ST. CLOUD (WJON News) - A new high-tech playground has opened in St. Cloud.

The Best Buy Teen Tech Center has opened inside the Southside Boys and Girls Club. The state–of–the–art center will celebrate a grand opening sometime in 2024 but is already hosting club members aged 13 to 18.

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Shaelynn Waseka is the Best Buy Teen Center coordinator and manager. She says the center lets students experiment with different technologies in the hopes they become inspired and pursue their careers.

We try and offer as much as possible for them. They like to call it a “kindergarten model” - where they come in and explore by themselves. We mentor them and help them find more things to do. They don't know what they're doing until after the fact when we get them more interested in what's going on.

Teens in the community are welcome to explore new technologies at no cost.

Amenities include:

  • Recording studio
  • 15+ Computers equipped with top production applications
  • DJ station
  • Robotics and coding
  • Digital arts station
  • 3D printing station
  • Embroidery station
  • T-shirt and heat press station
  • Digital cutting machine
  • Photography and videography station
  • VR headsets
  • Button making station

The 1,300-square-foot center is a program of the Best Buy Foundation designed to support community teens with access to cutting-edge technologies, mentorship, and college and career readiness. The Best Buy Foundation supplied financial support for the center’s remodeling and equipment, and it joins a network of Best Buy Teen Tech centers nationwide.

The Southside Boys and Girls Club is located at 1205 6th Avenue South in St. Cloud.

Take a sneak peek at the Best Buy Tech Center inside the Southside Boys and Girls Club in St. Cloud:

Among the new additions to the center include a recording studio where club members can lay down their original music. In the future, the center hopes to add a podcast recording studio and DJ mixer for club members to experiment with.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News.
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News.
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For those interested in fashion and design, the center includes areas for vinyl cutting and embroidery.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News
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On loan from M.I.T., "G-Bo" (left) is a robot that can interact with users and play games. The pilot program from M.I.T. will use the data collected to improve the design and abilities of robots to help students learn and foster an interest in robotics. In the future, the center hopes to start an E-Sports league for members who enjoy gaming and a robotics team for future competitions.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News
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A 3-D printer and design programs are available for club members to experiment with 3-D modeling and printing.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News
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Fresh off the 3-D printer, a small model cools. The figure was designed by club members on a computer and then set to the printer to be built. Once cool, the figure will be cut away from the extra building supports.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON News
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