Women Scientists – Making Headway Every Day!

Age group 3rd – 6th class
Total time: 30mins – 1hr

Outline: To learn about some important women physicists and their scientific discoveries

You can download this drawing below
(Graphics Credit: Mary O’Donnell)

One of our undergraduate workshop facilitators, Mary O’Donnell, who is studying engineering at the University of Limerick, also happens to be a great illustrator.

She has designed some pictures of women physicists that can be coloured in. This page gives context to the drawings, so children can learn more about contemporary women scientists from around the world.

Notes for parents/carers and teachers

This activity can be carried out at home by a child/small group of children and an adult, by varying the types of age-appropriate tasks. The materials are available at home or easily obtainable. The activity is written out with instructions directed to the child’s parent/carer. Feel free to adapt this activity as appropriate.

1. Women Make Great Scientists

Start with some questions like the following to introduce the topic of women in science and physics…

How many famous people in science can you think of? Do you know who first thought about how gravity works? (Isaac Newton) Do you know who invented the first astronomical telescope and studied the moon? (Galileo Galilei). Can you name any women scientists? Why do you think we know so little about women scientists?

You can download this drawing below
(Graphics Credit: Mary O’Donnell)

After discussing the questions above, you can read the following together…

Women scientists have been around for a long time. Women are just as curious and intelligent as men about finding out how the world around us works. However, for much of history, women have had to fight much harder than men to be accepted as scientists because in most places it was not seen as an appropriate/proper activity for women to engage in. Many women scientists were never recognised for their important work during their lives. That’s why today we’d like to change that, and tell you the story of some amazing women physicists.

You can watch the following video and then try out our fun drawing activity below.

2. Let’s Draw and Learn

Download and print the following posters (PDF format) and find out about these four amazing women physicists and what they discovered.

Donna Strickland poster

Lise Meitner poster

Katherine Johnson poster

Jocelyn Bell Burnell poster


After you have read their stories and coloured in the drawings, you could also look up some of the new words you did not know beforehand, and see if you can understand them better. If you like, pick one of these women to research into more and find out more about her life and work. We have some links below about them to get you started!

3. Sources and Extra Resources

See below links to more information about each of these women physicists on our website.

Katherine Johnson and the Story of Space Exploration

Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Story of Astronomy

Lise Meitner and Story of Energy

Donna Strickland and the Story of Light

You can also find out more about other women physicists here too.