The Geek Squad conducts a hands-on, two-day training for teens. The project is in its 11th successful year. The first local Geek Squad Academy was held on June 28 and 29 of 2017 at the Best Buy headquarters in Richfield.
Andrea Riehl, program manager for Geek Squad Academy Camp, told MSR, “[Our camps] are technology camps [where] we offer [programs] to youth typically living in underprivileged areas. The camps are designed to give students tech skills, get some knowledge of potential tech careers, and try to just help improve their interest in technology.”
At the Minnesota camps and at most of the camps across the country during summer months, Geek Squad Academy offers classes in:
- 3-D designs where students can build a 3-D house and a 3-D table, using a 3-D printer.
- HTML (hypertext markup language), which is the basic building blocks of the web. Students will work in groups to use codes to build their own web pages.
- A programming class, where students write a program and make it come to life on the robot.
- Digital compass to help students understand their digital footprint (privacy settings, source evaluations, web etiquette).
- Digital music where students create and build their own songs.
Students receive a flash drive to encourage them to keep working on their project after the program ends.
Riehl, currently the program manager, started with Geek Squad as an agent about six years ago and moved into the Academy Camp as an instructor. Two years ago, she became a field lieutenant, “a person who travels around to all of the different camps on an individual basis.” In 2016, she became the Academy Camp’s program manager.
When the camp began, its focus was to get more girls into technology. “Years ago,” Riehl said, “one of our female double agents noticed that she was…one of a few women in the technology field.”
She said the first camp was in 2007, at an elementary school. Several employees went into the school to teach students using many of the concepts being used today. The program eventually included building a computer. Geek Squad now teaches disadvantaged boys and girls. “In 2011, we partnered with the Obama Administration to do military camps. In 2015, we went international and did our first camp in Canada.”
Students love the program. Gloria, a 13-year old Lakeville student said, “I have had a lot of fun doing… the coding. My favorite part has been meeting new friends and seeing what [the Best Buy corporate office] looks like in here.” She added, “My favorite class I have taken so far has been 3-D coding.” She recommended the class to others and would definitely come back, given the opportunity.
If you are considering your child for the Geek Squad Academy Camp, the Minnesota Vikings will be partnering with Best Buy in August with another two-day camp in Eden Prairie. For more information go to www.academy.geeksquad.com.
Brandi D. Phillips welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.