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Scientists Biographies for 5th and 6th Graders? 162

Posted by Cliff
from the famous-geeks-both-dead-and-alive dept.
kimery asks: "My wife has just been named librarian for a 5th and 6th grade school. As part of the science program, students are required to read several science biographies over the course of the school year. The current biography collection consists mainly of dead (but oh so famous!) scientists. She'd like to expand the collection of science biographies, and would like to have your suggestions as to which scientists should be included. Bonus points for suggesting someone outside the 'usual suspects.' So, what scientists do you think would be interesting for a typical 5th/6th grade student?"
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Scientists Biographies for 5th and 6th Graders?

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  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:02PM (#15924154) Journal
    Putting into a kid's mind that you could make a lifetime of selectively breeding plants for size and tastiness is a good thing.
    • I think it is "Gregor" ...
    • by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@booksunderreview . c om> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:20AM (#15924750) Homepage Journal
      I know some of these are probably among the usual suspects, but maybe she won't have already thought of them as "scientists", since there seem to be a lot of more recent "hard" scientists in the ones people are listing.

      Benjamin Franklin, one of our early US true scientists who has tons of fun stories about his life.

      Thomas Jefferson, who seems to have invented some sort of improvement to just about everything he came into contact with, from windows to agriculture.

      Ludwig Von Mises and Friedrich Hayek for their contributions to economics and social philosophy. Von Mises scientifically/mathmatically predicted that the roaring 20's would end in a crash and depression and also the final reasons for the economic demise of the Socialist/Communist model long before his theories became popular after the fact.

      Tesla is always fun, if only for all the fun/weird stuff.

      If they don't already have them (they likely do most of them), then Adam Smith, Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, James Maxwell, Robert Boyle, Robert Hook, Bernoulli, Gottfried Leibniz.
      • Personally, I think Tesla should be included because our schools currently give the wrong idea about Edison.
  • Kurt Godel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by andrewman327 (635952) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:03PM (#15924161) Homepage Journal
    I attend a large private university in America and I only learned about Kurt Godel through a biography project last year. I have written many bios in my time and Godel is an incredible person. Even Einstein was good friends with him. Godel contributed so many great ideas to the world and is so poorly recognized.
  • by FleaPlus (6935) * on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:08PM (#15924183) Journal
    Here's some biographies of the less conventional scientists:

    Ada Byron Lovelace: The Lady and the Computer []
    Nikola Tesla: A Spark of Genius []
    Turing and the Computer: The Big Idea []
    • Although Lovelace is a good example of a scientist (and one of the few famous historical females), there's the slight problem of name similarity that might be a problem in assignments for 10-12 year olds.

      A true story -- I used to work at a university where all of the servers had various 'theme' names. One generation of the mail system was all named after scientists: (Einstein, Boltzman, Planck, Fermi, Faraday, Fourier, Laplace, Joule, Feynman, Hawking (which was mis-named 'Hawkins'), Fuchs, Newton, Curie,
      • by Gilmoure (18428)
        How would anyone confuse Ada Lovelace with a porn star? Unless they are familiar with porn stars. Hmmm...

        Back in the early 80's, I started out naming my personal computers after characters in Hamlet. I'm now up to "First Sailor". Sigh. Who knew we'd ever have so many computers or that you'd keep getting new ones instead of upgrading them. Oh well, at least I haven't run out of Beowulf names for my cars.
    • Ada Lovelace
      Marie Curie
      Irene Joliot-Curie
      Maria Mayer
      Lise Meitner
      Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin
      Linda B. Buck
      Christiane Nusslein-Volhard
      Sophie Germain
      Rosalyn Yalow
      Gerty Radnitz Cori
      Emmy Noether
      Roger Arliner Young
      Mary Anning
      and of course Danica McKellar
  • Murray Gell-Mann because he named his quark theory The Eightfold Way, which automatically makes him kick ass.

    If you don't know why Isaac Asimov kicks ass, you should be ashamed.
  • For no other good reason than to be the a member of the team that first "debugged" a computer by removal of the moth.

    So says Grace Hopper Wikipedia entry [].

    That was all I could remember until I read the Wikipedia entry. More good stuff is there.
  • by DeanPentcheff (103656) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:17PM (#15924231)
    Richard Feynman
    Charles Darwin
    Ed Ricketts

    Feynman because he is the exemplar of a truly clever person.

    Charles Darwin because he had such an astonishingly insightful way of slowly accumulating information until he could see the "big picture".

