Many people extol Marie Skłodowska Curie as a two-time Nobel Prize winner. Some know a little of the achievements that gave rise to these honors: her research into radioactivity led to a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 (jointly with Henri Becquerel and her husband Pierre Curie), and her discovery of two new elements prompted a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. But few are equally aware of her simultaneous lifelong career as a teacher. Her devotion to education enabled others to find fulfillment and make their own contributions. Marie Curie taught for 40 of her 66 years. For 30 of those years, she taught physics.

Throughout her life, Marie Curie reached beyond transferring facts into new heads. She strived for the higher goal of empowering the individual with—depending on the setting—literacy, curiosity, encouragement, a laboratory, guidance, financial support, and inspiration.

Curie’s early years laid the foundation for her ability...

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