Category Archives: Core values

Our T Shirts Arrived

Our T-shirts arrived today.  Look at how cool they are!  the QR code on the front actually scans!   It also has our favorite quote on the back, “What could possibly go wrong?”   It took hours to get the whole design decided on, and it was definitely an exercise in teamwork!

-Julia N.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Core values


All In a Day’s Work

Today we took two giant steps towards the competition day. We met with a local competitor team to compare robots and share ideas and innovations, and had a conference call with Anne Reid, Deputy Regional Food and Drug Director for the South East Region of the United States. We learned a lot, and we hope to share some of that insight here, with all of you, our loyal readers.

We met today with the Mother of Sorrows School FLL Team ‘The Robo Eagles’. They had a highly developed gear rig designed to get both the thermometer and cooking timer at the same time. I have to say, I’m jealous. It was a nice setup. I talked with Jonah, who was one of the lead engineers of the team, about some common problems facing both teams. We then, in the spirit of coopetition™, took to working on a sort of alignment tool for the cooking timer to help ensure accuracy on that mission for the Robo Eagles. It came out quite well, and just goes to show that two (dozen) heads are better than one.

Batteries Not Included and the MOSS Robo Eagles pose for a picture after a friendly competition and pizza lunch.

As another reference for our presentation, we called up Anne Reid, Deputy Director of the FDA for our region. Our group talked to her for about half an hour and presented her with an idea. She said that she loved our idea and would love to see it in operation. Mrs. Reid also talked us through the timeline of a recall, filling in some of the blanks we had even after our visit with Mrs. Isherwood a couple of weeks ago. (Anyone who missed that can read that post here).

BNI around the conference call phone.

All in all, it was a very productive day. We accomplished a lot and learned even more. We hope to see the Robo Eagles and all of you on the board this Saturday! Good luck to you, one and all. -Conlon N

For the official project reveal paragraph and exclusive photographs from our visit with Mr. Sealy (Vice President of Risk Management at the Giant Eagle Corporation), click here.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Core values, Outreach


Get to know BNI-Megan M


My name is Megan and I have been on the team for two years.  I am 13 years old and in 8th grade with Kevin, Nate, and Conlon.  My dad is the coach of our team, Batteries Not Included.

I like to: Talk to my friends, draw, paint, practice clarinet, saxophone, and piano, read, play with my dog and turtle, cook, play games, and daydream.

I was a high S and I on the DISC test (see below).

My favorite subject in school is band, but my favorite academic class is science. I want to go to college to Cornell University.  I want to be a forensic anthropologist when I grow up and be in the Pittsburgh Symphony for clarinet.

For me, Core Values means to work together.  I think it is really important to not think you are above everyone, and listen to everyone’s ideas before you state yours.  You might learn something from other people, and incorporating your idea with others, who knows where you and your team can go!

P.S.: Go Clarinet!


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Core values


Get to Know BNI – Ashley (with bonus robot video)

Hi, my name is Ashley! I am twelve years old and in sixth grade.

My favorite school subjects have always been math and science. I enjoy playing the clarinet and piano, archery, and Girl Scouts.

I got into FLL a few months ago when my friend, Julia, told me about it. It turned out to be a lot of fun!

In my opinion, core values mean that you can accomplish work and have fun at the same time, work well in a team and as an individual, and that you are able to apply the skills you learn in FLL to the real world.

Good luck, and have fun!

Here is a link to a video of one of our completed runs, called descriptively “Run 4.” I helped to build the attachments.

Click HERE for Facebook video.

Click HERE to go to our Facebook page

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Core values


What is FLL?

Due to the large amount of site traffic, we decided to back up a bit and explain what the point of all of this craziness is.

The FIRST Lego League (FLL) competition is a internationally recognized event focused on two main parts: the robot game and the project.

First Lego League is an education initiative aimed at middle school aged kids to inspire them to pursue careers in science and engineering. First and foremost, it’s a blast.

Our team, cleverly named Batteries Not Included, started sometime before last season (September to early December). To be honest, I don’t know much about the founding. I wasn’t recruited for a month afterwards. But apparently a few of my friends got together and ordered the starter kit and went to work. First, let’s back up.

The entire competiton is split into two parts, the robot and the project. The robot is an autonomous vehicle made out of the Lego Mindstorm kit (of your own design) that must perform certain challenges. For each challenge (or mission), your team is awarded points. The team with the most points at the end of three attempts wins.

The project is a research project on a predetermined topic (this year’s topic is food safety) in order to design a solution to a problem within the topic. For example, our entry into last year’s bio-medical topic was a filter designed to prevent clots from leaving the heart and causing massive damage. We wrote up a five minute presentation (and a song) and presented our idea to a panel of three or four judges. We ended up placing 1st in the project and 3rd overall.

