Arkansas Innovation Hub partners with Best Buy to launch first Teen Tech Center in state

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 688 views 

The Arkansas Innovation Hub in North Little Rock has partnered with Best Buy to launch the first Teen Tech Center in the state.

The Best Buy Teen Tech Center is an initiative to allow teens to develop critical skills through hands-on activities that explore their interests in technology, art, and entrepreneurial subjects.

Best Buy will provide programmatic support to enhance the Innovation Hub’s technology access and education outreach to teens, especially local, underserved populations. The Hub will provide space, equipment, facilities, staff, and management of the center at its North Little Rock location.

The goal is skill-building in technology and innovation to motivate and better prepare teens for career paths of the future.

The development of the center launched Tuesday (Feb. 23) with a combination of creative learning opportunities. Construction to remodel portions of the Innovation Hub’s 22,000 square foot facility will start later this year. The Teen Tech Center is expected to be fully operational in 2022 adding new studio spaces for audiovisual production and more.

“We share Best Buy’s goal of reaching out to disinvested communities, a goal that has been part of our organization DNA from the very start,” said Dr. Chris Jones, executive director of the Innovation Hub. “It’s an honor to be Arkansas’s first Teen Tech Center. This partnership with Best Buy and the MIT Media Lab will be transformative to teens and our communities.”

The support provided by Best Buy includes membership in The Clubhouse Network. A collaborative project with the MIT Media Lab, the network is an international community of clubhouses in 20 countries, providing youth with hands-on learning opportunities aimed at inspiring them to pursue higher education and explore potential careers in science and technology. Teens will be able to learn:

●   Music Production & Audio Editing
●   Fine Art
●   Graphic Design
●   Photography & Video Editing
●   Coding to Control Robotics & Make Mobile Applications
●   Animation & Design for Interactive Poetry, Stories & Games
●   3D-Object Design
●   Ceramics
●   Digital Fabrication

“We have facilities, studios, and cutting-edge equipment,” said Hannah May, Education Lead at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. “More importantly though, we are a core team of creative educators who are proficient in our own specialties—from ceramics and screen-printing to state-of-the-art technologies like 3D printing and digital fabrication. We encourage and motivate students to learn new skills and to use them toward practical businesses and career paths.”

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub is a nonprofit organization underwritten by Winrock International. Best Buy’s social impact initiative includes the Teen Tech Centers, which seek to provide teens from under-resourced communities with technology, training, and mentorship. By the end of 2025, the company aims to open at least 100 Best Buy Teen Tech Centers across the U.S. and Canada.