ESA Space Insights

“ESA Space Insights” Video Series All Partners The first three videos of the series have been uploaded to the FIRST LEGO League YouTube Channel. In these videos, experts from the European Space Agency explain a wide range of interesting subjects, such as gravity, space food, robots and the Moon. More videos will be added to this playlist over the next few months, but make sure to start sharing this great Project resource with your teams now!

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Team Registration Sales Tax

Should you or someone from your organization be creating and/or paying for FIRST® LEGO® League team registrations you must include a tax exempt document for each team even if you think FIRST has one on file. The registration system does not have the ability to know tax exempt status unless the document is included. Failing to provide the document will require you to pay the non-refundable sales tax.

We are checking how this affects teams who received the TVA Grant. Watch here for more info as we obtain it.

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Challenge Released

All game info has been released. See fall all the details.

Note the new Engineering Journal! It is optional, but highly recommended!

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Changes to the FIRST Dashboard


Please note that on Monday, July 30, 2018, the FIRST registration site will be down for maintenance until the afternoon. This is for the deployment of the new FIRST storefront features which will enable FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. and FIRST® LEGO® League teams to purchase their robot sets along with team registration. Teams will no longer need to link over to LEGO® Education for the core products needed for team participation. Any additional products, such as motors and sensors, will be purchased directly from LEGO Education at their retail web shop.

At this transition time, FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League teams who have not provided a sales tax exemption form will see tax calculations on their dashboard reflecting how FIRST will be collecting and remitting sales tax.

Teams currently in the registration system and the general public will receive messaging about the new storefront starting on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, once we have ensured everything deployed correctly.

In addition, with this launch, we will activate shipments of Challenge Sets and Inspire Set materials to teams who have previously registered. They can expect receipt by mid-August. These teams will also have the option of adding Robot Sets directly from the FIRST storefront if they did not purchase them previously (limits apply). Remember, all FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League registrations include Inspire Set materials or the Challenge Set.

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Season Kick-off Video from Space!

When Global Challenge Release takes place at noon EDT August 1, we will initiate a large Social Media & PR push around the kickoff of the MISSION MOON℠ and INTO ORBIT℠ season. We’re excited to announce that at that time, we will release a “good luck” video recorded by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from aboard the International Space Station (ISS) . Help us inspire and motivate teams around the world by sharing/retweeting the video across your local Social Media channels. You may also want to include it as part of your Opening Ceremony at your events. Keep an eye out for Alexander’s message on the LEGO® Education and FIRST® LEGO® League social media channels. In addition, an interactive broadcast with Deejay Knight will air on beginning at 11am CDT Aug. 1. Be sure to tune in and encourage your teams to do the same!

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TVA Grant Opened!

I know you have been anxiously awaiting news about the TVA grants this season, so I’m pleased to inform you that we received the funds today and are ready to dispense to teams. We will be utilizing the new process we implemented last season. However, one change is now that the registration is bundled with the challenge set, the complete bundle will be covered. Please see below:

Team Eligibility:

  • All FIRST LEGO League teams in the TVA Service Area are eligible for funding (that includes the entire official West TN FLL Region), which will cover team registration bundle only (registration fee & Challenge Set)
  • Teams must begin the registration process with FIRST and hold a team number, however, teams must NOT pay for registration as it will forfeit their TVA Grant. No exceptions, substitutions or refunds will be made.
  • A maximum of 256 TVA team grants are available on a first come, first served basis. Funds will be available until December 1, 2018 OR until team registration closes in your region/nationally OR until we reach the 256 team grant cap – whichever comes first. If we get close to reaching the 256 team cap, we will notify all Partners (and we will post it on this blog).

