Outreach Program - Publishing & Creating a Magazine
Event date: May 19 2007
Posted by: Kristin Vincent

Team Webgrrls just wrapped up another successful event that helps get the next generation excited about technology! On May 19, six members of the Webgrrls community spent the day at Mercy Center, a community center in the Bronx, showing middle school and high school girls how to design their own magazines using computers. Thank you to the following volunteers who so generously gave of their time:

  • Amelie Walker
  • Clarisel Gonzalez
  • Deborah Drucker
  • Kristin Vincent
  • Nelly Yusupova
  • Sora Vernikoff

Each girl began by choosing a handful of article templates for her magazine. They could choose from templates that covered News, Travel, Dining, Science, and Fashion. Then they sat down to "write" the articles. Each article type was a Microsoft Word template with a story full of blanks for the girls to fill in. For example, the Science template opened: "Late last year, researchers from

The girls had creative freedom to fill in the blanks with whatever came to mind. Even though the stories were based on the same five templates, the resulting articles were colorful and diverse. The creative bunch drafted Science articles about sea life such as sea turtles, two-headed sharks, and giant squid. For the Travel article, they wrote about cities all over the world, from Paris to Tokyo. The Dining articles covered the entire gamut of cuisines and restaurant decor. Each girl proudly added her name to the story's byline.

Next the girls found photos online to insert into the articles. We showed them how to search for photos on flickr.com that were covered by a Creative Commons license. We discussed copyright issues and legal online use of content, and the girls attributed each of the photos they used in their magazines to the rightful photographer. To finish, each girl concocted a name for her magazine and created a cover page with a full-sized cover shot.

For some of the girls, this was one of their first times using Microsoft Word, so we were happy to see them become more familiar with such a widely used tool. The girls learned about layout features, such as two-column layouts for copy. They quickly caught on how to save photos into a directory on their local machine and then insert them into the article templates. As they played around more with the software program, several discovered how to change the font color and how to right-click on misspelled words to get correctly spelled suggestions.

Rachel Soltis, a staff member at Mercy Center who works with the girls in after school programs, said that the girls really enjoyed themselves. "Ybette and Alondra definitely had a good time!" Rachel said. "In fact, Ybette was using some of her magazine mania skills during computer free time at Friday's after-school, meaning that she was on Microsoft word instead of the internet! …To me, that's evidence of a major impact!"

I wanted to extend a big thank you to each of our volunteers! Because you gave up your Saturday afternoon, these girls have not only had fun, but they learned the valuable skills of using Word and photo repositories like flickr. This event was a success because of you!

Team Webgrrls will be taking a break for the summer while the girls are out of school, but look for events to start up again in a few months as we head back into the school year. If you are interested in joining us in the future to help get younger women interested in careers in technology and the internet, please contact me, Kristin Vincent, at [email protected] so I can keep you informed about future opportunities to get involved.

Kristin Vincent
Outreach Program Coordinator [email protected]