he Highland School Robotics Program embodies the FIRST® Robotics mission for its students: "Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
Robotics programs in each of our three divisions are designed to show students of every age that science, technology, and problem-solving are not only fun and rewarding but are proven paths to successful careers and a bright future. Students who participate in FIRST programs are significantly more likely to attend college and major in science or engineering fields.

Lower School Junior FIRST® LEGO® League

Highland’s Junior LEGO League for students ages six to nine, is led by Lower School Science teacher Claire Mello and Lower School technology teacher Michelle Daniel-Shenk. The goal of the first rung of Highland's robotics program is to attract young students who have a passion for discovery.

Lower School teams are broken down by grade. Students work together to combine elements of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. The hands-on projects using LEGO MINDSTORM kits that are essential to our Lower School robotics program create a stepping-stone from novice skill work to the Middle School’s FIRST LEGO League, and eventually Highland’s Upper School robotics program.

Each year, the teams are given a theme that they must plan their projects around. Recent themes have included “Super Seniors,” and "Trash Tech" in which the students design and build LEGO MINDSTORM robots that assist and benefit the elderly and the environment. The tasks assigned for the competitions are not easy, but Highland’s Junior LEGO League team members are always ready for the challenge. 

Middle School FIRST® LEGO® League

In Middle School, our FIRST LEGO League team introduces students in grades 5-8 to real-world engineering challenges. Students build LEGO MINDSTORM robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FLL teams are coached by Highland teachers.  

FIRST® Robotic Competitions in the Upper School

Membership on Team Robohawk is available to all students in grades 8th – 12th and no prior experience is required. Team members must demonstrate a willingness to learn and become an active and responsible member of the team. Because Team Robohawk is structured much like a small technology firm – with both a build and business divisions – it is managed and run by different students and mentors. While some students may find that their interests overlap, both sides of the teamwork coherently to offer a wide variety of opportunities for the team and its members.

In robotics, team members get the opportunity to work with adult mentors with expertise in business, computer, electrical, mechanical, aerospace and robotic engineering as well as work on projects, unlike anything they will experience in the classroom thus enabling them to discover the world of STEAM in a whole new way.

To learn more about the benefits of being involved in Highland's robotics teams competing in FIRST, click any of the expanding boxes below:

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  • FIRST LEGO League (Grades 5-8)

    Middle School focuses on First LEGO League
    In FIRST LEGO League, children are immersed in real-world science and technology challenges. Teams design their own solution to a current scientific question or problem and build autonomous LEGO robots that perform a series of missions. Through their participation, children develop valuable life skills and discover exciting career possibilities while learning that they can make a positive contribution to society.

    Children ages 9 to 14 get to:
    • Create innovative solutions for challenges facing today’s scientists as part of their research project.
    • Strategize, design, build, program, and test a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology.
    • Apply real-world math and science concepts.
    • Develop employment and life skills including critical thinking, time management, collaboration, and communication while becoming more self confident.
    • Become involved in their local and global community.
    • Choose to participate in official tournaments and local events.
    • Qualify for an invitation to World Festival.
    • Engage in team activities guided by FLL Core Values.
  • FIRST Robotics Competition – FRC (Grades 8-12)

    Competitive robotics in Upper School
    Dubbed a varsity Sport for the Mind,™(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 a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real world” engineering as a student can get. Professional Mentors volunteer their time and talents to guide each team.
    Students get to:
    • Work alongside professional engineers.
    • Build and compete with a robot of their own design.
    • Learn and use sophisticated hardware and software.
    • Develop design, project management, programming, teamwork, and strategic thinking skills.
    • Earn a place in the Championship.
    • Qualify for over $16 million in college scholarships.
  • Junior FIRST LEGO League (Grades 1-4)

    Lower School students compete in Junior FIRST LEGO League
    Junior FIRST LEGO League captures young children’s inherent curiosity and directs it toward discovering the wonders of science and technology. This program features a real-world scientific concept to be explored through research, teamwork, construction, and imagination. Guided by adult Coaches, teams use LEGO
    ®bricks to build a model that moves and develop a Show-Me Poster to illustrate their journey.

    Children ages 6 to 9 get to:
    • Design and build a challenge-related model using LEGO components.
    • Create a Show-Me poster and practice presentation skills.
    • Explore challenges facing today’s scientists.
    • Discover real-world math and science.
    • Begin developing teamwork skills.
    • Choose to participate in events and celebrations.
    • Engage in team activities guided by Jr.FLL Core Values.


Highland School is a co-ed independent Pre-K2 to Grade 12 day school located in Warrenton, Virginia.