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August 14, 2015

Suzanne HilkerStaff Writer

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There was chanting, there was laughing and there was a lot of geeking out over technology.

I spent the last two days with more than 100 very enthusiastic Twin Cities-area students at Geek Squad Academy in St. Paul. Best Buy puts on these camps across the country to give underserved kids hands-on experience with technology to help develop skills and inspire future careers. The curriculum invites them to become “Junior Agents” through exploring digital citizenship, film production, computer programming and robotics, as well as 3D printing and circuitry.

This camp was one of more than 30 held across the country this year, adding more alumni to the 20,000 Junior Agents who have graduated from previous programs. Hundreds of Geek Squad Agents and Best Buy Blue Shirts bring their passion for technology and spirit of service to help make it all happen. Luckily, in St. Paul, they let some of us corporate employees join in the fun.

I spent the first day helping students from age 7 to 18 learn about Digital Citizenship, a crucial topic. We discussed how it feels to be bullied online and how future colleges and employers often look at an applicants’ social media history as a way to see what kind of people they are.

The next day, I witnessed creativity in action during a Film Production class as students filmed and edited short movies in a matter of an hour. I could feel the excitement in the room when the scripts were turned in and the technology was put in their hands. Horror movies, dance-offs and epic fight scenes were echoing through the halls. But the best part of my day was when I overheard a 12-year-old boy say the class was pretty cool and then quietly add that he’d never held a camera before.

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Who knows, I might have been sitting with the next Spielberg or Dr. Dre. But what I do know is that these kids are wildly talented. Some of them surprised themselves at what they could accomplish, and they definitely taught me more than I taught them.

For more information about Geek Squad Academy visit https://academy.geeksquad.com.

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