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Marie Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who contributed to the research on radioactivity and to the discovery of Radium and Polonium. She was the first woman to earn a Nobel Prize, and the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice.
See the fact file below for more information on the Marie Curie or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Marie Curie worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY
- Maria Salomea Sklodowska was born on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland, when it was under the control of the Russian Empire.
- Her parents, both teachers, had four other children. Marie was the youngest of the five.
- Her birth name was Maria, but her parents called her Manya.
- Władysław Skłodowski educated his daughters. He taught Marie mathematics and physics – two fields she wanted to pursue.
- When Marie was 10, her oldest sister died, and then two years later, her mother died. She also started attending a boarding school and a gymnasium for girls, from which she earned a gold medal.
- Marie was not able to enrol in a regular university in Warsaw because she was a woman; she and her sister, Bronislawa, fled to an underground Flying University (sometimes called Floating University), an institution which admits women students.
- She and Bronislawa made a pact – she would offer financial support to her sister’s medical studies in Paris, in exchange for similar assistance after two years.
- In 1890, Marie started her scientific training in a chemical laboratory at the Museum of Industry and Agriculture at Krakowskie Przedmieście 66, run by her cousin who had been an assistant to Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, Józef Boguski.
- In the latter part of 1891, she left Poland and fled to France. In Paris, Marie stayed with Bronislawa and her husband before renting a garret (habitable attic) near the University of Paris, while she pursued her studies in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. She was a working student – studied in the morning and tutored in the evening.
- In 1893, she earned her degree in physics and started working in the industrial laboratory of Professor Gabriel Lippmann. She completed her second degree in 1894 with the help of a fellowship.
- She started her scientific career in Paris, where she investigated the magnetic properties of different steels.
- That same year, Polish physicist Professor Jozef Wierusz-Kowalski introduced her to Pierre Curie.
- Pierre was teaching at The City of Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Education Institution. Their mutual interest and passion for science brought them closer.
- Pierre proposed but got rejected at first since Marie was planning to return to Poland. She received a letter from him, convincing her to go back to Paris to pursue her doctorate degree.
- On July 26, 1895, they got married in Seine, France. In Pierre, Marie found a lover, a partner, and a scientific collaborator on whom she could rely on.
- Two years later, their daughter Irene was born.
- Roentgen and Henri Becquerel, Marie decided that the importance of uranium (a chemical element) would be a good area to focus her research on. She began doing experiments in this field.
- With the help of her husband, Pierre and Marie spent lots of time investigating the properties of “pitchblende”, which is now referred to as uraninite, in their science labs.
- She discovered that radiation came from an atom, rather than the interaction between molecules.
- Pierre and Marie came up with the term “radioactivity”.
- Radioactivity described elements that emitted strong rays.
- In 1903, Marie and Pierre, along with Henri Becquerel, received the Nobel Prize in physics for their work in radiation. Marie became the first woman to win this prize.
- In 1904, she had another daughter named Eve. Her husband tragically died two years later in 1906 in a street accident.
- They both discovered and named two new elements on the periodic table, radium and polonium. Polonium was named for her birthplace of Poland. Radium is the Latin for “ray”.
- In 1911, Marie won another Nobel Prize, but this time in chemistry, for discovering these two elements. This meant she was the first woman to receive 2 Nobel Prizes. She became famous, and eventually doctors realized that they could use radiation to treat cancer.
- During WWI, Marie’s work on radiation allowed doctors to examine wounded soldiers using X-ray machines. Since there weren’t enough to go around, Marie suggested that they be moved around on a truck to examine soldiers on location. These portable X-rays became known as “little Curies”.
- In 1921, Marie founded the Curie Institute in Paris, which operates as a major cancer research facility to this day.
- In 1932, Marie opened an institute that focused on specialized cancer research and treatment. She called it the “Radium Institute”, but the name was later changed to the “Maria Skłodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology” after WWII.
- Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934 from overexposure to radiation. This was not only a result from her repeated exposure to radiation from her experiments, but also from her work with X-ray machines.
- In later years, her daughter Irene won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work with aluminum and radiation.
- Her other daughter Eve, wrote a biographical book about her mother’s life.
- To this day, special precautions are taken by scientists to prevent overexposure to radiation.
Marie Curie Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Marie Curie across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Marie Curie worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Marie Curie who was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who contributed to the research on radioactivity and to the discovery of Radium and Polonium. She was the first woman to earn a Nobel Prize, and the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Marie Curie Facts
- Marie Curie Who?
- Fact Checkpoint
- Thinking Questions
- Polonium Basics
- Matching Game
- Marie Curie Unscrambling
- A Scientific Invention
- Letter to Marie Curie
- Quote Analysis
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Use With Any Curriculum
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