This year’s competition is on December 3rd, so we are finalizing our designs and scripts for the big day. If you want to learn more about our team or the competition, check out the links below. Feel free to like/follow/+1 us on our social media sites!


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Competition Day, Core values, Outreach


Getting to Know BNI-Winston F.

Winston at work on the computer

Hi! My name is Winston F. I like to say that I am one real hardcore video game nerd and proud of it. I own a PS3 (which is always better than Xbox) and a computer. Today I got Modern Warfare 3 for PS3. I play a wide variety of games from RTS’s (Real Time Strategies) like Starcraft 2, FPS’s (First person Shooters) like MW3, and RPG’s (Role Playing Games) like Skyrim Elder Scrolls V. Like all other hardcore gamers out there, I feel that there games have a very vital role in life. First they improve Eye Hand Coordination. Next, they help make children learn problem solving skills needed for adult jobs and projects. Also they teach younger kids learning skills in a fun way that they enjoy rather than paper and pencil worksheets. Finally it teaches everybody teamwork by working together and complete what they need to in a creative fantasy world like World of Warcraft and Minecraft.

Away from video games, in my social life I play Tenor Saxophone and enjoy socializing with my friends. My favorite subject in school is Math because of the problem solving and brain power usage. I also believe that my computer is always in need of something new, so I always search the web for the latest technology and prices. I play MTG (Magic the Gathering) as long as all the boys on this robot team. Also I am in Boy Scouts and enjoy spending my time with friends outdoors chatting and doing fun activities. I am also going to the 2013 Jamboree in West Virginia. I plan to become a doctor when I grow up and spend time with my family. Finally I enjoy watching Day9 which is a Starcraft commentator and shoutcaster. His link is here ——>

What Core Values means to me is the fundamental base to teamwork. Everybody has experienced teamwork somewhere in their life. Since I am in Boy Scouts every time we create something like a monkey bridge or a meal, many people have to work on it to satisfy a group. Even in every day life, like in school when you are doing a group project, Core Values still caries with you from your robot team to your everyday life.

As for controversial thinking, I think that fruit snacks taste good and in the future we will all buy from Amazon. Fruit snacks are squishy, sugary, and irresistible. As for Amazon, …… Well Amazon is just cool so I’ll just say that it will take over the world in the next 351 years. So finally I think that I will become a video game champion at Starcraft 2 in the next 2 years and make it to big Starcraft events like MLG, Blizzcon, and NASL.

So as we conclude our story of my personality, I just want to thank all those out there for supporting video games and other stress inducing activities. I find that all the time that 1337 appears in clan tags WAY to many times.

Thumbs Up for Modern Warfare 3 and Starcraft 2,

Winston  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 8, 2011 in Core values


Get to know BNI – Nate B.


My name is Nathan, but my well known nickname is Nate. I’m new to BNI this year and I really like it so far! I mainly work on software and troubleshooting with the robot, but sometimes I am needed to help build an attachment or jig. In addition to robotics, I also play soccer, play basketball, ski, and run track. I am also in the school band and play trumpet.

I am a conversationalist, so I always like talking to people and doing group work. I try to respect everyone’s different personalities so our team can have positive attitudes and be more productive.

My favorite subject in school is science, but math is a close second. I love working with chemicals and I am a bit of a pyromaniac. Sometimes I just can’t resist playing with fire!

I love music! As I mentioned before, I play trumpet in the school band and I am currently second chair. I also play piano and guitar (acoustic and electric). I am also interested in learning how to play the saxophone. I also love to use music software like garageband and noteworthy when I have time.

I’ve always wanted to go bungee jumped off of a high bridge or something. I have no idea why but it just sounds really fun to me.

I’m really interested into medicine and how our body works. I’m not really sure if I want to get into a medical career or not, but if I did, I’d like to be a cardiologist.

Good luck to everyone and thanks for reading!

~ Nate

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Core values


Get to know BNI – co-coach Ms. Renze

Hi everyone,

The team democratically declared that coaches had to write an “About Me” post as well, so here I am!

This is my second year helping with the team as an assistant coach, and I enjoy it immensely.  It really surprised me at first that the First Lego League robotics competition was so much more than building the Lego robot and programming its tasks.  It also really surprised me that doing a team project could be as much fun as the robotics side of it! Who knew!