    Ed Ricketts because he had such an intensely committed life in biology that he is a wonderful example of how doing science can be an intensely fun life -- quite the opposite of the cold passionlessness one usually sees portrayed in science biographies
    • Richard Feynman

      Surely you're joking. Mr. Feynman??

      (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.)
    • by Sique (173459)
      I would recommend also a biography about Alexander von Humboldt, the famous traveller, discoverer and researcher in biology, geography and ethnography.
    • by Gilmoure (18428)
      Ed Ricketts

      As the guy who invented the beer milkshake, I take my hat off to him. Now if only the Navy had paid attention to him and his buddy, when they said they had access to Japanese navel charts, we might not have lost so many men when their landing craft grounded a 1/2 mile off the beaches...
  • My suggestions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:18PM (#15924236)
    Évariste Galois [] is the immediate, obvious choice.

    Of course Albert Einstein would probably be in the library, but it's worth making sure there's a good biography that explains his struggles as a child, his annus mirabilis, how his Nobel was for the photoelectric effect, what E=mc^2 and relativity really are, how he was invited to be PM of Israel, etc.

    I suppose it's entirely appropriate for 5th and 6th graders to know there was indeed a real Nicholas Flamel [].

    Another fascinating biography is that of Thomas Midgley [], the poor soul who came up with three ideas that seemed brilliant at the time: leaded fuels, CFCs, and a system of ropes and pulleys in his bed that strangled him.

    And what middle-schooler would not appreciate the toilet humor in the life of Tycho Brahe [], so concerned for court etiquette that he let his bladder clog and kill him?
    • Saw a show on PBS or History Channel or somesuch about him. It was about e=mc^2, and while it included a bit about the giants whose shoulders he stood on, it also included quite a bit about "A young Einstein. A rebellious, even a sexy Einstein."

      That should be popular, especially some of the quotes:

      "Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."

      Or, in a private school like the one I went to:

      "Even on the most solemn occasions I got away without wearing socks and hid that
    • There are some biographies in simple English on wikipedia, if the main encyclopedia's articles are too far above the students' reading levels. (An example of a short one (there's probably better ones for more famous people): Nikola Tesla [].)
      list of famous experiments [] should give some names to investigate...
    • by dubl-u (51156) *
      If you could work with teachers a little, I'd include some material on Enrico Fermi []. It's a good tie-in with WW II (and a reminder of both Italy's involvement and the responsibility of individuals to make sure their work doesn't hurt the world). His work building the first nuclear reactor [] is interesting. And your math and science teachers might get a lot of mileage out of Fermi problems [] which combine general knowledge, reasonable estimation, and basic math to come up with answer to interesting questions. If
      • by Anthony (4077) *

        My physics SA PEB matriculation exam (1976) had, on reflection, a Fermi Problem. In fact all the past papers I did had one in them. The question I answered was a bit like "Estimate the total energy expended by waves on a beach". It was fun making a list of assumptions and coming up with an answer, including a method of measuring it.

        As an aside, I surprised my teachers by matriculating that year. My mid-year tests were peppered with 'F's reflecting a lack of effort.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:25PM (#15924269) Homepage Journal
    Alan Turing. Lesson: if you're gay, your government will use you to win the biggest war in history, then hound you to suicide.

    John Nash: Lesson: really, really, really crazy people win Nobel prizes.

    Evariste Galois. Lesson: live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse.
    • Don't forget good old Teddy Kaczynski!
      Lesson: um... type your letters instead of writing?
    • by Manchot (847225)
      John Bardeen. Lesson: Even if you win two Nobel prizes and create the most important device of the 20th century, people still won't know who you are.
  • Show scientists that did otehr things as well:

    Heddy Lamar (sp?)

    I like the Asimov suggestion.

    Da Vinci

    Bacon (not Kevin)


  • My personal favorites (although I have no suggestions wether material exists about them which is acceptable for 5th/6th grade levels):

    Richard Feynman (A definite must-have!!!!)
    Paul Erdos
    Alan Turing
    Dmitri Mendeleev
    Claude Shannon
    John von Neumann
    The Bernoulli family...

