Category Archives: Outreach

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.

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


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!


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


Do you know how to schedule?

Hey there!

Have you ever had a meeting and no one knew when the next meeting was? Well, this might solve your problem!

Assign a communications secretary.

Within our team we have jobs, if you want to read more you can go find more about in the August 28 jobs post. But my job is to schedule every meeting, figure out what time these meetings are, and coordinate a designated snack person. We are very serious about our snacks. Last meeting, Nate’s mom forgot, and felt so bad that she sent two pizzas to our meeting location.  We were so excited! Those pizzas were gone in about two seconds. Mrs. B, you can forget snack and send pizza again any time you want! Thank you so much!

But, anyway, back to scheduling.
During the first few weeks of the season, each family created a Google Calendar and “shared” it with the others. Everyone is so busy — we have to work around soccer practice, piano lesson, Chinese school, voice lesson, cello lesson, track, boy scouts and girl scouts! In Google Calendar, we blocked off which days we were available to meet.  By overlapping everyone’s calendar, we could see the days that worked best for most of us. That is how we came to set Tuesday and Friday as our meeting days. We often skip Fridays because we like to go to the high school football games or middle school dances, but we tell coach we prefer Saturdays because we get more robot time.  Sometimes we feel like we want to get more accomplished so we even pick a third meeting slot, but that is not our normal! We only had to use the Google Calendar for a little while, as everyone has a pretty consistent weekly schedule.
Once we picked which days were best, we had to come up with a system to let everyone know. The problem with just typing email addresses in by hand is that sometimes you miss someone.  You could go to the trouble of making a distribution list in your email program, but then everyone would have to do that individually.  We decided to use one central mailing list, like a post office. We use Google Groups to setup our email alias.  Everyone who wants to be on the list, joins the Google Group.  Then, anyone in the group can email everyone by just remembering the one email alias.  No more worries about someone missing an email!
As communication secretary, after every meeting I will send out an email informing everyone about the next meeting. This is great for those that miss the meeting and need to know or you just simply forget.
I just want to warn you though. DO NOT DEPEND ON SPELL CHECK. AUTOCORRECT IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. ITS YOUR ENEMY!!!Last week, I sent out this email inviting everyone to help with the coach’s yardwork.   Enjoy a laugh at my expense!

Just a friendly reminder that there is aerating tomorrow at Megan’s house from 1-3+.

So start sending those emails!

BNI member/secretary
Kevin F

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Core values, Outreach, Schedule


QR Collage

As a part of my ongoing explorations into the seemingly limitless possibilities of QR (quick response) codes, I incorporated BNI’s various methods of outreach into one JPEG. The codes are compatible with all QR readers found on a mobile device such as an iPhone or Android. If you don’t have one yet, go to Enjoy! -BNI Engineer, Conlon N

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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Outreach


Do you know about the Team Profile Sheet?

Do you know about the Team Profile Sheet? You fill it out with a short blurb about your team, your robot, your project, and take it with you on competition day. It introduces you to the judges, and acts as a reminder of who you are (after they have seen 70 other teams, that is.) We took our team picture today, and it came out kinda nice, even if we were wearing last years’ shirts.

You download the Team Info Sheet from here:

Last year, we were editing this the night before the big competition. So we thought we’d point it out to you early this season so that you can get yours ready in advance.

You are going to need a team photo, so everyone SAY CHEESE!

– Julia N.

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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Competition Day, Outreach


Everyone is Unique!!

At the beginning of the season, our team took very in-depth personality tests to try to see what the different personalities were like throughout our team. The test was around twenty questions but took our team about 45 minutes to complete! We were shocked by some results and some people found out they weren’t really who they thought they were. We made a chart with the collected information we have gathered about our personalities and it is hanging on the wall of our meeting room. We use the chart to make sure we are respecting everyone’s uniqueness and making sure no one’s feelings get hurt. The chart is also occasionally used to kindly tease each other!

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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Core values, Outreach


Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

Batteries Not Included, a First Lego League team based out of Pittsburgh, PA, is now on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Like us, and don’t forget to check out our blog! -BNI

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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Core values, Outreach

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