to thinking in 3D. What were some of the more unique or creative models that your students built?

Yes, they are. We loved seeing the wheels turning when we gave them the freedom to explore SketchUp on their own. One student wanted to learn how to build a swimming pool and another wanted to build a garage for the car he designed in SketchUp. And one decided that he wanted his house to be only black and white!

A student’s model featuring a pool and an originally designed car

A student’s model featuring a pool and an originally designed car.

What life skills do you hope students took away from this program?

At first, we noticed that the students were really excited and wanted to draw everything very quickly. It was clear they just wanted to move forward with the course and play around. But they soon realized they needed to slow down and have more patience with what they were trying to learn. So if there’s anything we hope they took away from this, it’s patience and perseverance, especially when it comes to learning something that could change their life.

What do you see for the future of this program?

We’ve already started developing an action plan and future steps for this program. We intend to continue to provide SketchUp courses for our students, but we're also working on a project that will enable students who have mastered SketchUp to teach and mentor other students who are trying to learn it. 

About the Author

A Boulder transplant by way of Florida, Caroline loves the sun, exploring new places, and not getting lost on trails. When she's not at the office, you can usually find her on her bike or trying to wrangle her loving dog who missed the memo about outgrowing puppyhood.

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