  • Emmy Noether [] A mathematician that made great contributions to theoretical physics.
    Euler is somebody that no one seems to learn much about, along with Gauss. Lots of 17th and 18th century scientists are relatively unknown apart from the theorems learned in secondary school, Hooke and Boyle come to mind. People like Huygens are also relatively unknown. Even someone like Newton, whose name is so well known, is not very well known outside of his scientific work, which only took up a small part of his life (o
    • by gardyloo (512791)
      I would agree with the Noether suggestion, except I've no idea how to explain what she did to 5th and 6th graders. Lie algebras? Rings? Action principles in physics, and symmetries? By 5th or 6th grade, they'll have learned about conservation of energy. However, relating that (or some of the other conservation laws) to a symmetry in the action principle is a bit rough.

      The fact that Noether was a woman in a somewhat rough time for woman scientists is easy to teach. And the accomplishments of a
  • I assume that these biographies are already supposed to be available - and many of the suggested people do not have biographies appropriate for fifth or sixth graders... That being said, I would suggest a biography, there are a few but the level is not right, of Rosalind Franklin. Depending on the person telling the story she should/should not have received a lot of credit for the DNA model proposed by Watson and Crick. Jim Watson's autobiographical work on the work leading to a structural model for DNA
  • It really shows how far you can go in life on pure unmitigated genius ;-)

    Also, turing, babbage, ada lovelace, and aristotle are some interesting ones that you might not already have.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I second the vote for Nikola Tesla. Godel, Hopper and others are great, but someone like Tesla -- a brilliant scientist with a notable weirdness/insanity to him -- would be much more fascinating to kids. At least when I was younger science was much more interesting if it could be classified as "mad science."
  • Gene Shoemaker []

    Best known as one of the discoverers of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that hit Jupiter in 1994, but he did an incredible amount of other stuff as well. He was the first person to prove that craters on Earth and the Moon were caused by asteroid impacts, and he practically invented the field of Astrogeology. This all lead to him being heavily involved in developing scientific experiments for the Apollo missions, and training the astronauts to perform them - most likely he would've been sent to th
  • It's a little heavy on the mathematician side, but all of these are heavy hitters who had interesting lives and careers. I've read biographies on most of them.

    Kurt Godel
    Gregor Mendel
    Paul Erdos
    Stanislaw Ulam
    Alan Turing
    John von Neumann
    George Dantzig
    Evariste Galois
  • by eln (21727)
    Clearly, the misunderstood genius of our time.
  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:09PM (#15924483) Journal
    Oliver Sacks isn't dead, but he is a scentist. Not the kind of scientist you automatically think of when you hear the word, but he's a clinical neurologist. And this book is entertaining, while sneaking in a lot of facts about science and history that kids will think are cool.

    So, even if it's not strictly a biography, you should consider buying it, anyway. Here, read the review on /. []
  • Did everything from cosmology to genetics. He was even sentenced to death, but never executed, by the USSR for defection.

    For example: he predicted the strength of the cosmic microwave background about 20 years before it was actually observed and explained alpha decay of radioactive isotopes through quantum tunneling.
  • by Dolohov (114209) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:13PM (#15924499)
    I haven't seen these folks mentioned:
    Tycho Brahe (Silver noses and burst bladders)
    Charles Steinmetz (dwarfism, socialism, and alternating current! Oh, my!)
    Benjamin Franklin (A little inventing, a little politics, and a lot of great one-liners)
    Archimedes (just plain awesome)
  • by NineNine (235196) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:17PM (#15924518)
    It's an oldie, but a goodie. He proved to me that applies pure science can be an amazing thing. Got me interested in plant genetics, actually. His work created industries and jobs that didn't exist before he did his work.
  • He discovered or helped discover 10 transuranium elements, won the Nobel Prize, chaired the Atomic Energy Commission (helping get the Limited Test Ban Treaty and Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty signed), and even transmuted lead into gold. A great combination of top-notch chemistry and good citizenship.
    • by crgrace (220738)
      He was also a very nice man. I knew him ten years ago when I worked at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The first time I met him was when he ran into me (literally) in the cafeteria and he said "excuse me son". This is amazing for a up-and-coming PhD student. Wow.
  • by chris_eineke (634570) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:23PM (#15924551) Homepage Journal
    Richard P. Feynman []. Read Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman [] and you'll understand. :))
  • Good list at nce/Scients.htm []

    my nominees:

    Madame Curie, Galielo, Copernicus, Tycho Brahae, Messier, John Wesley Powell, Roy Chapman Andrews, Hubbell, Michaelson & Morley, Lavoiser, Mendeleev, Werner Von Braun, Goddard, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington Carver, Admiral Hyman Rickover, Charles Darwin, Freud, Watt, Archimedes, Da Vinci, Amundsen, Peary, Lewis & Clark, Frank Lloyd Wright, Wilbur & Orville, Rudolph Diesel, Thomas Edison, Marconi


  • by Brett Johnson (649584) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:24PM (#15924554)
    Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology []

    When I was a kid I remember reading this. Last updated in the 1980's [although Asimov's daughter is working on an update], so no new names from the last 25 years. Biographies for over a thousand scientists from ancient egypt to 1982 [with hyperlinks].

