Maker Culture Evolving at the French American International School

This year the French American International School of San Francisco developed FAIS Creates, an after-school maker club. Over the course of the year, our group of 15 students in grades 6-8 completed a variety of hands-on projects, including work with Arduino, sewing and crafting, robotics, and fabrication. Next fall, our school will unveil a new maker lab, and FAIS Creates is excited about the opportunities that will become available in this new space. You can keep up with all our club happenings at

Our first project was a silk-screened glow-in-the-dark hooded sweatshirt wired with electro-luminescent (EL) tape.

Next, we experimented with Arduinos, an electronics prototyping platform. In addition to learning how circuits work, we messed around with servo motors, multicolored LED’s, shift registers, and heat and light sensors.

Arduinos became our robots’ “brains” for our next project, a robot constructed out of coffee cans. To do the wiring, we had to learn how to solder. This was many students’ first experience soldering, but we got through it with only one burned finger.

Field trip! After the completion of our coffee bots, we took a field trip to TechShop, a 17,000-square-foot workshop and prototyping studio here in San Francisco, where we laser-etched chocolate bars. While we were there, we visited Type A Machines, a company that designs and manufactures 3D printers.

For our final project this year, we are building FM transmitters that will allow us to broadcast music from an iPhone to a radio. We are learning all about radio broadcast frequencies, how they are transmitted and received. We are also diving deeper into electronics, this time assembling our own circuit boards from scratch.

A couple items on the agenda for next year are kite building and disassembling a lawnmower engine to learn how internal combustion engines work.

Does your school do something similar?

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