Jefferson Middle School Robotics Team Headed to World Competition in April

February 28, 2018

Three robotics teams from Jefferson Middle School competed in the FIRST Lego League East Tennessee State Championship at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville on February 10, 2018. The Atomic Eagles qualified to represent Jefferson Middle School and Tennessee at the FIRST LEGO World Championships in Houston in April.

To compete in the state championship, teams must first qualify at either the Knoxville, Nashville, Tullahoma, Bristol, or Johnson City competitions. The Atomic Eagles, JMS Master Builders, and Radioactive Brix all qualified in Knoxville on December 10, 2017 at Hardin Valley Academy.

At the East Tennessee Championship, the Radioactive Brix (team # 3131), including members Johnny Clark, Abby Ellis, Christopher Gorsuch, Roxanne Farahi, Eden Hatmaker, Wesley Hixson, Henry Landau, and Colby Lawson, finished the robot challenge game with a high score of 135. The team coach is Norma Franco and the team mentor is Justin Lawson.

The JMS Master Builders (team #3132), with team members Matthew Alexander, Adam Blanchard, Sydney Blanchard, Jacob Mohr, Jessica Mohr, Stella Scott, Amelia Thomson, and Sadie Thomson, finished the robot challenge with a high score of 190 and won the first place Robot Mechanical Design award. The team coach is Lexie Scott and the team mentor is Jeff Thomson.

The Atomic Eagles (team #336) with team members Ben Dallas, Aaron Fiscor, Lindsey Fiscor, Aaliyah Herron, Marissa Kenworthy, Amelie Nagle, Brian Qu, and Alex Shanafield, finished the robot challenge game with a high score of 145 and won the first place overall Champions Award. The Atomic Eagles will represent Jefferson Middle School and Tennessee at the FIRST LEGO World Championships in Houston, Texas, on April 18-21, 2018. The team coaches are Janie Shanafield and David Hundermark and the team mentor is Harold Shanafield.

FIRST Lego League began in 1999 and sponsors international competitions for students ages 9-14. The World Championship competitions are in the spring, and teams from more than 50 countries compete in the areas of research, robot design, robot performance, and core values. Core values presentations demonstrate how the team has incorporated the eight core values set forth by FIRST into their team and life as a middle school student.

The annual FIRST Lego League theme is the basis of the research project. This year’s theme was “HydroDynamics.” Each team spent months developing a research project relating to how we find, transport, use, or dispose of water.  The Atomic Eagles titled their project, “Solar Distiller for Kenya.” The Master Builders titled their project, “Hydroponics in Brackish Water.” The RadioActive Brix titled their project, "Water Print" – an app that tracks a family’s home water and gives suggestions for conservation (visit Each team presented ideas with a skit and answered questions about the project for the judges. For Robot Design, team members described their robot and Lego Mindstorms EV3 programs to judges. They explained why and how they built their robot, the functions of the robot, and elements they incorporated over the course of the season. The Robot Game consisted of three 2:30 minute rounds. Each team’s robot was to autonomously navigate obstacles and perform tasks on the board. Students spent months designing, building, and programming their robot.

FIRST Lego League is a program that truly addresses the 4 C's: Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Collaboration. Students incorporated the 4 Cs through the robot game, project, and core values competitions. A team of 2-10 students used their creativity when designing the robot and solving missions, and solving the problem based on the annual theme. Students used communication skills when sharing their project and robot with both judges and the community and amongst themselves while preparing for competition. The FIRST Lego League program includes both problem-based learning (PBL) and science technology engineering, and math (STEM) skills in one extracurricular program.