Jerald Smith ’17

Class of 2017
Owner, NICE Cream and STEAM Education Co.

Jerald Smith’s love for science was sparked by a thrift store chemistry kit that gave him his first taste of mixing and creating scientific blends. That passion and childlike excitement for science stuck with Smith ’17 as he studied chemistry at UofL and inspired him to start his own businesses aimed at making science fun, interactive and accessible for everyone.

Smith launched two businesses – NICE Cream and STEAM Education Co. – to help spark a similar passion in others for science. With NICE Cream, Smith runs liquid nitrogen ice cream and cocktail parties across Louisville where kids can learn the science behind the sweet treat and adults can craft their own concoctions. STEAM Education Co. is an interactive traveling education program that gives K-12 students hands-on learning experiences and a chance to explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

Through his work, Smith is exposing people to different sciences in a fun way and has even spurred adults to change their career to the culinary arts, pick up a new hobby or embrace farming and build community gardens.

“This is how we can work together and use science and our community as a resource to better our world,” Smith said.

As a student at UofL, Smith was a Gates Millennium Scholar and involved in the American Chemical Society, Collegiate 100, the Pan African Studies Department, the Office of Minority Resources and the C.O.N.E.C.T. peer mentoring program in the College of Arts and Sciences among other student organizations. Smith credits the connections he made as a student at UofL with helping him narrow his path to becoming a scientist and educator.

“Right off the bat at orientation, the culture of the SOSers (Student Orientation Staff) sparked a desire for me to be a mentor and guiding light myself,” Smith said. “I loved the overall culture at UofL and having faculty and staff that cared about us and our vision of building something great. To this day, I have relationships with so many people I met at UofL who I still work with.”

Smith, who graduated with a degree in chemistry, is able to be that mentor for others through STEAM Education Co.

“STEAM gives students who don’t think they like science a chance to really learn about it by meeting them where they are,” Smith said. “We get to expose them to multiple careers using different types of activities, and the exposure to these things is the best way for them to learn. Giving students this platform gives them a chance to express themselves.”

While working a makerspace in a West End elementary school, Smith was able to share tools and hands-on experiments with students face-to-face.

“Instead of seeing someone else experience it on YouTube or TikTok, now they can experience it themselves,” Smith said. “Whether it’s designing their own 3D model car, doing work on a 3D printer or building structures, this gives them an expression of joy and life. That’s why I do what I do, to engage the kids.”

Smith says his STEAM programming represents many areas, which gives students a chance to realize they might have a passion in a related field they didn’t ever think about before.

“Some students might want to be more so on the artistic side and be artists who learn to create models, while some might be interested in being an engineer where they’re building things, or a mathematician where they’re doing stats and data analysis,” Smith said. “I get to expose them to careers using different types of activities. The exposure of these things is the only way that they’re going to learn and get them curious about their futures.”

Smith takes his STEAM Education Co. programs to schools across Jefferson County and has even expanded to out-of-state schools, with the hope of empowering students and adults to improve their communities.

“STEAM is an important resource and vessel that can be utilized for the development of communities and neighborhoods,” Smith said. “I want to help people discover things they enjoy and inspire them to use their knowledge to transform their neighborhoods and communities for the better.”