    IIRC, the reading level was more geared toward grades 8-10, so it might be a stretch for grades 4-6. [But then again, my high school science teacher had us reading Scientific American articles as an intentional stretch - in the 1970's when Scientific American was still hard science.]
    • This is a wonderful book. I have the 1970-something second edition. Pocket mini-bios of just about everyone loosely describable as having anything to do with science, from the dawn of history until the book was written. Fascinating stuff. (Like, why Giordano Bruno was really burned at the stake. Had next to nothing to do with that Earth going around the sun stuff.)

      I don't think any bright 5th-grader would have any trouble reading it. I haven't seen the 1980 version.
  • Well, nobody mentioned Levy yet ( e r) [] ) but this guy's career really does illustrate what it means to do scientific investigation, globally if needed, and to stick to it, not give up if you don't get famous in 3 years. This guy found evidence of huge meteor craters on Earth that nobody else had found, proved that asteroids are a danger to humankind and not just a video game, and it took huge balls to stick it out and prove it. He was exemplary in his efforts
    • by zappepcs (820751)
      update: Then the Egyptian Eratosthenes, director of the Library in Alexandria, wedded observation to calculation. His idea was as simple as it was brilliant. When the sun was directly above Aswan, 500 miles away, he measured the shadow cast by a vertical tower in Alexandria. The rest was simple trigonometry. He calculated earth's diameter with only 16 percent error, and his method was used right down to modern times.
  • My two cents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by svunt (916464) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:38PM (#15924600) Homepage Journal
    Richard Feynmann, not only for being one of the most awesome scientists ever, but for his passion and sense of fun, he makes physics look a lot less like a subject for "eggheads". John von Neumann, because he was a godlike intellect and far more important to the 20th century than your man in the street realises. Freeman Dyson, because his imagination would appeal to youngsters - stuff like genetically engineering diamond-toothed turtles to eat all the garbage off the US Highway system. Really, you could blindfold youself and throw a dart into a room full of the most important scientists of the 20th & 21st centuries, and chances are you'd hit someone that no-one without a science background's ever heard of. I do not condone the throwing of darts and important scientists.
  • Not strictly what the poster is asking for, as it's not a single, long biography, but I can't recommend highly enough Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology []. It's a thick, massively cross referenced volume with mini biographies of over 1500 scientists arranged chonologically from Imhotep to Stephen Hawking. Lengths range from a short paragraph to several pages (Galileo gets 4+ pages, for example).

    As a teen, this book was a constant pleasure. I'd look up a single scientist and find

  • The father of radio, but he also was involved in very strange research on earth energy. He appears to have invented a telephone that was able to transmit through the ground. He had been dead for about a week in the middle of winter when the neighbors asked the sheriff to break down the door. The odd thing was his home was still warm even though it had been snowing for weeks. The sheriff traced the heat source to 2 round copper plates spaced a couple of inches apart and leading to 2 wires which were atta
  • Two personal heroes of mine:

    Ernest Rutherford [] - A great scientist with several ground breaking discoveries, a national hero, and the mentor to numerous other Nobel Prize winners, such as Bohr, Geiger and Chadwick. Admired by Einstein.

    Rosalind Franklin [] A heartbreaking and inspiring story about a scientist that eschewed fame (and was cheated of it) but was instead dedicated to science for science sake and not the politics.
  • Not one of the grandest but has certainly left his mark w.r.t. communication. Decent sci-fi prophet as well [sentiment classification: subjective; +4.67].

    Advantage of being one who is alive.
  • Even though he is not that famous but he is still a physicist that could be studied.
    He was one of the fore runners in computational physics too.
  • Oppenheimer led a really fascinating life, and a recent biography of him (American Prometheus) won the Pulitzer.
  • Of course, you can find Edmund Halley biographies in many places, but he's not really a common figure since the comet receded in the '80s. He's got a lot more to him than just that one comet discovery too. My favorite factoid is his estimate of Earth's age by the salt levels in the oceans. Being Newton's publisher and friend didn't hurt his reputation either.

