Have any of you ever heard of the Nobel Prize before? (If yes, can you tell the rest of the class what it is?)
The Nobel Prize is an award given each year to people who have done really awesome things all around the world. There are several different categories of Nobel Prizes. There’s one for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology and Medicine (these are all sciences), Literature, Peace, and Economics.
Can you name anyone who has been awarded a Nobel Prize before? Here’s a hint- you probably talked about him in school last month. (That answer would be Martin Luther King Jr.; other popular Nobel Laureates include Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Marie Curie, and John Steinbeck.)
Does anyone know who the first woman to win a Nobel Prize is? (They may not.)
Her name was Marie Curie. She grew up in Poland (which is a country across the ocean). During Marie Curie’s childhood, Poland was still occupied by Russia in a time when the Russian Czar, the country’s leader, decided that women should not study at college. Both Marie and her sister really wanted to go to school, so they both eventually moved to France and worked very hard to pay for their degrees.
While Marie was in college, another French physicist named Henri Becquerel discovered that the element uranium emitted strong radiation. Do any of you know what radiation is? (Give them an opportunity to explain if they are familiar with the concept of radiation.)
Radiation is the release and spread of energy. For example, when you have a fire in your fireplace, the whole room gets warm because of the radiation of the heat. But some kinds of radiation are dangerous. Uranium is one of these powerful and dangerous types of radiation.
Marie Curie was fascinated by the energy emitted by uranium and with her husband, actually developed a way to measure how much energy was being released from this element and another radioactive element, thorium. (Ask them if they know what an element is to ensure that the vocabulary you are using is appropriate and not too dense.)
Marie’s curiosity led her to TEST and OBSERVE the energy emitted by all kind of objects. And this is what happened. (Play video clip from 26:49 - 27:23) She continued to experiment and ASK QUESTIONS and over the next three years, Marie Curie and her husband discovered two new radioactive elements, which they named Polonium and Radium. Marie Curie, her husband, and Henri Becquerel were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 for their studies on radioactivity. In 1911, Marie Curie was awarded another Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry.
During World War I, Marie Curie used her KNOWLEDGE to help equip ambulances with x-ray equipment, which she herself often drove to the front lines. The International Red Cross made her the head of its radiological service and she taught doctors and nurses how to use the x-ray equipment to in order to better examine soldiers’ broken bones. Here’s a clip of how she APPLIED her knowledge in real life. (Play video clip from 43:44 - 44:35.)
She and her husband were also pioneers when it came to using radiation to kill cancer cells. (Play video clip from 47:37 - 48:05.)
Marie Curie asked questions, found the answers to these questions, and used these answers to help solve real problems in the world. Over the next several weeks, we’re going to ask and answer our own questions as we learn more about NYS and its counties.
Other interesting clips:
The discovery of radium clip- ~32 minutes into video