FRA Innovation Labs


The state-of-the-art Upper School Innovation Lab is a 2,000-square-foot space providing a dynamic, collaborative learning environment where students are able to use hands-on experiences and technology to build, create, design, and problem solve. The Upper School Innovation Lab features multiple 3D printers, a laser cutter and etcher, VR and AR stations, drones, 3D scanner, CNC machine, two VEX VRC robotics arenas, classroom space and a full woodshop.


The Middle School Innovation Lab features 3D printers, a robotics arena, and a Universal laser cutter that can etch, engrave, and cut all materials including paper, glass, cardboard, and wood. The lab also has a Roland vinyl cutter that students can use for printing stickers and vinyl decals they have designed. The lab is also home to the middle school robotics program, which allows our students to complete at the local and national level.


The Lower School Innovation Lab is adjacent to the library and media center to allow students to conduct research in support of their ideas. Getting kids excited to propel their understanding of the things around them is the goal of this space.  Students are engaged in project-based learning, which is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. The future for the space includes a lower school robotics team starting with coding for our youngest learners, a film production club that creates a weekly production, and a tinker space where students can build.

Upper School

Lower & Middle School

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Innovation Lab News

Four Students Inducted into The International Robotics Honor Society

On October 25, 2023, FRA inducted four new students to our International Robotics Honor Society chapter. The International Robotics Honor Society was created in 2018 to honor the 10th anniversary of the inaugural VEX Robotics World Championship Tournament. FRA’s IRHS chapter was the first in the state of Tennessee. The International Robotics Honor Society has been explicitly developed to recognize individual students who meet specified criteria within scholarship, leadership, personal character, community service, and robotics.

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RoboPanthers Compete at World Championships

The RoboPanthers competed at the World Championships recently.

The 97934S team (Witt Maxwell, Mary Katherine McDowell, and Rhys Jones) and the 97934V team (Duff Hankins, Walker Jones, Sean Ross, Robert Queen) were the two teams competed. Two RoboPanther alums competed in the VEXU (university) World Championships: Stephen Hohnholt (class of 2020) competed for Purdue; their team were Worlds Finalists, and Christopher May (class of 2021) competed for Clemson.

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RoboPanthers bring home the hardware!

The RoboPanthers competed in the CGLA Holiday Classic this weekend, capturing numerous awards and the championship title. Team 97934W (Carter Simons, Patrick Hanley, Beetle Bowling, Peter Nau, and Calleigh Mangrum) won the trifecta as Tournament Champions, Skills Champions, and brought home the Excellence Award. Team 97934S (Witt Maxwell, Mary Katherine McDowell, Rhys Jones, and Luna Burchwell) won the Design Award, and both teams have qualified for the State Championship.

Way to go, RoboPanthers

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Alumni Spotlight: David Chandler '17

David Chandler graduated from FRA in 2017 and went on to attend Valparaiso University in Indiana. At Valparaiso, David studied computer engineering and just recently graduated this past May. During his time at FRA, David was very involved with the FRA robotics team, the performing arts, as well as helping teach design thinking courses during the summers. David has bee n important in not only building our program stronger within the FRA community, but in helping us learn how to better prepare students for moving on to college.

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Congratulations to our RoboPanther Teams!

Over the weekend, our RoboPanther teams saw amazing success after competing at the State Tournament. Although our upper school team’s season ended, we are incredibly proud of all their hard work and determination leading up to each competition. All five FRA upper school teams qualified for the State Tournament, with about 70% of the team being new to robotics. Our middle school teams also performed incredibly well at the VEX IQ State Championship, with team 56123C winning the Innovate Award.

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