Next Steps:

  • All teams interested in receiving TVA funds must submit a very short online application to FIRST
  • FIRST will send grant information and the application link to all teams that received TVA funding last season and encourage them to apply for funds if they intend to participate this season. The list of last season’s TVA teams that we will contact is attached for your reference – any teams that have already paid their registration for this season have been removed from the list.
  • We ask that Partners send the application link to any other teams that are eligible for TVA funds – new/rookie teams or returning teams that did not receive funding last season.
  • You may choose to post the TVA information and application link on your website or social media channels

TVA Grant Process

  • FIRST will review all grant requests each Wednesday by noon, Eastern Time.
  • FIRST will send the grant requests to Tennessee Valley Authority to verify the team’s location within their service area. This process usually takes 48 hours.
  • Once FIRST receives the approval back from Tennessee Valley Authority, teams can expect the grant funds to be available within 5 business days.
  • Teams should expect to receive 3 emails during the application process – 1. To confirm that they have successfully submitted the application 2. To notify them of approval and application of funds 3. Information about recognizing/thanking TVA and the use of the TVA logo.
  • Any teams that have already paid registration or are outside of the TVA services area will be referred back to the Partner.
  • Any questions regarding this process should be directed to Ryanne Cook at .
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Hardship Grant – Deadline Approaching

FIRST HQ offers a Hardship grants for teams that cannot afford to participate in First Lego League. If you would like to start a team, but fall into this category, please let us know by filling out THIS FORM.

Please fill it out before Thursday, July 19 by end of day to be considered for the first round of grants!

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Team News and Updates

TVA Grant

The TVA Grant will be available to teams in their service area (see map) for the Into Orbit Season.

TVA Service Area

In the past TVA paid the registration fee for teams that received the grant but it did not include the Challenge Set. This year since it is being included with registration, the Challenge Set will be included in the grant.

The application process for the TVA Grant should be announced shortly (expected around July 1) so watch this website for updates and instructions. Note: teams should register quickly since there is a limit on the number of teams TVA will award the grant to, so do not wait to apply once it becomes available.

Hardship Grants

The TVA Grant, discussed above, only covers the registration (including Challenge Set) for the teams. It does not cover the cost of the Robot or the $75 regional activity fee (used to support our regional qualifiers). If you team needs further assistance to obtain a robot, please fill out THIS FORM to apply for additional assistance. We have grants available and also have robots, donated by TVA, to lend out to teams for the season.

News from the FIRST Global Conference

Just some notes from the conference that 3 members of our team (Tom B. – Partner, Dan K. – Partner and Randall P. FIRST Senior Mentor) attended:

  • Don’t forget that the Challenge Set (aka the Field Setup Kit) is now part of your registration fee. Every team will get a set. Please be aware that you will NOT be able to opt out of buying a Field Set this year (since it is now bundled).
  • A new, shorter Coaches Handbook is now available to help you get started. It can be downloaded HERE. You will note that it is 19 pages (vers 96 pages) and they did this by only keeping only the information you need to get your team ready to compete. There will be a second manual containing info on what to expect at a competition (that should be posted shortly).
  • There will be an “Engineering Journal” template available for teams to use to track their robot design, programming and testing. It is NOT REQUIRED but it will help you team in the design process for the robot. We will post the link when it becomes available.
  • We are always asked “Do I have to use the Lego Software?” For this season the answer is STILL YES, but FIRST is re-evaluating this rule (as they do periodically), but for now you still have to use the Lego supplied programming language.
  • Judging rubrics have changed a bit to reflect the new unified CORE VALUES along with a few other minor changes. They also changed the color of the rubrics – no one could explain why 😉

Regional Activity Fee

We are working on a new way of paying the regional activity fee. Check back for info on how this will be paid, but in the meantime we wanted to let you know the fee will remain $75 (and all funds will be used to support our Qualifier events….there is still no fee for our Championship).

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Hello from FLL Partner’s Conference

We are at the First Partners Conference to learn and share. Just like your FLL teams, those who run regions learn from each other too….

Stay tuned for updates……..

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FIRST HQ has announced that West TN is getting a FIRST SENIOR Mentor (FSM). FSM’s are a group of highly skilled and talented technical and non-technical individuals, who focus on recruiting, supporting and expanding FIRST programs. (For more info on the FSM Program see THIS WEBSITE)

Congratulations to Mr. Randall C. Phillips who also coach’s a FIRST LEGO League Robotics Team and a Business Mentor for a FIRST Robotics Competition Team. He was nominated & accepted to be Memphis and West TN region’s FIRST Senior Mentor, the 1st to have this role in West TN!

You can contact him at

He heads off for FSM training shortly…

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