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Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

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Meet Wu Chien Shiung, famous physicist who overcame prejudice to prove that she could be anything she wanted. When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This Meet Wu Chien Shiung, famous physicist who overcame prejudice to prove that she could be anything she wanted.   When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.


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Meet Wu Chien Shiung, famous physicist who overcame prejudice to prove that she could be anything she wanted. When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This Meet Wu Chien Shiung, famous physicist who overcame prejudice to prove that she could be anything she wanted.   When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.

30 review for Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marcie Flinchum

    I’ll be honest, my background in physics is limited to what I’ve learned on the TV show “Big Bang Theory.” Robeson’s amazing biography of Wu Chien Shiung tells the story of an amazing physicist, and she does so in a way that explains the importance of her work in physics and how groundbreaking it was. This is the story of passion and persistence buoyed by the love of a family who knew their daughter could be great and did everything in their power to provide her with a good education. Wu Chien I’ll be honest, my background in physics is limited to what I’ve learned on the TV show “Big Bang Theory.” Robeson’s amazing biography of Wu Chien Shiung tells the story of an amazing physicist, and she does so in a way that explains the importance of her work in physics and how groundbreaking it was. This is the story of passion and persistence buoyed by the love of a family who knew their daughter could be great and did everything in their power to provide her with a good education. Wu Chien Shiung’s story is inspiring and needs to be read by all young budding scientists. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom is a children's picture book written by Teresa Robeson and illustrated by Rebecca Huang. It chronicles the life of Chien-Shiung Wu from her birth in a small child in China to becoming one of the preeminent physicists. Chien-Shiung Wu was a Chinese-American experimental physicist who made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom is a children's picture book written by Teresa Robeson and illustrated by Rebecca Huang. It chronicles the life of Chien-Shiung Wu from her birth in a small child in China to becoming one of the preeminent physicists. Chien-Shiung Wu was a Chinese-American experimental physicist who made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. She is best known for conducting the Wu experiment, which contradicted the hypothetical law of conservation of parity. Her expertise in experimental physics evoked comparisons to Marie Curie. Her nicknames include the "First Lady of Physics", the "Chinese Madame Curie" and the "Queen of Nuclear Research". Robeson’s text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. It depicts the life of Chien-Shiung Wu, who was born in China, where her family went against societal norms and allowed her to go to school and she fell in love with science and eventually became a physicist that was a part of the Manhattan Project. Additional information is provided at the end of the book. Huang’s illustrations are a tad simplistic, but are perfect for the target audience. The premise of the book is rather straightforward. Born over a hundred years ago, Chien-Shiung Wu was fortunate to be born in a progressive family, as girls were considered less than boys, but her parents sent her to school where she excelled in science. Eventually, she would become the preeminent physicist and helped her male colleagues win the Nobel Prize. Sadly, Chien-Shiung Wu is not well known outside the field of physics, yet contributed so much in the field. All in all, Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom is a wonderful biography of a preeminent physicist that should be more well-known – Chien-Shiung Wu, the Queen of Physics.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Fouts

    If you're a writer, this is a perfect example of a non-fiction picture book. This book tells the story of Wu Chien Shiung for young children, without being overly wordy. Wu Chien Shiung faced prejudice against women in China in the early 1900's and also racism in the US against Asians. It has a glossary of words in the back along with further suggested reading. Teresa Robeson participated in the We Need Diverse Books mentorship prgram and worked with Jane Yolen. Robeson is an excellent writer and If you're a writer, this is a perfect example of a non-fiction picture book. This book tells the story of Wu Chien Shiung for young children, without being overly wordy. Wu Chien Shiung faced prejudice against women in China in the early 1900's and also racism in the US against Asians. It has a glossary of words in the back along with further suggested reading. Teresa Robeson participated in the We Need Diverse Books mentorship prgram and worked with Jane Yolen. Robeson is an excellent writer and I look forward to reading more of her picture books.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This biography of Wu Chien Shiung touches on many themes: equality, perseverance, determination, prejudice, and courage. From when she was a little girl going to school in China (girls weren't educated 100 years ago) to her acclaimed career as a physicist (although she was passed over for the Nobel Prize three times), Chien Shiung defied norms and odds again and again, often paving the way for women and minorities in science fields in the United States. She truly was the "Queen of Physics".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    The amazing story of Wu Chien-Shiung, (Queen of Physics) who was born in China at a time when girls weren't educated. Teresa Robeson tells the story of how Wu's experiments helped her male colleagues win Nobel prizes using beautiful language. A must-read for every classroom, library, and absolutely anyone interested in girl power stories and STEM!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This is a fascinating account of how one girl, and then woman, defied the odds and changed the world. Despite being continually overlooked by white/male colleagues, she persevered and sacrificed. An incredible tale.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Murphy

