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Project: The Life of Marie Curie Pop-Up Biography Book:
-Early Life & Education
Marie Curie (Maria Sklodowska) was born in Warsaw (modern day Poland) on November 7, 1867. She was the youngest of 5 children. Curie's parents were both teachers. At 10 years old, she lost her mother to tuberculosis. Curie took after her father in becoming a math and physics teacher. Marie Curie was the top student in her secondary school, however, she could not attend Warsaw University due to financial reasons. Instead, she continued her studies at Warsaw's floating university, which was an informal underground class. Curie worked as a personal tutor and studied physics, chemistry, and math in her spare time. In 1891, Curie made her way to Paris and enrolled at Sorbonne. Although she still had financial troubles, Marie completed her Master's in Physics and Math. On July 26, 1895, Curie married French physicist Pierre Curie, and in 1897, they welcomed their first daughter, Irine.
Marie Curie discovered radioactivity, and together with her husband Pierre, the radioactive elements polonium and radium while working with the mineral pitchblende.
Curie conducted her own experiments on uranium rays and discovered that they remained constant, no matter the condition or form of the uranium because of her fascination with Henri Becquerel's work discovering that uranium casts off weaker rays than x-rays. The ray's she theorized, came from the element's atomic structure. This revolutionary idea created the field of atomic physics. Curie coined the word "radioactivity" to describe the phenomena.
Following her discovery of radioactivity, she began researching with her husband Pierre. Working with the mineral pitchblende, the pair discovered a new radioactive element in 1898. They named the element polonium, after Marie's native country of Poland. They also detected the presence of another radioactive material and called it radium. In 1902, the Curies announced that they produced a decigram of pure radium, demonstrating its existence as a unique chemical element.
Polonium and Radium Atomic Structure Models