Week beginning 22.2.21 - Bonus Activities if you'd like to do a little bit more.


This week we thought we'd look at some people whose work impacted on the world so much that we still talk about some of them today! Our world wouldn't be as we currently know it to be, without these people. See what you can learn. 

Grace Darling 

Grace was born on 24th November 1815 in Bamburgh in Northumberland. Her father, William Darling, was the keeper of the Longstone Lighthouse on the Fame Islands (a group of small islands off the coast of Northumberland). Grace's mother was called Thomasin. 

Grace, her parents and her brothers and sisters, all lived in the Longstone Lighthouse. 

In 1838, a massive storm hit the coastline and wrecked a ship, the SS Forfarshire, about three quarters of a mile from the Longstone Lighthouse. Grace's father William assessed the situation and decided  that he needed to rescue any survivors. His sons weren't at the lighthouse, so he took Grace with him in his rowing boat, she was just 23, to see what help they could give. Working together Grace and her father managed to rescue 9 survivors from the ship. 

The Victorian newspapers loved the story of the rescue of survivors from the SS Forefarshire shipwreck and they made the most of Grace's role in it. She became a celebrity. 

For her bravery, Grace received  a personal letter from Queen Victoria and a reward of £50 (equivalent to roughly £4000 in Victorian money). Grace also received lots of fan mail, asking for locks of her hair or pieces of the dress she wore when she went to help the shipwreck. In Victorian England it was even possible to buy Grace Darling themed plates, postcards and even boxes of chocolates! 

Grace died of tuberculosis on 20th October 1842. She was buried  in a family grave in St Aidan's Churchyard, Bamburgh. 

Watch the BBC2 film below to find out more about Grace Darling 

Grace Darling BBC2 film 

If you were to become a celebrity, what worthwhile reason would you like it to be for?


Edward Jenner 

Edward Jenner was born in 1749 in Gloucestershire, he was the eighth child of nine children! When he grew up, Jenner trained as a doctor and he became famous for his discovery of the smallpox vaccine. 

As a country doctor, Jenner came to understand that cowpox not only protected against smallpox but could be transmitted from one person to another in order to protect them from the deadly disease. 

Smallpox  was a dangerous  disease - it killed around 10% of the population and 20% of those people living in towns and cities were disease spread more easily. The symptoms of smallpox were pus-filled spots (yuk!) and those people who didn't die, were left with very nasty sores and scars on their faces called pockmarks. Smallpox could also make a person blind. Jenner's  discovery of a vaccine to protect people from smallpox was a huge medical breakthrough! 

Not everyone agreed  that Jenner was doing the right thing and he was widely criticised. Jenner was made Physician Extraordinary to King George IV and his work on smallpox made him very famous in his lifetime. He received honorary degrees, tributes  and a special medal from France. Jenner spent his later life working on vaccinations and inoculating people for free. 

After Jenner's death in 1823, vaccinating against smallpox, using the cowpox vaccination, was made compulsory in the British Isles. In 1980 - just 40 or so years ago - the World Health Organisation announced that the deadly disease of smallpox had been eradicated (got rid of) worldwide! 

Vaccinations now prevent an estimated 2-3 million deaths every single year! It is said that Edward  Jenner has saved more lives through his work than any other human in history. 

Click below to watch a short film about the life of Edward Jenner 

Edward Jenner BBC2 film 

If you could be remembered for something for as long as Jenner, what would it be? What legacy would you like to leave the world?


Mary Anning 

Mary Anning was born in the seaside town of Lyme Regis in Dorset in 1799. Although her parents had ten children (!) only Mary and her brother Joseph lived to be adults. It is said that Mary had a lucky escape when she was a baby. A lady holding her once was struck by lightning and baby Mary had a miraculous escape! 

Mary's father didn't earn much so he boosted the family's money by searching for fossils on the beach; he called them curiosities. He would sell these fossils to holidaymakers. Mary and Joseph would join him and both children developed a deep love of fossil hunting.

When their father died, Mary was still young.Her and her brother carried on fossil hunting to support the family. In 1811, when Mary was 12, they discovered a 5.2 metre long skeleton! At that time, people believed that any unrecognisable creatures must have travelled from far off lands so scientists simply thought it belonged to a crocodile. Eventually though they realised it was an ancient species and it was named Ichthyosdaurus - meaning 'fish lizard.' 

