Site Explains Marie Curie's Life for Young People
Marie Curie has long served as an inspiration for young people, and especially girls, who are interested in science. Her example may by itself be a main reason why France has a larger fraction of women physicists than most other nations. In the United States and elsewhere, there is a lower fraction of women in physics than in almost any other profession a harmful neglect of a social resource and a loss of personal opportunity to thousands of individuals. Studies find that one reason for the shortfall is that girls are often discouraged from entering a career in science in their pre-teen and early teen years. As one small step to address this problem, the AIP Center for History of Physics has mounted a biographical Web exhibit designed explicitly to appeal to young people.
The Center already has a major Web exhibit on "Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity," which is visited by nearly a thousand people a day. Although designed for the high school - to - retired audience, the exhibit has attracted complimentary e-mails from lower-school teachers, parents and students. A much larger audience in this age group is expected for the new exhibit, titled "Marie Curie in Brief." It has a shorter and more readable text, brighter colors and graphics, many striking illustrations, and interactive "mouseover" activity to sustain interest.
The exhibit is divided into sections titled "From Poland to Paris," "Looking for a Laboratory, Finding Love," "The Discovery of Radium" (supplemented by a section on "The Mystery of the Rays," explaining the basic science), "Honors, Disasters & Renewal," and "Radium Campaigns." The new exhibit includes 14 excerpts from Curie's writings and seven quotes from letters by Marie and her husband Pierre, bringing her experiences vividly to life. Links from the longer exhibit make the excerpts available as supplementary material, while the longer exhibit itself is linked to "Marie Curie in Brief" for readers who want more information on any topic. The text was written by Naomi Pasachoff, author of five biographies for young people, with layout by Linda Wooliever, an expert Web designer and home-schooling parent. The site editor is Spencer Weart, a historian of physics and author of two children's science books. The exhibit is located at www.aip.org/history/curie/brief .