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Today we're going to learn about the famous scientist, Marie Curie.
Marie Curie was physicist and a chemist, and is best known for her studies of radiation.
She was born Maria Sklodowska on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland.
Her parents were both well-educated: her father taught physics and mathematics, and her mother
ran a girls' school.
Marie had three older sisters and an older brother, but one of her sisters as well as
her mother died by the time she was ten years old.
Young Marie had a sharp and curious mind and did well in her studies, graduating at age
fifteen from a girls' school with a gold medal.
She wanted to attend university, but the university in Warsaw would not accept women.
Marie and her sister Bronislawa studied in secret at something called the Flying University,
an unofficial night school that would allow women to join.
This was not enough, however, and Marie and her sister formed a plan.
Bronislawa would go to France to study medicine at a university that accepted women as students.
Marie would stay in Poland and work to support her sister.
Once Bronislawa became a doctor, Marie would come to her in France and it would be Marie's
turn to study.
It was not until the end of 1891 when Marie was 24 that she was able to move to France
and begin her university education.
She had spent her years of waiting studying on her own and reading many books, and she
knew that she wanted to become a scientist.
Instead of living with her sister, whose home Marie thought was too far from the university,
Marie rented a small attic room nearby.
Marie immediately encountered difficulties.
Her years of unofficial study had not prepared her for university courses.
Worse, all of the courses were taught in French, which Marie spoke only imperfectly.
Determined to do well, Marie studied during the day and tutored at night to earn money,
but she barely had enough to live on.
She was too poor to buy much food, by some accounts surviving on buttered bread and tea
- and she was often so interested in her studies that she forgot to eat at all, sometimes fainting
from hunger.
Her attic room was often cold, but Marie kept warm by wearing all of her clothes at once.
Despite her hardships, Marie earned a masters degree in phyiscs by 1893, finishing as the
top student in the course.
She earned a second degree, this one in chemistry, in 1894.
She was only 27 years old.
While looking for laboratory space to work in, Marie met Pierre Curie.
Pierre was also a scientist and had a little space Marie could begin working in.
Through their scientific work, the two became close, and began to fall in love.
Pierre even proposed to Marie, but she refused at first because she wanted to return to Poland.
She traveled to Warsaw to visit her family, and tried to find work as a scientist, but
she was denied a place at the university there because she was a woman.
Pierre wrote to her and convinced her to return to Paris.
The two were married in 1895, and together had two daughters, Irene and Eve.
Marie decided to begin working towards her Ph.D, although at that time, no woman had
ever been awarded a doctorate in science.
For her topic of research, Marie decided to study uranium.
Recent discoveries had shown that x-rays could travel through skin and muscle.
Uranium could produce rays that could travel through metal!
Marie called materials that produced these rays 'radioactive.'
She tested every other material she could think of to see if anything else produced
these 'rays,' and found two materials that were even more radioactive than uranium.
She realized that there must be something new and undiscovered in them.
Pierre was so interested in Marie's work that he stopped his own research to help her.
Together, the two of them discovered two new radioactive elements: polonium, named after
Marie's home country of Poland, and radium.
In 1903 Marie earned her doctorate in physics, becoming the first woman in Europe to do so.
That same year Marie and Pierre Curie were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for the
advances their study of radiation made to understanding the structure of atoms.
After their award, Pierre became a professor at the University of Paris and the chair of
the physics department.
Unfortunately, he was killed in a traffic accident in 1906.
The university decided to offer his position to Marie, and she accepted - becoming the
first woman to be a professor there.
In 1911 Marie received her second Nobel Prize - this time in chemistry, for her discoveries
of radium and polonium.
By this time she was a very famous scientist.
She was finally offered a position in Warsaw, but she turned it down.
She wanted to build a research laboratory in Paris in Pierre's memory.
She continued her research until World War I, when she created mobile x-ray trucks to
help battlefield surgeons treat wounded soldiers.
It is estimated that over a million soldiers were treated with her x-ray units.
In the years following the war, Marie worked to raise money for her research institute,
but she became increasingly sick.
Long exposure to radioactive materials without any safety measures had damaged her body.
She died on July 4, 1934, from an illness caused by radiation.
Marie Curie made many scientific breakthroughs in her lifetime.
She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes,
and the only person in history to earn them in two different sciences.
Marie and Pierre had many things named after them: a unit radioactivity is measured with
is called the curie.
There are three radioactive minerals and an element named after them.
Marie's research laboratory, now called the Curie Institute, is one of the leading medical
research centers in the world.
Today Marie Curie is remembered as one of the most well-known scientists in history.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the famous scientist Marie Curie, and learning about
her important work.
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Biography of Marie Curie for Kids: Famous Scientists for Children - FreeSchool

36 Folder Collection
hexiecollege published on June 7, 2019
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