About the Holiday
Today we celebrate the birthday of German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen who in 1854 was instrumental in developing the Bunsen burner in 1854. At the time, burners used in chemistry labs were fueled with coal gas, which did not burn hot enough, was expensive, and left the beakers sooty. Bunsen and Peter Desaga devised a cleaner and hotter burner that was also easier to use. Now, the Bunsen burner is standard equipment in labs around the world.
Marie Curie (Little People, Big Dreams)
Marie: My First Marie Curie Board Book
Written by Isabel Sánchez Vegara | Illustrated by Frau Isa
From the time when Marie was a little girl, she knew she wanted to be a scientist. Marie was very smart. “At school, she won a gold medal for her studies, which she kept in her drawer like a treasure.” Because women were not allowed to go to college in her country, she moved to France to go to the university there. Even though French was not her first language, Marie was soon the top math and science student in Paris.
One day Marie met Pierre, who loved science as much as she did. They got married and worked together in their own laboratory, where they discovered radium and polonium. “It was such a thrilling moment for science!” Marie and Pierre even won the Nobel Prize. Marie was the first woman ever to be awarded this honor. When Pierre later had an accident, Marie was left alone to continue their work.
All her research and experiments paid off when she was awarded her second Nobel Prize. When war broke out, “Marie’s discoveries were used by doctors to help injured soldiers.” Marie inspired many girls who studied science at her own institute in Paris. Besides science, Marie taught her students that there was nothing to fear, “many things to learn, and many ways to help those in need.”
A timeline and brief yet detailed biography of her life follows the story.
With thrilling recognition that even in the youngest hearts beat future writers, artists, adventurers, designers, and scientists, the Little People, Big Dreams series introduces preschoolers to inspiring women role models. In Marie Curie: Little People, Big Dreams, Isabel Sánchez Vegara reveals the life and work of Marie Curie with straightforward storytelling that illuminates while affirming the intelligence of her young audience. Uplifting, life-determining personality traits that carried Marie over obstacles and to the top of her profession—such as not taking no for an answer, treasuring your accomplishments, working hard, and helping others—are highlighted for little ones to learn from.
Frau Isa’s stylish illustrations in a striking, subdued color palette will entice the youngest readers to listen and learn. While the spotlight is always on Marie, each page also focuses on one or two main images, such as Marie and Pierre’s lab table, a wounded soldier’s X-ray, and Marie holding her Nobel Prize, that help little ones see and understand the important aspects of the story.
Encapsulating both history and the timeless persistence that drives people to achieve their full potential, Marie Curie—available in both picture book and board book editions—is a must for preschool classrooms and would be a rousing addition to home bookshelves.
Ages 3 – 5
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1847809629 (Picture Book); 978-1786032539 (Board Book)
You can check out more about Isabel Sánchez Vegara on Instagram.
Discover more about Frau Isa and her art on her website.
Bunsen Burner Day Activity
Green Pennies Chemistry Experiment
You know what color pennies are! They’re those brownish coins amid all the silver. But what if you could turn those pennies green—like dollar bills? You can with this easy and way cool chemistry experiment!
- 10 – 12 dull pennies
- Lemon juice
- 2 small bowls
- ¼ cup measuring cup
- 1 teaspoon
- Paper towels
- Pour ¼ cup vinegar into a bowl
- Add 1 teaspoon salt
- Mix thoroughly until salt has dissolved
- Place a few pennies in the bowl and leave for five minutes.
- Take the pennies out and place them on the paper towel.
- Let the pennies dry and watch what happens. The reaction becomes more dramatic over time, so check on your pennies at different times throughout the day
- To see the chemical reaction at work, dip one penny half way into the vinegar/salt solution and wait a minute
- Lift the penny out of the solution and see the result
- Fold a paper towel to several thicknesses and place in bowl
- Place a few pennies on top of the paper towel
- Pour enough vinegar over the pennies to saturate the paper towel
- Wait two to three hours and see what happens
- You can leave the pennies in the bowl and continue to add vinegar as the paper towel dries. Flip the pennies over to create a chemical reaction on both sides
Experiment with other acids, such as the lemon juice.
Why do the pennies turn green?
Pennies are made of copper. The vinegar and salt solution helps the copper react with oxygen in the air to form the blue-green patina of malachite on the surface of the penny. This chemical reaction is called oxidation. You can see the same green color on other things made of copper like plumbing pipes and many statues—even the Statue of Liberty!
If you’d like to record your observations of your pennies like a chemist does, download and print this lab sheet.
Picture Book Review