Tracey Cassidy (MSc Medical Microbiology, 2003) has been invited to speak at the United Nations (UN) to celebrate International Women and Girls in Science Day. She is the Founder and CEO of Junior Einsteins Science Club Ltd, which gets young children excited about science. We asked her about her time at LSHTM and achievements since leaving…
Why did you decide to study at LSHTM?
I completed my MA in Natural Science at Trinity College Dublin and wanted to direct my career towards the medical sciences. I then went on to study at Warwick Medical School, starting the four-year fast track in Medicine. However, due to difficult life circumstances I did not complete the four years. The MSc in Medical Microbiology at LSHTM was therefore a perfect way to advance my medical knowledge. The knowledge and expertise I received is so valuable to me now, when bringing hands-on STEM to primary school children through my company, Junior Einsteins Science Club® Ltd. I made firm friendships with my fellow students from across the globe, we still try to meet when we can. Some of my colleagues have even found franchisees for Junior Einsteins Science Club®, helping me to reach as many children as possible!
What have you achieved since leaving LSHTM?
I am a single mum of three young children and my passion is to reach as many children worldwide as possible with our STEM educational services through finding hard-working, enthusiastic franchisees. I believe that you don’t have to be the smartest kid in school to do science. I started by doing experiments and got people on board to bring science to life at after-school parties, birthday parties, science camps, school science shows & workshops. It’s a wonderful thing when you love what you do, and I married science with children. Junior Einsteins encourages children to get into STEM subjects through hands-on interactive experiments and amazing science events. It is about teaching children how to make mistakes, how to cope in an ever-changing world and how to think, not what to think.
A typical class will start with lessons in slime – what kid doesn’t love slime? But really, what I am teaching them is long-chain polymerisation. They then learn that this goes into how soldiers protect themselves on battlefields, through the material that goes into armour. Slime, giant smoke cannons, Van de Graaf generators and the famous elephant toothpaste experiment – it is all about fostering a love of science and a love of learning. There’s nothing greater than seeing a kid walking tall and saying, ‘I’m a Junior Einstein’.
Junior Einsteins Science Club has collaborated with part of the United Nations RAISIT (The Royal Academy of Science International Trust). We will be featured on the UN website and also create many online live workshops, as well as webinars to reach as many children as possible globally, especially those who do not have access to quality STEM education. The most exciting achievement to date is that I have been personally invited to speak by Executive Director, HRH Dr Princess Nisreen El-Hashemite at the International Women and Girls in Science Day at the UN in New York City on February 11 2020.
We were also the winners of the International VOOM 2018 Richard Branson Virgin Media Business Award. Richard Branson said that Junior Einsteins was ‘brilliant’ and ‘I want my grandchildren doing this!’. The company has won ‘Best Emerging Franchise’ and was nominated for ‘Children’s Franchise of the Year’ at the Franchise Awards Ireland 2019. We are also proud to be awarded Business All Stars Ireland 2019, which is the national body responsible for accrediting best-in-class Irish businesses, convening the All-Ireland Business Summit and Awards.
Additionally, I do quite a bit of science communication and keynote speeches at universities, technical institutions, schools, events and business organisations, when time allows. I am proud to have been shortlisted for the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 & 2019.
What advice do you have for current students?
Enjoy your days at LSHTM. The people you meet and the knowledge you gain will stand you in good stead in your career and in life. The hard work will be worth it and the skills you gain will improve life for people you meet and work with.
Junior Ensteins – www.junioreinsteinsscienceclub.com