. FIRST - L&N STEMpunks


What is FIRST?

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. FIRST is More Than Robots. FIRST participation is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their 21st century work-life skills.


How Does FIRST Work?

FIRST engages kids in kindergarten through high school in exciting, Mentor-based, research and robotics programs that help them become science and technology leaders, as well as well-rounded contributors to society.

FIRST Values

Gracious Professionalism®

Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life.


Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. Coopertition involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from Mentors. And it is managing and being managed. Coopertition means competing always, but assisting and enabling others when you can.


What is FRC®?

FIRST Robotics Competition

Grades 9 - 12

FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. Regional and District events are held around the world and are free and open to the public.


What is FTC®?

FIRST Tech Challenge

Grades 7 - 12

Guided by adult Coaches and Mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles (like keeping an engineering notebook), while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and sharing ideas. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and can be programmed using a variety of languages. Teams also must raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach for which they can win awards. Participants have access to tens of millions of dollars in college scholarships. Each season concludes with regional Championships and an exciting FIRST Championship.


What is FLL®?

FIRST Lego League

Grades 4 - 8

Guided by two or more adult Coaches, FIRST LEGO League teams research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and are challenged to develop a solution. They also must design, build, program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS®, then compete on a table-top playing field.


What is FLL Jr.®?

FIRST Lego League Jr.

Grades K - 3

Guided by two or more adult Coaches, teams (up to 6 members, grades K-3) explore a real-world scientific problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc. Then they create a Show Me poster that illustrates their journey of discovery and introduces their team. They also construct a motorized model of what they learned using LEGO elements. In the process, teams learn about teamwork, the wonders of science and technology, and the FIRST LEGO League Jr. Core Values, which include respect, sharing, and critical thinking. At the close of each season, teams come together on a regional basis to strut their stuff, share ideas, celebrate, and have fun!




2020 INFINITE RECHARGE includes two alliances and their robots that are given the mission of defending FIRST city from asteroids. Teams must shoot Power Cells in to one of three ports to energize the Shield Generator and activate stages by turning the Control Panel. Near the end, teams have to hang off the Shield Generator bar in the Rendezvous Point.



2019 DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE includes two alliances of space travellers and their robots that are given the mission of attaching hatches to the rocket and cargo ships as well as obtaining cargo. During the first 15 seconds, the robot must travel the field during a sandstorm in which the human players cannot view the field. During the end of the match, the robot must return to the safety of their habitat.



2018 FIRST POWER UP includes two alliances of video game characters and their human operators who are trapped in an arcade game. Both alliances are working to defeat the boss in order to escape! Robots move cubes across the field to weigh switches and scales in their favor, scoring points based on how long they have ownership. Alliances can also gain advantages by engaging power ups fueled by cubes.



FIRST STEAMworks invites two adventure clubs from an era in which technology relied on steam power to prepare their airships for the ultimate long distance race. Each three-team alliance scores points and prepares to take flight by building steam pressure, gathering materials to start the rotors, and boarding robots onto their airships. The adventurer club with the highest score at the end of the match is the best prepared for the race and wins.


FIRST Stronghold

FIRST Stronghold was the 2016 FRC game. Alliances of three robots embark on a quest to breach their opponents’ fortifications, weaken their tower with boulders, and capture their tower.


Recycle Rush

Recycle Rush is a recycling-themed game played by two Alliances of three robots each. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all game pieces used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.


Aerial Assist

Aerial Assist is played by two competing Alliances of three robots each on a flat 25’ x 54’ foot field, straddled by a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor. The objective is to score as many balls in goals as possible during a two (2)-minute and 30-second match. The more Alliances score their ball in their goals, and the more they work together to do it, the more points their Alliance receives.


Ultimate Ascent

Ultimate Ascent is played by two competing alliances on a flat, 27 x 54 ft field. Each alliance consists of three robots. They compete to score as many discs into their goals as they can during a two (2)-minute and fifteen (15)-second match. The higher the goal in which the disc is scored, the more points the alliance receives.


Rebound Rumble

Rebound Rumble is played by two competing alliances on a flat, 27 x 54 ft field. Each alliance consists of three robots. They compete to score as many basketballs into their hoops as they can during a 2 minute and 15 second match. The higher the hoop in which the basketball is scored, the more points the alliance receives.



Tennessee FIRST

Tennessee FIRST (TNFIRST for short) organizes the Smoky Mountains Regional held in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee and works to promote FRC, FTC, FLL, and Jr. FLL teams in the state of Tennessee. TNFIRST works with 59 FRC teams, 23 FTC teams, 234 FLL teams, and 27 Jr. FLL teams from cities like Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and many more. TNFIRST's director is LJ Robinson and their senior mentor is Sydney Buckner.


Smoky Mountains Regional

The Smoky Mountains Regional is Tennessee's regional FRC event, held at the Thompson-Boling Arena. The 2019 Smoky Mountains Regional will be held from March 28th to March 30th.


LJ Robinson

LJ manages and runs TNFIRST. She coordinates with local FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST Lego League, and FIRST Lego League Junior teams to help them grow and thrive. She is also responsible for planning events like the regional kickoff and the Smoky Mountains Regional.

TNFIRST Director since 2011

Sydney Buckner

Sydney Buckner is a neuroscience undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Sydney is a FIRST Robotics Competition alum and has mentored multiple FIRST LEGO League Junior and FIRST LEGO League teams in Tennessee. Sydney is excited to stay involved as a FIRST Senior Mentor and improve, grow, and sustain FIRST in the state of Tennessee. She previously was a member of team 4265, the Secret City Wildbots.

TNFIRST Senior Mentor since 2014