Denver teens work on online magazine at CU

Students will teach middle-schoolers how it's done

At just 17, Melina Santos was preparing Friday for her first gig as a teacher.

A senior at Denver's Thomas Jefferson High School, Melina was participating in the sixth annual DigitalCUrrents Summer Day Camp, in which Denver magnet-school students visit the University of Colorado and work on a technology-based project.

The teens were given five days to complete an electronic magazine before heading back to Denver next week to teach incoming freshmen at Jefferson and Denver North how to create and operate their own "e-zine."

By Friday, Melina and her team were wrapping up their project, a multimedia journal of the first five days of the three-week camp, and rehearsing what they planned to say to a group of 30 middle school students Monday morning.

They also told camp administrators some of their concerns about working with younger kids: "What do I do if I can't answer their

Melina, who compiled podcasts and blogs for the e-zine, spoke clearly and confidently as she delivered her practice lesson about camera use in front of eight other high school students.

"It wasn't that nerve-wracking because I've been with them all week, but I'm still not in the teaching mode yet," she said.

DigitalCUrrents is designed to give high school students a dose of college life through tours and guest lectures. Each day, students take a bus from Denver to CU, where they work with a CU instructor, listen to guest lecturers, experience campus classrooms and even college food.

After the first week, they return to Denver to teach middle school children about the project.

The future high school students will learn how to put together an e-zine, so they are well prepared to run "Epictivity," a new online magazine for the Denver magnet schools.

Coming to CU is a first for many of the students; and for some, it is even their first time leaving Denver, said Kevin Marlatt, director of the Denver Public Schools Computer Magnet Program. Most are college-bound like Melina, who wants to become a broadcast journalist.

"We're trying to help them see that a place like this could be a place where they could see themselves," he said.

Ninety-two percent of the DigitalCUrrents students graduate from high school, and of that number, 88 percent go immediately to a four-year college, he said. Aside from the emphasis on education, DigitalCUrrents is about older students leading younger ones.

"It's about teaching the next generation how to use the technology and showing them how they can apply it to their lives," said Julio Dominguez, 18.

He worked with Adobe Flash Player and Photoshop for the project. He said he's not worried yet about the teaching aspect of DigitalCUrrents.

"I'll just wait until the moment comes, and then I'll think about it," he said.