I am a computer engineer by trade, and originally thought I could help the team with the computers and the programming. Well, the kids don’t really need a lot of help programming anymore and they seem to know more about the computers than I do these days, so I have tried to teach them some advanced topics like subroutines, variables, the importance of documentation, source code control, and being organized in general — which is pretty hard to do when seven team members are all working on the same project files!  This year, I’ve taken the lead on the project, and am having fun digging into FDA recalls, and the use of QR codes to speed the process.

To me, core values means watching these guys figure out something new, applying it at robot team, and then finding a way to apply it in real life. Last year at the competition, I watched in awe as our strongest, most vocal team members graciously deferred judges’ questions to the less aggressive, less confident team members, helping them, prompting them. I was watching them lift each other up, and let me tell you, it nearly brought me to tears.

To be part of a team means that sometimes we don’t agree, and sometimes we have to do something we’d rather not, but we do it anyway, cheerfully.  That is a life lesson right there. So many times in life at work adults have to do something unpleasant, and we do it with a smile!  The kids learn this too, at every single meeting.

So thank you FLL, for the opportunity to teach these life lessons to these very bright kids. Thank you for the opportunity to have fun at the competition. Thank you Pittsburgh Robotics Center for hosting our event. We are having a blast with it this year, and as we know from the FLL core values, when we have fun — everyone wins!

Mary Beth Renze
Batteries Not Include, co-coach


Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Competition Day, Core values


Get to Know BNI – Conlon N

Well, ‘the powers that be’ wanted me to use a template for this, but I couldn’t find it. So I’ll wing it. Story of my life.

I’m Conlon N, Chief Engineer and Brickmaster. (I like that. It has a nice ring to it.) I am mostly a hardware engineer, but have been tasked with the outreach campaign for our team (that’s why my name will pop up from time to time on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+).  I always have an electronic in my hand, trying to get the internet to cooperate (It hasn’t yet). I play the Cello, Soccer, and Minecraft. My current obsession are these QR codes, (Yes, I’m to blame for the project this year. No hints yet, but I promise more information about our research will be dropping soon) Data Matrices, and Microsoft Tags. Microsoft Tags look cooler, but require the official app to be readable (less market share). Attached are some of my creations (One is, yes, Minecraft.) and pictures of myself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m 13 and currently in eight grade. I’ve been on the team for two seasons, thanks to a close friend who drafted me last summer. I’ve babied the NXT ever since. (The double bumper? That was me. With help, of course, but it was no easy task) Scratch that. That post is scheduled for next week.

What does core values mean to me? Everything. FLL has issued what I call a ’42 Statement’ – Life, the universe, and everything can be derived from the guidelines put forth in the rules. (Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – For those who have no idea what the meaning of life is; It’s 42) They tell you to compete, but cooperate. To innovate and disagree, yet lift each other up. Those simple rules can help control your actions and make you a better and more sensitive person.

Like I said, no template, so I think I’m done. Just to make sure, check out our outreach pages on the social networks. We release service exclusive content on each site from time to time, so be sure to check all of them. Links can be found on the right sidebar. —>

Until next time! -Conlon

P.S. Just to clarify, we named this blog before we got our hands on the rule sheets. We really ought to call it ‘coopertition’ to go along with the true FLL core value of cooperative competition. But, honestly, I like ours better. 😀 (Hint: Expect a major blog overhaul as we get closer to the competition. You may even get to see a video of our presentation.)

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Core values


Get to Know BNI- Kevin F

Hi! My name is Kevin. I am the Official BNI secretary/Computer Crazy guy/Tech Guy( You might ask why, well I need to have at least 3 TB of data(yes this is more than 3000GB of data)). (You can say that I guess) This is my second year on BNI. I am 14 years old and in 8th grade. Something that might surprise you about me is that I am a HUGE Packers fan!!!!!:) (I am predicitng that the Packers will have a PERFECT SEASON!) And Living in Pittsburgh!!!! Also many of my friends know that I am weird. I can be very unpredictable at many times! Just like the picture of me!

My favorite subject is science. There are many things in life that puzzle me. One is the mystery of science. We, the human race, will never fully understand the fundamentals of science.

Besides robotics I enjoy boy scouts, playing Tenor Sax, community service, and running. I Ski, run cross country, and run track.

In the fall of 2010 my friend asked me to join and I did. I am sure glad that I did! I like that we can explore new topics that we might never even learn in our lifetime.

 I want to become a surgeon when I become older.

What does Core Values mean to me? Well it means responsibility, helpfulness, eagerness to work, leadership, and MOST IMPORTANTLY having fun are all part of what makes a team successful. All this will reward you at the competition!

Have fun and good luck on a successful season!


BNI Communications Secretary/Computer Crazy Guy/Tech Guy

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Core values

%d bloggers like this: