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Rebecca Moretti (left) and Alison Seward (right).

Rebecca Moretti and Alison Seward are on a mission to make the world a better place. Only, the way they want to spark change is a bit different from most – they see careers in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering and math) as a path to global change. They set out this summer to pass on their ideas to middle schoolers.

“When choosing a career, a lot of girls will say they want to be teachers and nurses, because they’re helping people,” says Moretti. “Engineers are helping people too, only on a global level.”

As passionate STEM students, Moretti and Seward, both 18, petitioned administrators at DeMasi Middle School in Evesham and were granted permission to teach in its eight-week summer enrichment program.

“We really just wanted to get kids more involved in the sciences and show them why STEM is important, why those careers are cool and what they really do,” Moretti says. “It’s something we both enjoy, and we wanted to spread the information to kids.”

The pair taught a class every Saturday for eight weeks, building their own curriculum that showed the fun side of STEM subjects. Each class began with a team-building exercise to show the importance of collaboration in STEM careers.

Moretti says the biggest part of designing the curriculum was creating the experiments. She and Seward came up with some of the experiments on their own and found the rest online, then modified them for the age group and goals of the program. For example, to teach algorithms as part of the math curriculum, they instructed students to design an algorithm for building a paper plane, then test the planes and make improvements accordingly.

Another exercise required the students to build a cable car that could travel on fishing line between two tables. They could only use everyday materials, like paper clips and rubber bands, to build the car. They each had a few test runs and, by the last test run, the majority of the class was successful.

Moretti says it was great to see how much the students improved with each experiment.

“The kids would come up with these amazing, out-of-the-box ideas,” Seward says. “They’d just be so excited that they built it. Parents would come back every week and tell us how excited they were because they built it themselves, and that they have it in their room. It was really cool to see them get so excited.”

Currently, Moretti studies mechanical engineering at Villanova University and plans to pursue a career working with electronic cars. Seward is studying nursing at The College of New Jersey and plans to attend graduate school to become a nurse practitioner and eventually an OB-GYN.

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