Physics, chemistry, mathematics, and medicine: our lives have been vastly improved by the work of scientists.

Throughout history the science community has fought over who made the greatest contributions to the field of science. That is a very difficult concept to quantify. Science in general is broken into two forms, the theoretical and experimental bodies. Theoretical science is based on creating mathematical models that explain some form of interaction between energy and/or matter. Experimental scientists design and carry out the experiments that allows them to take physical and quantifiable observations to prove or disprove these theories. The theoretical scientist is more math driven in their pursuits. The experimental scientist is focus on engineering. Very few scientists throughout history wherever able to master one of the fields, let alone two. This section of our site will look at the people that are widely thought to have offered the greatest contributions to the science field in either capacity.

This collection of worksheets offers short reading passages about the lives and work of famous scientists. Students will learn about scientists in many different disciplines, and discover why their contributions to knowledge are so important. Each short essay is accompanied by two answer sheets (multiple choice and short answer), as well as a one page "organizer," in which students can note short facts about the person. Answer keys are provided for each sheet. Project idea: Have your students present a science fair project in the persona of a famous scientist. Louis Pasteur and germ theory, for example.

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Albert Einstein - Reading Passage

Perhaps one of the most famous scientists of all time, Einstein is known as "the greatest genius of the 20th century."

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Einstein Organizer

He was unable to find work as a teacher, so he went to work at the Swiss Patent Office.

Einstein Multiple Choice Question

In 1921 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the photoelectric effect.

Einstein Short Answer Questions

Have you ever wondered, "Why is the sky blue?" Einstein wrote a complicated equation which answered this question.

Galileo Galilei

Using precise measurements, he created the law of falling bodies. He made a telescope, which he used to study lunar craters.

Galilei Organizer

He is seen as the first scientist to use a telescope to make important astronomical discoveries.

Multiple Choice Questions

Galileo was a university professor, and was required to teach the beliefs of the time rather than this new sun-centered theory.

Short Answer Questions

Galileo is well respected within the science community, largely because of his excellent scientific techniques.

Charles Darwin

Darwin's work taught us about evolution by natural selection - explaining how living things grow, survive, and evolve by adapting to their natural surroundings.

Darwin Organizer

Darwin studied at Edinburgh University. While he was supposed to be studying medicine, he was actually already interested in life forms and their creation: he studied marine invertebrates.

Darwin Multiple Choice Questions

Darwin was reluctant to publish his book, because his findings were in conflict with the beliefs of evolution at the time.

Darwin Short Answer Questions

Charles Darwin went on to study plants, emotions in man and animals, and earthworms and their effect on soil, as well as many other subjects.

Sir Isaac Newton - Reading Passage

He was an astronomer, a mathematician, an alchemist, and a physicist. He created many laws that are still used today.

Newton Organizer

He went on to Trinity College in Cambridge. Here, he developed something we know today as "calculus." Calculus is defined as "the study of how things change," and is a mathematical process.

Newton Multiple Choice Question

When Newton wrote these laws, he developed the theory of gravity.

Newton Short Answer Questions

Newton held the position of Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge for 33 years.

Edwin Hubble - Reading Passage

Hubble was an American astronomer who forever changed the way we look at the sky.

Hubble Organizer

One of Hubble's most notable achievements was that he proved that there are other galaxies in the sky.

Multiple Choice Questions

He compared the brightness of stars to how much light they were actually giving off, allowing him to estimate their age. This helped prove that the universe was growing, and determined that the universe is actually hundreds of millions of light-years old.

Short Answer Questions

His findings gave Hubble a celebrity status in the thirties and forties, and he was friends with many Hollywood big-shots, including Charlie Chaplin.

James Clerk Maxwell - Reading Passage

The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell’s equations of the electromagnetic field.

Maxwell Organizer

Working with electromagnetic radiation, Maxwell opened the door to many inventions which we all use every day: microwaves, televisions, radio, radar, and thermal imaging.

Maxwell Multiple Choice Questions

The first of Maxwell’s many scientific contributions was the study of Saturn’s rings. He showed that the rings were made of numerous small solid particles.

Maxwell Short Answer Questions

A deeply religious man, James strongly opposed Darwin’s theory of evolution, which was just becoming popular.

Johannes Kepler - Reading Passage

His main achievement was discovering the three laws of planetary motion.

Kepler Organizer

During wartime, his religious beliefs forced him to lose his job and move from Germany to Prague.

Kepler - Multiple Choice Questions

Kepler also helped further the study of optics and sight. He worked with Galileo Galilei on his telescopes.

Kepler Short Answer Questions

Kepler is also credited for calculating the still accepted birth year of Christ, and for figuring out that the tides are caused by the Moon.

Louis Pasteur Passage

He is most famous for his work regarding germs and vaccinations. Many believe that M. Pasteur set the stage for modern biology and biochemistry.

Pasteur Organizer

After a university education in Paris, Pasteur went on to begin teaching chemistry. He studied yeast cells, and proved how they produce alcohol and carbon dioxide from sugar.

Pasteur Multiple Choice Questions

Pasteur loved wine, and with his scientific research, was able to truly revolutionize the French industry: the beverage industry had many problems at this time because their beer and wine spoiled.

Pasteur Short Answer Questions

In 1862, Pasteur again helped the industry in France. The silk industry was having big problems because the silkworms were dying of a disease.

Paul Dirac Reading Passage

Winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics, Paul Dirac was born in 1902, in England.

Dirac Organizer

Paul Dirac's work was very advanced in the world of quantum physics. He concerned himself with studying algebra and atomic properties.

Multiple Choice Questions

Dirac was famously quiet and studious. He formed the "Dirac Equation," which in the world of mathematics, was considered a spectacular discovery.

Short Answer Questions

Dirac is also famous for his love of travel. In 1929 he went around the world.

Emil Fischer - Reading Passage

Emil Fischer was a scientist and chemist born in Germany in the year 1852. His father was a businessman and wanted him to take over the family business, but Emil was sure he wanted to study the natural sciences.

Fischer Organizer

Between 1882 and 1906, Fischer worked hard to show that many various substances, including caffeine, adenine, and xanthine, all came from the same family.

Multiple Choice Questions

He devoted his life to organic chemistry. The school where he taught became a center for some of the greatest scientific pupils, and under his direction his laboratory flourished.

Short Answer Questions

After his death, he was remembered by the German Chemical Society by the creation of the Emil Fischer Memorial Medal.