In 1823, Mary also discovered  the first ever Plesiosaur skeleton! This long-necked sea creature looked so strange that people thought it was fake! Mary made lots of other fascinating discoveries - a flying reptile that was later named the Pterodactyl and coprolites - fossilised poo - which helped her work out what dinosaurs ate! Having taught herself geology, anatomy and scientific illustration, Mary was so highly skilled that she took important scientists fossil hunting and discussed ideas and theories with them. 

Mary died in 1847. Although she was well-known for her discoveries, Mary wasn't taken seriously as a scientist in her lifetime because of her gender and her poor background. Some of the male scientists claimed her finds as their own! Today though, Mary Anning is recognised as a pioneer in the field of palaeontology  - the study of fossils - and is celebrated  as the greatest fossil hunter of all time! 

Click below to watch a film all about Mary Anning 

Mary Anning film

What's your most interesting discovery? Where could it lead you?! 


Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was born on 12th May 1820 in Florence, Italy. Her mum and dad named her after the town where she was born. Florence had a sister - Frances Parthenope - who was known as 'Pop'. 

Florence's dad was very wealthy and able to provide his family with a privileged lifestyle. Although it wasn't common for girls  to go to school, Mr Nightingale was keen for his daughters to learn and gave them lessons in lots of different subjects, including science, history and maths. 

In Victorian Britain, women like Florence weren't expected to work - their job was to marry and look after the home. But Florence saw something very different for her future. When she was 16 she decided she was going to be a nurse. 

Florence's parents were not keen! Nursing was not a respectful profession in the Victorian times and most hospitals were dirty and full of sick people who died - no place for a girl! Florence was determined though and, in 1851, Florence was allowed to study nursing at a school in Germany for women. It was  there she learnt the important skills in caring for patients and the importance of hospital cleanliness. 

By 1853, Florence was running a women's hospital in London and doing an amazing job! She improved the working conditions for those working at the hospital as well as the conditions for the patients. 

The Crimean War happened and Florence was asked to lead a team of nurses to Crimea to care for the wounded and injured  soldiers there. It was a huge challenge for Florence as there were no blankets,  fresh food or clean water - unsurprisingly disease spread quickly and lots of soldiers died. Florence knew that it was only if conditions improved that the soldiers  would live. She set up a hospital kitchen and provided soldiers with quality care - bathing, dressing their wounds and feeding them. As a result of her improvements, more soldiers began to survive. 

Back in England, after the war, Florence discovered she had become famous for her treatment of the soldiers. Queen Victoria even wrote her a letter of thanks! In 1856, Florence met with the Queen and discussed how hospital conditions could be vastly improved to help. In 1860 the Nightingale Training School for Nurses  opened at St Thomas' Hospital in London. It provided excellent nurse training and made nursing a respectable career for women who wanted to work outside of the home.

Due to Florence Nightingale's hard working, thousands of people's lives were saved and, in 1907, Florence became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit - an award for amazing work, given by the Queen. 

Florence Nightingale died in 1910 but she will always be recognised as the founder of modern nursing. 

Find out more by watching the film below: 

Florence Nightingale film 

During the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic, new hospitals were built in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Exeter, Harrogate and Washington. They are called Nightingale Hospitals and have been in use very recently to treat people suffering with the Coronavirus. What do you think Florence would have thought of this?


Alexander Graham Bell 


Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 3rd 1847. Alexander was mostly schooled at home and, when he  had grown up, worked with his father to teach deaf people to speak. 

In the mid 1870s, Alexander invented the telephone with Thomas Augustus Watson. On March 10th 1876, Alexander made the first successful test of  the telephone. He spoke a few words to Thomas which were, "Mr Watson, come here!" 

In 1876 in Philadelphia, USA, Alexander and Thomas demonstrated the telephone to the public. People were amazed by this new device and, in 1877, Alexander established the Bell Telephone Company. 

After his success with the telephone, Alexander pursued his interests in science, invention and the education of deaf people. in 1890 he founded an organisation to teach speech to hearing-impaired  people. This organisation became known as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. 

Alexander Graham Bell died on August 2nd 1922. At the time of his burial, every telephone of the Bell system in the USA and Canada was kept silent for one minute. 

Click below to watch a short film all about Alexander Graham Bell. 

Alexander Graham Bell film 

The invention of the telephone changed the way society is able to communicate. How would your life be different if the telephone had not been invented?