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Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria Sibylla Merian
Maria Sibylla Merian

NAME: Maria Sibylla Merian

BORN/DIED: 2nd April 1647 – 13th January 1717

JOB: Botanical artist, Entomologist, Naturalist

KEY FACTS: Maria grew up in Frankfurt, Germany. She had a fascination for natural history and enjoyed painting images of plants and insects that she had seen. She had a particular fascination for caterpillars and was interested in their transformation into butterflies or moths. At the time, very few people had an interest in insects and little was known about them. On the 10th July 1966 Maria set sail for South America to paint new species of insects. In order to pay for the trip, she had to sell 255 of her paintings! She discovered many new facts about insets and published her findings in a book called Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium when she returned.

ACHIEVEMENTS: She is most famous for the publication of her book which helped to educate people about insects. In particular, she made significant contributions to scientific thinking for her careful documentations about the metamorphosis of butterflies. Her portrait could be found on German bank notes before they converted to the Euro.

Ada Lovelace

440px Ada Lovelace portrait
Ada Lovelace

NAME: Ada Lovelace

BORN/DIED:10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852

JOB: Computer Programmer, Mathematician

KEY FACTS: Ada was born in London and showed a gift for mathematics from an early age. When she was a teenager she began to work closely with British mathematician Charles Babbage, also known as ‘the father of computers’. She wrote a description of Babbage’s ‘analytical engine’ (a very early form of computer) which is considered by many to be the first computer program.

ACHIEVEMENTS: She is now considered the first computer programmer although her contributions were not recognised during her lifetime. The Ada programming language is named after her.

SUGGESTION: Order the book ‘Ada Twist, Scientist’. The central character, inspired by Ada Lovelace, embarks on fact finding missions and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery.
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Steve Jobs

steve jobs

NAME: Steve Jobs

Mary: 24th Feb 1955 – 5th October 2011.

JOB: Internet entrepreneur, businessman and inventor.

KEY FACTS: Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco and was put up for adoption at birth. His adopted parents raised him and his adopted sister in California. Jobs admired his fathers love of mechanics and became interested in electronics. Jobs was very clever but misbehaved at school, claiming to have be bored. He briefly attended college but dropped out and spent some time travelling around India, searching for enlightenment.

On his return in San Francisco, he worked with his childhood friend Steve Wozniak to form the Apple company. The began to make computers in Jobs garage when he was just 21yrs old. Apple went on to become internationally successful with Jobs working closely with designers to create products such as the iMac, iPad, iPod and iPhone. Jobs died in 2011 from pancreatic cancer.

ACHIEVEMENTS: Jobs was the co-founder of Apple and the primary investor and CEO of Pixar.

Mary and Louis Leakey


NAME: Mary and Louis Leakey (English)

Mary: 16th Feb 1913 – 9th Dec 1996. Louis: 7th August 1903 – 1st Oct 1972.

JOB: Archaeologist and paleontologists.

KEY FACTS: Mary Leakey was born in London, England. Her family travelled around a lot and during this time she developed an interest in archaeology. She went on to meet and marry Louis Leakey, a paleoanthropologist (studied fossils). They had three sons and enjoyed exploring and excavating as a family. They spent much of their life working in Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa. Throughout their career they discovered 15 new species of animals.

ACHIEVEMENTS: Mary Leakey discovered 15 new species of animal throughout her career. Mary discovered the first proconsul skill (an extinct primate).

Edwin Hubble

Edwin Hubble
Edwin Hubble

NAME: Edwin Hubble (American)

BORN/DIED: 20th November 1889 – 28th September 1953

JOB: Astronomer

KEY FACTS: Hubble was born in Missouri in the USA. He was a gifted athlete at school, playing a variety of sports including basketball and track and field. He’d also had an interest in astrology since he was a child and went on to achieve a PhD in astronomy. Hubble joined the military during WW2. After the war he renewed his studies in astronomy.

ACHIEVEMENTS: He is regarded as one of the most important astrologers of all time for his astronomy work. This included identifying galaxies beyond the milky way. The Hubble Telescope was named in his honour.

Caroline Hershel

Caroline Hershel
Caroline Hershel

NAME: Caroline Hershel

BORN/DIED: 16th March 1750 – 9th January 1848

JOB: Computer scientist, Software engineer

KEY FACTS: Caroline Hershel was born in Hanover, Germany. She learnt to sing and developed a reputation as a soloist but over time, began to take an interest in her brother Williams focus on astronomy. William built his own telescopes from lenses he had made as he was unhappy with the quality of the ones available. Caroline helped him with his work and went on to make some significant discoveries including eight comets.

ACHIEVEMENTS: She discovered eight comets and became the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal astronomical Society in 1828.

Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton
Margaret Hamilton

NAME: Margaret Hamilton

BORN/DIED: 17th August 1936

JOB: Computer scientist, Software engineer

KEY FACTS: Margaret was born in Indiana, US. She studied mathematics at university and went on to take a position at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) as a software developer, developing software to predict weather.

Hamilton then joined a department working on developing software for the Apollo space mission. This included a guidance system that could handle errors and prioritise tasks. Three minutes before Apollo 11 was due to land on the moon, the computer became flooded with tasks and sent out a warning alarm. Thanks to Hamiltons software, the problem was solved and the spacecraft landed safely on the moon. Without her guidance system, the mission may have been aborted!

ACHIEVEMENTS: Hamilton was one of the first people to use the term ‘software engineering’. She is a leading female figure in her field. In 2016, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, the highest civilian honour in the United States

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid

NAME: Zaha Hadid

BORN/DIED: 31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016

JOB: Architect

KEY FACTS: Zaha was an Iraqi-born British architect. She designed lots of famous buildings including the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, the Guangzhou Opera House in China and the London Aquatic Centre built for the 2012 Olympics.

ACHIEVEMENTS: She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. She also received the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011. She was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II.

Photo by ©Simone Cecchetti ( [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield 1

NAME: Chris Hadfield

BORN: 29th August 1959

JOB: Astronaut

KEY FACTS: When she was 10yrs old, Helen saw the Star Wars film and this inspired her to work with robots. She made this dream come true by going on to co-found a robotics company called iRobot. The company designs and builds robots for both military use and for inside and outside the home.

Hadfield is Canadian. He was raised on a farm and became interested in flying from a young age when he saw the Apollo 11 mission on television. He learnt to fly during his time in the Canadian Armed Forces and went on to complete his fighter plane training. He also completed a degree in mechanical engineering.

In 1992, Hadfield was selected to be one of four new Canadian astronauts. He spent twenty years working for NASA in various roles including as the voice of mission control and supporting shuttle launches.

Hadfield participated in some space missions during his time working for NASA. In 2012 he travelled to the International Space Station. He made headlines for singing in space including his tribute to David Bowie.

ACHIEVEMENTS: He received the order of Canada in 2014 amongst other awards.

Helen Greiner

Helen Greiner

NAME: Helen Greiner

BORN: December 6, 1967

JOB: Robotics Engineer

KEY FACTS: When she was 10yrs old, Helen saw the Star Wars film and this inspired her to work with robots. She made this dream come true by going on to co-found a robotics company called iRobot. The company designs and builds robots for both military use and for inside and outside the home.

ACHIEVEMENTS: She has achieved various awards including the ‘Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award’ in 2008 and was inducted into the ‘Women in Technology International Hall of Fame’.

By TechCrunch –, CC BY 2.0,

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