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Louis Pasteur Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

This lesson will introduce you about Louis Pasteur, one of the most well-known scientists. It describes his life and some of his discoveries, which continue to shape science and medicine today.

Who is Louis Pasteur?

Have you ever taken out a carton of orange juice or milk and seen the funny-looking word 'pasteurized?' The word is actually talking about a process invented by Louis Pasteur, a famous scientist. Pasteur's life also teaches us about the importance of not giving up and working hard.

Pasteur was born in 1822 in Dole, France. Surprisingly, Pasteur's schoolwork was not great, but he loved drawing pictures. Later on, he began to do very well in science, especially chemistry, and received a doctorate in sciences in 1847. Soon after, Pasteur got married. He became partially paralyzed when he was 45 years old, and his health was a problem for the rest of his life.

Pasteur taught at many universities and he received the highest award in France, the Legion of Honor, for his work. The Pasteur Institute in Paris opened in 1888. He died in 1895. If you search the internet, you'll find many schools, hospitals, and streets around the world named for him.

Statue of Louis Pasteur
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Louis Pasteur's Early Work

Pasteur started out as a chemist and made some important discoveries about molecules, the smallest building blocks that make up everything.

Local alcohol producers came to Pasteur to ask for help with making beer and wine, which happens from a chemical change. Pasteur started to realize that tiny living things were causing this change, and he figured out how heating the wine and beer could kill the living things and keep the drink from going bad. This process is used today to make milk and juice safe to drink. This explains the word 'pasteurization' on the cartons!

Pasteur solved another major issue when disease started killing off the silkworms that make silk in France. Even though Pasteur had no experience with silkworms, he got to work trying to figure out the problem. He researched silkworms for five years and learned how to keep the healthy ones alive. Silk producers still use Pasteur's approach today.

Painting of Louis Pasteur at Work
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Louis Pasteur and the Study of Disease

Pasteur began to understand that the chemical changes that happen in food and diseases are caused by microorganisms, living things that are so small that you need a microscope to see them. These include germs that can give you a cold.

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