Pivoting during a pandemic: Kim Magloire '84 and SciTech Kids

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021
by Jenny Wang '22

Kim Magloire, Princeton University Class of 1984 and founder of SciTech Kids, shares her story as a leading entrepreneur in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) movement. She also reflects on SciTech Kids’ pivot from a hands-on science lab to an online educational program amid the pandemic.

SciTech Kids champions an exploratory approach when teaching the youth about science, guiding students to become "makers, designers, and experimenters". Kim Magloire’s mission for SciTech Kids is to capture the students’ imagination through STEAM. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, SciTech Kids operated out of a brick-and-mortar science laboratory, exclusively offering classes to students in the New York metropolitan area. However, once the city began mandating business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, public school systems across the United States transitioned online. For the first time, Magloire had to adapt SciTech Kids’ in-person classroom structure to a remote learning model. 

"During COVID, my academic, scientific, and epidemiological worlds collided. We had to completely revamp our curriculum to support remote learning while keeping the kids engaged. For example, we designed experiments that were accessible to all families, making use of household items like toothpaste and cardboard."

The silver lining of the pandemic was a renewed opportunity to reach a wider audience of students with the remote model. Magloire developed masterclasses for biology, chemistry, and physics, among other subjects, that effectively distilled one semester of high school science into a one-week bootcamp. Students spanning across different age groups and geographies participated in this online program.

Although these newfound opportunities have proven fruitful for SciTech Kids, they have failed to generate the same level of revenue compared to that of normal times due to a decrease in the sheer volume of students. As a result, Magloire turned to alternate streams of funding: "Even during the shutdown, I still went to the office every day to write grants. I submitted a minimum of a dozen, most of which were for small, female-owned, or black-owned businesses". One such funding opportunity served as a light at the end of the tunnel for Magloire and her business. Featured on Good Morning America, Magloire was one of two finalists selected out of 6,000 applicants for the Visa and IFundWomen Black women-owned business grant program, which awarded her $20,000 for business and marketing expenses as well as mentorship opportunities. 

"The real innovation happens when you have enough diversity and backgrounds sitting at the table. Even the seven-year-olds at SciTech have something to contribute to the conversation."

As a proud Princeton alum, Magloire appreciates the support she has received from her colleagues and the robust alumni network. During her time on campus, Magloire was able to intersect her passions for education and epidemiology, writing her thesis on academic stress, social support, and immunoglobulin A, which she later published with her advisor post-graduation. Now an active member of the Princeton entrepreneurship community, Magloire also presented in the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council’s Thrive Conference 2019 Startup Showcase and the Engage 2020 Startup Showcase. The University continues to function as an invaluable resource for Magloire: "Princeton has been wonderful for providing services and mentorship — they can be our biggest cheerleaders."

Beyond her strong support system at Princeton, Magloire reflects on the key players and challenges that have shaped her experience as a female founder of color: "Coming from a family of strong females, I was never told that I couldn’t do something. However, as a female, I find that we often undersell ourselves. We make excuses about what we don’t have instead of profiling what we do and actively seeking out more funding opportunities, partnerships, and business advice."

Magloire at bottom of steps in front of the SciTech Kids location

Magloire in front of the SciTech Kids location. Photo via Kim Magloire.

A cornerstone of SciTech Kids’ mission is a commitment to diverse representation within the business and broader STEAM movement. Extending beyond diversity in race, gender, and sexuality, Magloire aims to promote diversity in thinking. She underscores the need for scientists, particularly those on the frontlines of coronavirus research, to hear inspiring ideas posed by different segments of the population.

"The real innovation happens when you have enough diversity and backgrounds sitting at the table. Even the seven-year-olds at SciTech have something to contribute to the conversation."

Exciting developments lie ahead for Magloire and her many ventures. In the science education space, Magloire is rolling out a mobile application called To the Point, which utilizes visual metaphors to help kids establish associations between everyday life and science. On the epidemiological front, Magloire continues to serve on the board of Clyra Medical Technologies. At the core of the company’s product offerings is Clyraguard, the only medical-grade, non-toxic product that deactivates coronavirus particles on surfaces for prolonged periods of time. As for SciTech Kids, Magloire must reimagine the in-person dimension of the business. The SciTech Kids storefront has always served as a place of solace for her students, so she hopes to explore pop-up activities as a way to maintain one-on-one contact between teachers and students.

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