    Engaging, inspiring PB biography. Teresa Robeson introduces brilliant Wu Chen Shiung & her work with beta decay, parity & how her work helped others win Nobel prizes. Woman in STEM. A wonderful book! Wu led a life of passion. She was born in China over 100 years ago when girls were not educated, yet her parents encouraged and found ways to educate Chen Shiung. Wu overcame prejudice and continued her education, local school, National Central University in China, and then traveling to Engaging, inspiring PB biography. Teresa Robeson introduces brilliant Wu Chen Shiung & her work with beta decay, parity & how her work helped others win Nobel prizes. Woman in STEM. A wonderful book! Wu led a life of passion. She was born in China over 100 years ago when girls were not educated, yet her parents encouraged and found ways to educate Chen Shiung. Wu overcame prejudice and continued her education, local school, National Central University in China, and then traveling to United States. Immersed herself in study. - first woman instructor Princeton U, first woman president of The American Physical Society, etc. Glossary w analogy definitions a plus. Love to have these types of books in my classroom.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    The inspiring story of Wu Chien-Shiung, nicknamed Queen of Physics, who was born in a small town in China back when girls weren't educated, and who made her way to the United States. Teresa Robeson tells the story of how Wu's groundbreaking experiments on beta decay and parity helped her male colleagues win Nobel prizes using beautiful and lyrical language. A great read for anyone interested in the hidden history of girls and women in STEM.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, what could be more fitting than to read about a young Chinese girl - named Chien Shiung, meaning "courageous hero" - who grew to be a truly inspirational woman in the field of physics, eventually named by Newsweek as The Queen of Physics. Born in 1912 and raised by parents who ran a school for girls, Chien Shiung quickly discovered the value of learning. When she needed to further her education, she bravely left home at a young age to study As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, what could be more fitting than to read about a young Chinese girl - named Chien Shiung, meaning "courageous hero" - who grew to be a truly inspirational woman in the field of physics, eventually named by Newsweek as The Queen of Physics. Born in 1912 and raised by parents who ran a school for girls, Chien Shiung quickly discovered the value of learning. When she needed to further her education, she bravely left home at a young age to study biology, chemistry, math, and her most beloved subject, physics, all while leading classmates against those with abusive power in her homeland. Eventually moving to the U.S. in her early twenties, Chien Shiung began to study the physics of atoms, specifically beta decay, making great discoveries and helping others in the scientific field in their research and experiments. Despite the fact she was overlooked many times for the Nobel Prize for her accomplishments, Chien Shiung - called Madame Wu by her students - persevered and became a leader in her field, as well as the first woman instructor for Princeton, first woman to be elected president of The American Physical Society, and many other "firsts" and honors. Teresa Robeson's inspiring debut picture book brings Wu Chien Shiung and her love for physics to life, while not shying away from hard facts of racism, sexism, political upheavals, and other important topics. In addition, Robeson's writing allows sometimes tough-to-understand scientific ideas to be accessible to young readers, both in the story and in back matter. Huang's illustrations feature a variety of colors, softened to great effect, and helps to highlight both Chien Shiung's amazing life and the scientific principles she loved so dearly.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maria Marshall

    This book features determined woman whose efforts not only changed our understanding of physics but paved a path for women scientists. A beautiful biography that is a tribute to a brilliant and hardworking scientist and an inspiration for children to work hard and follow their dreams. The illustration's muted colors and collage style work well with the spare text to express the joy Wu Chien Shiung felt studying and investigating physics. At each stage, of her life and career, she countered This book features determined woman whose efforts not only changed our understanding of physics but paved a path for women scientists. A beautiful biography that is a tribute to a brilliant and hardworking scientist and an inspiration for children to work hard and follow their dreams. The illustration's muted colors and collage style work well with the spare text to express the joy Wu Chien Shiung felt studying and investigating physics. At each stage, of her life and career, she countered prejudice and barriers with grace and determination, as she push past the slights and disappointments and become the "Queen of Physics." This remarkable 48-page biography will enhance any nonfiction collection and is sure to inspire others to follow their passions, despite the hard work and setbacks, and fulfill their dreams.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    This book made me straight-up cry at work. Lady scientists had to work so hard! And fight against so much bullshit! And they never got the recognition they deserved! (The section where Wu Chien Shiung's research helped not one but two groups of men win a Nobel prize... both of which she was excluded from... FURIOUS TEARS.) This is also a fabulous example of the craft of picture books! The images support the text, there aren't too many words, the whole thing flows. There's even a list of This book made me straight-up cry at work. Lady scientists had to work so hard! And fight against so much bullshit! And they never got the recognition they deserved! (The section where Wu Chien Shiung's research helped not one but two groups of men win a Nobel prize... both of which she was excluded from... FURIOUS TEARS.) This is also a fabulous example of the craft of picture books! The images support the text, there aren't too many words, the whole thing flows. There's even a list of references at the end, which all children's nonfiction should have in my opinion. Strongly recommend this book, and I'm going to lobby to put it on our APAHM booklist for 2019.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Mealey

