Local family makes business out of robotics

32614_robot2An Afton family’s obsession has grown into a new business in the form of Robot Adventures, LLC. Jeannie Badger and her family are about to embark on a new business venture to share their love of robotics with students in the area.
Jeannie Badger got involved in robotics and the competitive Lego robotics program called Lego League when her oldest son signed up for a Lego League team at Afton-Lakeland Elementary in fifth grade. She’s coached multiple teams over the past six years.
“I got involved in the team, and it was one of the first in the district,” said Kyle Badger, Jeannie Badger’s oldest son and a junior at Stillwater Area High School. “She (Jeannie) started coming to stuff and learned more about it, and it kind of became an obsession for our whole family. I just thought I’d enjoy it, and I stuck with it from fifth to ninth grade. Now I mentor teams and work on coaching. I also referee and help at Lego competitions too.”
Family members are working on setting up a space in the Lakeland Village Mall in Lakeland and will have summer classes and camps this year.
“We plan on having classes for the younger kids and older kids,” Jeannie Badger said. “We’re making robots and learning basic programming, and it will act as a way to teach more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) without the kids thinking they’re learning about it.”
Other classes include creating Rube Goldberg Machines, having space-themed days and learning new things. The STEM emphasis will help students learn engineering, math, programming and problem-solving skills.
“The kids will all get the hands-on experience that my boys got,” Badger said. “We’ll have instructors and assistants that have years and years of experience, including my boys (Kyle and Adam). They’ve gone to state competitions with their teams a few times.”
“We didn’t know she was planning on starting a business with this, but it’ll be fun to help out the kids this summer,” Kyle said.
Though an open house for the business isn’t until early June, registration is now open for summer courses. The courses and camps are broken down into age specific categories but serve those in first through seventh grades. They include introductory and intermediate Lego NXT robotics programming and engineering, Rube Goldberg mini camps, a deep space terraformers robotics camp, Lego Mindstorms robotics and programming classes and a class called Girls Rock, which is geared toward girls.
“We’re hoping to get the girls involved at a younger age,” Jeannie said. “We’d love to get them involved in engineering. There’s only a few Lego League teams of girls, and it will help them develop their STEM skills. There’s no reason that girls can’t play with Legos for their whole life. Even though I have all boys, I know that they can have fun with this too.”
Jeannie’s youngest son Ethan is also very excited.
“One of the cool things about this is that it’s all about the challenges,” he said. “When we had a wheel wobbling, we had to take it all apart and fix it so that it worked and ran well. There’s this really cool sensor that my mom found, because she’s always buying us Legos, that lets us take off the back wheels when they give us issues and just moves around without wheels.”
Ethan went on to show off his skills and drive one of his robots around the Gazette offices.
Classes and camp times vary. Full-day camps for older students last five days and cost $300, while camps for younger kids are four half-days and cost $120. In the future Jeannie Badger hopes to expand her offerings to adults.
More information on the new business can be found at RobotAdventuresLLC.com.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]