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Alfred Nobel Lesson for Kids: Biography, Inventions & Facts

Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

Have you heard of the Nobel Prizes? Alfred Nobel, the man behind these impressive awards, led an interesting life. Come learn about what he accomplished during his life and after his death.

Young Life

Alfred Nobel almost didn't get the education and knowledge he needed to create his most famous invention. Once his circumstances changed, he went down a path that allowed him to make many contributions to mankind. During his lifetime, he achieved the titles of inventor, engineer, chemist, and business owner.

The story of Alfred Nobel began in Stockholm, Sweden, where he was born on October 21, 1833. His father, Immanuel, was also an inventor and businessman and inspired much of Nobel's work. His mother, Andriette, encouraged his love of learning and cared for her son when he was sick, which was often.

Nobel was born into a very poor family, but when he was four years old, his father accepted a job in Russia to remedy that situation. The rest of the family remained in Stockholm, and his father would send money back to support them.

Eventually, in 1842, Nobel's family was reunited when they joined his father in Russia. By this time, his father had built a successful company building weapons for Russia. Now they had money and access to a good education. Alfred and his siblings were taught by some of the best tutors, so his learning flourished, especially in chemistry and foreign languages. At 16, Nobel's father sent him to Paris and the United States to continue his studies.

Alfred Nobel
picture of Alfred Nobel

Adult Life

At 19, Nobel returned to Russia to work at his father's company, which was struggling. His father tried to invent weapons that used an explosive other than gunpowder. He found that nitroglycerin, a very explosive substance, was much more powerful than gunpowder, but was also very dangerous to work with as it would explode easily. Nobel also learned about nitroglycerin while in Paris.

After his father's business closed, Nobel went with his parents back to Sweden where he continued experimenting with nitroglycerin.

Working with Nitroglycerin

In 1863, Nobel began making nitroglycerin to sell to companies involved in building and railroad construction. A setback occurred in 1864, when an explosion in one of his laboratories killed five employees, including his younger brother.

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