    Of course, I might be biased in this suggestion...

  • Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists [] is a collection of comics about famous (and unfortunately not so famous) women scientists including: Marie Skladovska, Hedy Lamarr, Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, and Birute Galdikas. While the profiles in this book may not be deep enough to be a final resource for student projects, they can definitely ignite some interest in further study.
  • Hedy Lamarr []

    Maybe not quite a scientist, but at least the inventor of the incredibly important concept of "spread spectrum" communications.
    And she was a hot chick. We need more hot chicks with brains.

  • Glen Seaborg, who at one time had the longest entry in Who's Who, was an accomplished scientist AND engineering manager. His team at Lawrence Berkeley Labs 'discovered' (created, really) elements 96 to 102. Born April 18th, 1912 in Ishpeming, Michigan, died several years ago in 1999. He was the head of the Atomic Energy Commission under Kennedy and helped negotiate the (mostly Atmospheric) Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1960 (?).

    He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1951 for their discoveries about transura
  • I can't believe no one has mentioned the Tycho Brahe [], Kepler [], Newton [] story arc yet!
  • by axiem (119959)
    Some have already been stated.

    Ada Lovelace
    Grace Hopper
    Marie Curie
    Pierre Curie
    George Washington Carver
    Benjamin Banneker
    Daniel Hale Williams
    Elizabeth Blackwell
    Rebecca Cole
    Richard Feynman
    Isaac Asimov
    Leonardo DiVinci
    Garrett Augustus Morgan
    Norbert Rillieux
    Thomas Edison
    Ming Antu

    One idea: encourage people to find scientists they can "identify" with. Show diversity, and that *everyone* can indeed be a scientist. My list is somewhat more geared at minorities, because most of the big names are well-known.

    But thumbs u
  • Leonardo da Vinci
    Max Plank


    better yet teach them what science is: asking questions and getting more questions. like who is Daystorm? Well he is a fictional but very important part of an imaginary universe. What is an imaginary universe? It is a place where there are vulcans. What are vulcans? Vulcans are people with pointy ears and green blood. Why is their blood green? becuase instead of iron which makes our blood red, they have copper. (Somewhere alon
  • A few of the biggies that get omitted...

    Carl Gauss - I'm seriosuly trying hard to think of the last day I did not assume something was Gaussian...
    Niels Bohr
    Henrietta Swan Leavitt - add in a nice article on how the Cepheid calibration is absolutely vital to cosmology
    Emmy Noether
    Enrico Fermi
    Grace Hopper
    Glenn Seaborg - 10 elements - I think thats still a record and he worked on multiple Nuclear test ban treaties.

    A couple of fun ones might be -
    Margaret Thatcher - no I kid you not she helped make soft serve ice
  • I would love to suggest Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Unfortunately, it's probably a bit heavy for elementary school students.

    Great book, though. It'd be nice to see some computer scientists represented in science curriculums along with the usual physicists, chemists and biologists.
  • No Robert Goddard yet? Rockets! And he got his start right around the same age as the kids. You could throw in Wernher von Braun for a counterpoint as well.
  • Nikola Tesla.
  • []
    Michio Kaku is a great scientist who has learned to communicate science fluently and interestingly to the layman. I'm sure he and his work would be very interesting to young people.
  • How about Hans Christian Ørsted []? It seems to me that kids will understand his significance well enough, if you remind them that every device electrical and electronic (from light bulbs to computers) owes its existence to his discovery of electromagnetism.

    Or you could go back far enough that the "science" enters the realm of the absurd (to us, but reasonable enough at the time). People like Hippocrates [] and Galen [] could serve to illustrate how very, very far medical science has come. And at the same time,
  • Maurice Wilkins, his autobiography is excellent, very readable and gives an insight into the career of a scientist. It also shows the human side of someone who was rather glossed over in the story of the double helix. 7368813-0262849?v=glance&n=266239&s=gateway&v=glan ce/ []
  • Here's some easily digestable biographies on Wikipedia's "simple english" branch: [] ... and more specifically, e.g. Physicists [].

    Not many, but still some.
  • I would like to suggest some scientists which I did not notice in any previous messages - I think they are indeed among the greatest scientists ever and not many people actually know them.

    1. Mikhail Lomonosov [] which is the real polymath and has made significant contributions to science and art. Everyone should know him. The story of his life is also quite interesting and motivating for students.

