Jefferson Middle School LEGO Teams Place Well, Earn Spot at Nationals

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Jefferson Middle School’s four FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams competed against the top 48 teams from Central and East Tennessee on February 10, 2024, with the “JMS Master Builders” earning the right to represent Tennessee at the FIRST World Championship in Houston, TX in April by finishing first in the Champions Award category and third in the Robot Performance Award. Additionally, the “Radioactive Brix” won second place in the Champions Award and will represent Tennessee at the Western Edge competition in California in May. The “Atomic Eagles” won the second place Innovation Project Award, and “Secret Innovation” won the second place Robot Award, with their team mentor Dr. Jason Rieger winning the Coach/Mentor Award.

“I’m so proud of all our students for competing and performing so well at a very difficult competition,” said Janie Shanafield, head coach of the “Atomic Eagles,” and Speech-Language Pathologist serving Jefferson Middle and Oak Ridge High School. “Having two teams take first and second in the Champions Award is an amazing accomplishment and speaks to the commitment and hard work of all our students and coaches.”

The Champions Award is the top recognition handed out at competition and celebrates a team that embodies the FIRST LEGO League Challenge experience, by fully embracing its Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in Robot Performance, Robot Design and the Innovation Project. FLL was created to introduce science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to children ages 4-16 through fun, exciting hands-on learning. Participants gain real-world problem-solving experience through a guided, global robotics program, helping today’s students and teachers build a better future together.


Jefferson’s FLL teams have a long and decorated history, winning the state championship six times in the past 11 years. Their success is thanks in no small part to their outstanding coaches, who are committed to growing the STEM community across the region by hosting coaching workshops for new FLL coaches, and organizing annual competitions, including one at the Tennessee Valley Fair to expose attendees to robotics. The ”Atomic Eagles” was the first Jefferson team to form, reestablishing a previously defunct team in 2013, with the “JMS Master Builders” and “RadioActive Brix” forming in 2014 due to increased student interest. The league caps teams to 10 or fewer students, so in 2023, Jefferson added the “Secret Innovation,” squad to provide the FLL opportunity to more students.


Each of Jefferson’s four FIRST Lego League teams are funded by community donations and grants, which allow for students to participate without having to pay a fee. Each student is provided a team t-shirt, and the remaining funds are used to pay the registration fee for the four teams, replace or upgrade equipment, and purchase the yearly challenge mat required to compete.

Having qualified for national competitions, the “JMS Master Builders,” and the “Radioactive Brix,” are seeking donations to help support students cover the cost of airline tickets, hotel rooms, and meals in order to attend their upcoming national competitions. Donations can be made via cash or check to individual coaches or JMS First Lego League.


JMS Master Builders Coach: Lexie Scott Mentor: Christopher Scott • Theo Christian • Lucy Kilpatrick •  Shane Osborne • Norah Price • Ruby Price • Andrew Schwartzenberger • Paisley Wright  Atomic Eagles Coach: Janie Shanafield Mentor: Harold Shanafield • Owen Bass • Addie Driskill • Maverick Fitzwater • Tommy Sauer • Harry Shanafield • Natalie Shanafield • Phoebe Weston  
Radioactive Brix Coach: Theresa Davis Mentor:
Julie Hartye • Preston Atkinson • Moira Davis • Vance Harrison • Ava Hartye • Skyla Hartye • Patrick Henley • Anna Pickel • Nina Vasquez  
Secret Innovation Coach: Molly Bradburn Mentor: Jason Rieger • Freya Andrews • Ella Bradburn • Writson Crowell • Laney May • Patrick Torres • Hannah Rieger • Samantha Rieger  

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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