    Inspiring and entertaining, sprinkled with lyrical language and STEM science insights, Teresa Robeson masterfully portrays a heroine heretofore hidden from history in QUEEN OF PHYSICS. Wu Chien-Shiung, nicknamed Queen of Physics, was born in China when girls weren't educated, seized upon every available educational opportunity, and eventually came to the United States. Wu's groundbreaking experiments on beta decay and parity were critical to her male colleagues' success as Nobel prize winners. A Inspiring and entertaining, sprinkled with lyrical language and STEM science insights, Teresa Robeson masterfully portrays a heroine heretofore hidden from history in QUEEN OF PHYSICS. Wu Chien-Shiung, nicknamed Queen of Physics, was born in China when girls weren't educated, seized upon every available educational opportunity, and eventually came to the United States. Wu's groundbreaking experiments on beta decay and parity were critical to her male colleagues' success as Nobel prize winners. A captivating story of persistence, brilliance and dedication.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joana Pastro

    What a gem! I loved this book by Teresa Robeson and illustrated by Rebecca Huang. I’m amazed by Wu Chien Shiung’s journey to becoming a respected and accomplished physicist in a time when women weren’t allowed much space within the scientific world. This book inspires not only young readers, but all of us to pursue our dreams, and that with hard work anything is possible! Empowering and uplifting, this is a must read. A great addition to any library!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Reshamad

    Children's Picture book biography, elementary and middle grade readers Great addition to your biography reading. Diverse topic and very interesting narrative on how a bold and courageous lady from China made her way into a very male world of science and even tougher subject of Physics. Fascinating to read her journey, her challenges and her sheer love for the subject. HIGHLY recommend reading for younger readers but also for middle graders who would love to read a diverse personality.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Lucianovic

    I love this lyrical, informative, and fascinating celebration of Wu Chien Shiung. We need more books just like this that tell us more about the unheralded women of color in history (and in the present). I specifically loved learning how supportive Wu Chien Shiung's parents were of her and her education. What a marvelous biography and one that should be used as a mentor text for all NF bio authors.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Grodzicki

    Wu Chien Shiung was born in the early 1900s, a time when girls were not considered as smart as boys. With teaching and encouragement from her parents, she worked hard and pursued her love of science. Nicknamed the "Queen of Physics" by Newsweek, Madame Wu conducted many difficult experiments that other scientists were unable to do. This uplifting biography of this extraordinary woman is sure to inspire young readers to follow their dreams.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Richard Ho

    This picture book biography of Wu Chien Shiung is both informative and inspiring. Author Teresa Robeson deftly relates the life story of this remarkable scientist, from her early love of science as a young girl in China to her triumphs (albeit largely unrecognized) as a preeminent physicist in America. Wu's accomplishments teach a wonderful lesson to young readers: don't let any ceilings, glass or otherwise, stop you from growing into the person you wish to be!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robin Newman

    Teresa Robeson has written a beautiful book about Wu Chien's Shiung's journey to becoming the preeminent physicist of her time, only to be denied much of the recognition she deserved because she was an Asian woman. I hope this book will help share Wu Chien Shiung's incredible scientific accomplishments, and inspire the next generation of physicists to have the courage not to give up when faced with adversity. Great STEM choice!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Johnson

    I had never heard of Wu Chien Shiung so what a delight to discover this amazing lady. Passed over three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and still she persisted to solve Physics problems. I feel bad for her not hardly seeing her parents. Thank you, Teresa, for introducing this talented scientist to the masses to inspire children, especially girls and minorities to always follow their dreams. A great introduction to physics for kids too.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura Roettiger

    When you find a picture book biography about someone who is important in the world of science, but have never heard of her before, it’s an opportunity to not only learn about her contributions, but also the sexism and racism that explains why her name is unfamiliar. Well written on many levels and an excellent resource for teaching.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Hudson

    An incredible story about Wu Chien Shiung's journey in life. The amazing odds she faced and conquered are told with awesome pictures and great storytelling in this picture book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Viviane Elbee

    Great book about a woman scientist who helped unlock the secrets of the atom. Kids enjoyed it. Best for kids who love stories about science & scientists.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Mcavoy

    Excellent, well-illustrated biography of a profoundly brave and brilliant physicist who performed the experiments that led to 3 Nobel prizes, none of which were awarded to her.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Kerstein

    What a wonderful, important story about a seldom-recognized, though incredibly strong and brilliant scientist. This is a must-read, and a necessary addition to any school library!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura Namey

    This book is fascinating and well-written. I learned so much about Wu Chien! A must for every picturebook shelf and classroom library. The illustrations are stunning. Well done!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shauna

    There’s nothing like a picture book biography to introduce young readers (or any readers!) to a new hero. Wu Chien Shiung was a brilliant young girl at a time when that wasn’t always appreciated. Her parents encouraged her to pursue her scientific studies anyway. She grew up to face even more prejudice as a Chinese woman in the US. I love how Robeson points out the physicist’s sadness, disappointment, and discouragement…and the fact that she didn’t let those things get in the way of her passion. There’s nothing like a picture book biography to introduce young readers (or any readers!) to a new hero. Wu Chien Shiung was a brilliant young girl at a time when that wasn’t always appreciated. Her parents encouraged her to pursue her scientific studies anyway. She grew up to face even more prejudice as a Chinese woman in the US. I love how Robeson points out the physicist’s sadness, disappointment, and discouragement…and the fact that she didn’t let those things get in the way of her passion. A fantastic bio about a woman in STEM and her family’s love.

  27. 5 out of 5

    kevin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meg Leader

  29. 4 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anne

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