    2. Henri Poincaré [] another 'universalist' - a great mathematician and physicist of the XX century and of

  • Neils Bohr. Not only was he a great scientist, but also an Olympic athlete. Cool guy.
  • Anyone with a sense of humor about Gary Larson's cartoon [] is someone your students should be learning about.

    As for monolithic dead-tree biographies, not so much, but she's written a number of books and there's abundant information on the web.
  • Manhatten Project, stand-alone collision avoidance system for instrument flight rules, co-author (with his son) of the Alvarez Hypothesis for the K-T Extinction.
  • Lise Meitner (Score:1, Informative)

    by N. P. Coward (953833)
    Hedy Lamarr has been suggested so here's another to inspire the girls: []

    Helped to invent Nuclear Physics but credit (and Nobel Prize) went a male. Her tombstone reads, "A physicist who never lost her humanity."

  • He was simply one of the most extraordinary people that modern history has known. [] That probably infringes somebodies copyright somewhere, but it's like Shakespeare or Aspirin - too good to not freely share.
  • There are millions of more useful science-related things to be learning about, and universities are complaining that their intake of science students doesn't know enough science. Skip the fluffy stuff and teach them Feynman diagrams or special relativity - cool, mindbending physics that will get kids interested in science for its own sake. What we don't need is more of the cult-of-personality that surrounds many scientists. Science is fundamentally independent of people, this is something that often seems t
    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      There are millions of more useful science-related things to be learning about...blah blah blah

      I disagree 110%. Perhaps you think intelligent design should taught along with evolution? I mean not to troll, but to make a point. Those that would argue intelligent design is as much a 'fact' as evolution is fail to understand what science, and science eduction, are about.

      Yes, we have facts. We should seek to discover these, and our students should learn these, but facts do not make science. Science is p

  • I do believe that the kids should learn about Scientist and how they work, however in todays world there is far too much emphasis on their personal life and their fame, than about their scientific work and what it made so special. Rather then give them biographies to read, teach them how to do science and show this by explaining why a certain scientist became so famous, what was his methology, why was it such a big advance in his time.

    What does a kid learn, if you give him a biography which is 90 % about
  • I would like to suggest Tracy Hickam... He works for Nasa... Not really a scientist but almost. You can easily put the movie based on him in the Library, its "October Sky"
  • I've noticed that many of these fine suggestions are male. One of the biggest problems in my field of physics is that there is a very large gender imbalance. Perhaps we're sending a message early on that only men are good at science -- an absolutely false one. So, for instance, consider Marie Curie [] and her daughter Irene.

    Preferably, look for a treatment which doesn't portray the scientists as demigods; the dirty little secret that you find out after joining their ranks is that they're just as normal as eve

  • One of the most brilliant of British mathematicians and physicists after Newton. Showed great intellect at an early age, learning several languages as a child. Was also a notoriously bad poet. He is best known for applying the least action principle to problems of classical mechanics and optics. Studying him might also get kids interested in quaternions which have been largely and unjustly forgotten.
  • Mendeleev would make a nice point of departure for talking about basic chemistry. I don't know if there's an age-appropriate biography, though.

    He's a great example of an integrative mind, and his accomplishments with the periodic table are a very cool example of being able to sift a seemingly confused and overwhelming set of known information in order to understand the world differently, more simply, and better.

    As a human figure, too, he's interesting enough to maybe catch a kid's eye. Huge beard, stori

  • The Fermilab Spires database [] lists over 50 titles, including:
    The discovery of anti-matter : the autobiography of Carl David Anderson, the youngest man to win the Nobel prize
    Cockcroft and the atom
    Atoms in the family My life with Enrico Fermi (by Laura Fermi)
    Strong force : the story of physicist Shirley Ann Jackson
    Living with nuclei : 50 years in the nuclear age, memoirs of a Japanese physicist
    Lawrence and his laboratory : a history of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
    Schrèodinger, life and thoug
  • This is not contemporary information, but when I was a kid I just went through the series of biographies at the public and school library. We had Booker T Washington, Edison, all usualy suspects. Not much in the physics realm. I don't know why. Perhaps most of the physics people of the time were not American born. I would like to see what a middle school bio of Feyman would look like, as most of the interesting stuff is the drinking and cavorting, and, of course, the situation [] with his first wife.

    It i

There are three kinds of people: men, women, and unix.