By Preston Frazier / September 10, 2019

FIRST® teams ready to RISE after SKYSTONE reveal

FIRST® just released the new game for the 2019-2020 FIRST Tech Challenge season, SKYSTONESM presented by Qualcomm, and excitement and good vibes are starting to RISESM all across the country!

Towering Skystones

On Saturday, September 7, hundreds of robotics teams attended kickoff events around the country or watched their social media news feeds feverishly as the game was formally announced. They learned the important aspects of the game and engineering challenges that make the competition fun. The basic construct:

  • This season, teams consist of up to two drivers/operators, a coach, a human player, and a robot.
  • Towers are built on alliance-specific foundation bases using 4" x 8" x 5" stones.
  • There are 56 stones in the game, plus four additional skystones.
  • Robots maneuver the stones underneath a 14" alliance-specific skybridge or an alliance-neutral 20" skybridge.
  • An important way to earn bonus points is by placing your alliance’s capstone, or customized team marker, on the top of your tower.

Release Reactions

After the kickoff, I was curious about what teams thought about the challenge. Joe Slifka, coach of second-year team, RoboVikes 14518 , shared with me that he believes the biggest challenge will be strategically placing and stacking the pieces to build the tower. Joe said, “Putting the skystones in the right places will be challenging – it’s like a real-life Jenga game.”

After the kickoff event at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Jennifer Martin, coach of Cerberus 5482 and Fluffy 5560 said, “FIRST really seems to be encouraging teams to build compact robots.  Last year there were weight limitations, and this year there are height limitations.”

She also mentioned that the biggest challenge in this year’s competition is the fact that a robot’s drive chain will need to be smooth and it will be advantageous to have drivers who can smoothly operate the robot. Jerky movements will affect the movement of the stones on the foundation base.

And excitement about the new game was obvious on social media with posts like:

“Kickoff was great! We are super excited to begin this season! Good luck to everyone with this new challenge!” – Blueprints 7767 

“The 2019-2020 #FTC #SKYSTONE game has been released! Can’t wait for the new season! #FTCKickoff” – VISION 14189

The release of the game rules already has teams prototyping their SKYSTONE robots. Whatever boat your team is in, we know the anticipation for this robotics competition will keep growing, and when it finally arrives, there will be some amazing robots on display at local competitions and then at FIRST World Championships in the spring!

Preparing to Rise

Game Details

Did you miss the SKYSTONE release or want more details? You can check out the game reveal video and find the game manual with additional resources on the FIRST website.


We’re here to help you RISE!

  • Remember, all registered teams get 25% off of spare parts from our FTC Team Store! Save and shop all season long.
  • Your chance to win some FABULOUS prizes kicks off soon. Be sure you’re signed up to be part of our season-long TETRIX® TRIVIA game. On a biweekly basis, we’ll release a new trivia question. The quicker you answer, the more points you can earn. Questions will range in difficulty and aim to help you discover new parts and tips to #buildabetterbot. We’ll be giving hints on our socials. Get signed up and get all the details here:


  • Be sure to tag us in your posts on your platforms, @TETRIXrobotics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and use hashtag #TETRIXTeams and #TETRIXrises. We can never get enough of seeing and celebrating your builds, challenges, and successes.

The TETRIX team and I wish you nothing but the best this upcoming season! Don’t forget to RISE.



TOPICS: Competitions, ROBOTICS, FIRST Tech Challenge, Future Ready, TETRIX Robotics, 21st Century Skills

Preston Frazier

Written by Preston Frazier

Hi all! I’m one of Pitsco’s education advisors and have the pleasure of serving the Midwest. I travel quite a bit visiting with teachers and presenting at workshops whenever I have the opportunity to do so. I’m an alum of the University of Missouri and Pittsburg State University and a supporter of our Big Brothers Big Sisters local chapter. I love traveling, going to sporting events, and hanging out with my wife and daughter whenever possible.