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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Professional Development

FIRST Education is hitting the road this summer and may be coming to a city near you! Gather your colleagues and join us in one of three cities for a fun and valuable two-day training event:

  • Atlanta, Georgia: July 24-25 – North Springs Charter High School
  • Compton, California: August 6-7 – site TBD
  • Manchester, New Hampshire: August 21-22 – FIRST® Place

*Participants will receive a certificate for CEU credits upon completion of the 14-hour course.

Click here for more information and to register.

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May Newsletter

To All,

Thank you for your support for this past season.  Attached is a newsletter to summarize this year’s events and for next year’s theme and news.  Have a Great Summer! FLL Team
May Newsletter

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Registration Now Opened

Registration for FLL Teams for the Into Orbit Season is NOW OPENED

Coaches can register their teams via their dashboard.

To learn about the upcoming season CLICK HERE

Please make sure you read A FEW NOTES for info on the TVA Grant and other important info.

Again, it is suggested you register, but do not pay, while TVA works out the details of the grant for this season.

If you wish to register an existing team, but do not have access to the account, please contact us at and we will assist you.

Additional Info from FIRST:

FIRST Launch 2019 Mission Updates
FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League

Global Challenge Release for FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League programs this year is set for August 1, 2018

Find product and pricing information here (FIRST LEGO League Jr.) and here (FIRST LEGO League) [please note – the $75 Regional Activity Fee is still in effect for the West TN FLL Region].

FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League materials

Inspire Sets and Challenge Sets are anticipated to arrive in the United States by mid-July and will ship to customers immediately upon arrival.


FIRST LEGO League team registration will include their Challenge Set. FIRST LEGO League Season Pass registrations will not include a competitive team option. Coaches interested in advancing a team or team to an official event should register for the desired number of individual teams.

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New Unified FIRST Core Values Announced

To further the goal of a continuous program from Kindergarten to the senior year of high school, FIRST has unified the Core Values across all the programs. The New Core Values are below:

FIRST Core Values

We express the FIRST philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition through our Core Values:

  • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
  • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
  • Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
  • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
  • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
  • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!

This will replace the old FLL Core Values shown below:

FIRST® LEGO® League Core Values:
▲ We are a team.
▲ We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our Coaches and Mentors.
▲ We know our Coaches and Mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together.
▲ We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
▲ What we discover is more important than what we win.
▲ We share our experiences with others.
▲ We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
▲ We have FUN

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