Learning to succeed in the digital age with the Geek Squad at the B&G Club

 The Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster hosted the Geek Squad Academy at the club on Wednesday and Thursday, August 14 and 15, 2019. Geek Squad Academy is a no cost two day, hands-on technology program designed for youth ages 10-18. When attending, youth become “Junior Agents” and get hands-on experience with some of the newest and coolest technology, with instructors from Best Buy and Geek Squad. This two day camp experience allowed students to explore technology like: coding. programming, film production/photography, 3D-design, digital music and digital citizenship. Some student created some 30 second stop action movies with Lego’s during the academy. Helping the student work the camera is Anthony Rodriguez. From left listening to him is Semy Kim, 16, Alexiss Edmonds, 13, and Nicole Robinson, 15. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

By Daniel Monahan  | Sentinel & Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — In the digital age, becoming familiar with and understanding new technologies is important for people of all ages and students at the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster rolled up their sleeves Wednesday to start on their own technology journey.

The Geek Squad Academy, in a partnership with Best Buy, was hosted at the club with the goal of exposing students to different technologies and arts.

“Because most of the jobs for the future are not in existence now, it’s a great way for kids to start learning about all the different types of technology,” said club Executive Director Donata Martin.

Justen Bristlin, signature programs specialist with Best Buy, said this is the 13th year the academy has been hosted.

Bristlin said the program gives students the tools necessary to succeed in the 21st Century.

Instructor Steve O’Day helps Amelia Carboni , 10, make some digital music at the academy. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

“One of our goals is to bridge the digital divide,” said Bristlin. “The idea is to get kids involved with technology and to be content creators instead of consumers.”

To get students started off on the right foot, the event offered coding projects, stop-motion tutorials, and activities that combined music and technology.

Students who participated in a Star Wars themed coding activity said they were excited to be learning the skill because they might use it in the future.

“We’re doing small coding puzzles right now and it’s really fun,” said Fitchburg resident Conor Elliot.

Jalen Leider, who was coding a project involving famous robot R2D2, said he was potentially interested in coding and computers, but added that he’d have to learn eventually.

“Coding gives kids a basic idea of how logic works,” said instructor Kieth Porazzo. “Coding is the foundation of everything we use from our cellphones to browsing the web.”

Another instructor, Elena Valdez, added that “children are going to be our future and that our future is going to be technology.”

Students also participated in an activity where they made their own stop-motion videos.

Working the camera is Alexiss Edmonds, 13. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

Stop-motion is a type of film making that requires painstakingly moving puppets, or in this case Lego pieces, and snapping hundreds of photos until it makes a cohesive, short movie.

Alexis Edmonds, 13, said they had to plan out a scene using Legos and repeatedly move them centimeters at a time while taking photos of every move.

The skit was about two characters that were fighting over their girlfriend, she said.

“It’s fun because you can be creative with our story and we tried different things with the Legos,” said Edmonds.

Bristlin also said it’s important for parents to get children learning about technology whenever possible, adding that he thinks students learn more with hands on activities.

Martin said Geek Squad staff members will be volunteering at the club over the next year to hopefully add to students’ learning.

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