Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking (1942–) is a brilliant scientist who has taught us many things about our solar system and the universe. He is famous for his groundbreaking research, as well as his bestselling books that help to simplify the complex world of cosmology. Stephen also has a debilitating disease that has left him paralysed. Although told he had only two years to live, he defied the doctors and has spent over five decades transforming our view of space and time. Find out more about this remarkable man and use our collection of printable resources to check out your knowledge.

Fun facts: Stephen was born on 8th January 1942 – the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo (a famous Italian scientist who has been called ‘the father of modern science’). Stephen enjoyed maths and science from an early age. His school friends gave him the nickname ‘Einstein’!

Stephen Hawking

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
Stephen Hawking

A Short Biography of Stephen Hawking

Stephen was born in 1942, during the Second World War. His parents lived in London at the time, but Stephen’s mother went to Oxford to have her child in safety. Stephen’s parents were well educated. They loved science and learning and had both been to Oxford University.

Stephen was the eldest of four children. When he was eight, the family moved to St Albans. Stephen did well at school and had a natural interest in science. He wanted to study maths at Oxford University, but there was no maths course at the time, so Stephen chose physics. After he graduated, Stephen went to Cambridge University to study for a PhD in cosmology.

While he was at university, Stephen’s health began to deteriorate. He noticed his speech was slurring and he became clumsy. Shortly after his 21st birthday, doctors discovered he had a disease called ALS. The nerves that controlled his muscles were breaking down, and his chances of survival were slim.

Stephen felt depressed but was then determined to make the most of the life he had left. He worked very hard to finish his PhD. When writing became difficult, he began to visualise and solve problems in his mind. Some people think this led to some of his greatest discoveries. Stephen had also recently fallen in love with a fellow student, Jane Wilde, which gave him another reason to live. They married soon afterwards and went on to have three children together.

Stephen’s disease has gradually paralysed him. He can no longer walk or talk, and is confined to a wheelchair. But, to the amazement of doctors, he has survived more than 50 years since his diagnosis. Science and modern medicine have also improved his quality of life. He now uses a computerised voice system to talk. He used to operate this with his finger, but he now uses a muscle in his cheek.

Despite his disabilities, Stephen has had an extraordinary research career. His studies have helped to prove how the universe started, and his research of black holes and space-time theories have challenged the work of other scientists. He is famous for discovering that black holes give off radiation (known as Hawking radiation), for example. Scientists used to think that nothing could escape a black hole’s enormous pull of gravity, but Stephen showed that over a long period of time, a black hole will eventually evaporate and disappear. Stephen also believes that time travel is possible, and that one day people might live on other planets in the universe.

When Stephen published A Brief History of Time in 1988, his bestselling book brought astronomy to the lives of ordinary people. Stephen hopes to travel to space himself one day and has already trained with NASA. His determination in life has overcome the most difficult of obstacles, and he sets his bars high: "My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

Our Stephen Hawking Resources

A Letter to Stephen Hawking Worksheet

A Letter to Stephen Hawking Worksheet

Imagine you are young scientist just getting started on your career. Write a letter to Stephen Hawking asking him for his advice, and telling him your plans...  

Learn To Draw Stephen Hawking

Learn To Draw Stephen Hawking

This is quite a challenging "learn to draw" tutorial, but as Stephen Hawking is a hero and role model for many children, we think they may want to perservere and learn to draw their own picture of this great scientist.

Stephen Hawking Comprehension

Stephen Hawking Comprehension

Read our short biography of Stephen Hawking and then answer the questions. You could read the biography together and then print just the third page for the children to answer the questions - or leave the children to read it themselves.

Stephen Hawking Fact Sheet

Stephen Hawking Fact Sheet

This 2 page printable provides a brief introduction to the life of Stephen Hawking. It's a good place to start for a project, perhaps...

Stephen Hawking Interview Worksheet

Stephen Hawking Interview Worksheet

This fun worksheet asks the children to imagine that they are a talk show host and have the opportunity to interview Stephen Hawking. Rather than coming up with their own questions, we ask them to think about what the audience might like to hear ...

Stephen Hawking Newsletter Writing Prompt

Stephen Hawking Newsletter Writing Prompt

Stephen Hawking has made the news again! What might he have discovered this time? Children can use this fun newspaper worksheet to practice their journalistic skills!

Stephen Hawking Notebooking Page

Stephen Hawking Notebooking Page

Useful for taking notes and writing down everything you have learned, our Stephen Hawking notebooking page comes in two versions - one with space for a picture or diagram, and one ruled throughout.

Stephen Hawking Poster

Stephen Hawking Poster

For younger children, here is a simple cartoon poster of a young Stephen Hawking, giving a lecture, perhaps about the universe!

Stephen Hawking Quote Poster

Stephen Hawking Quote Poster

There is so much good advice and inspiration for children in this quote from Stephen Hawking, one of our greatest scientists. In his life he has had ample opportunity to give up, but has never done so - and he teaches us by his example and these brave words.

Stephen Hawking Quote Worksheet

Stephen Hawking Quote Worksheet

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." This worksheet asks the children to consider this well-known Stephen Hawking comment and think about what he meant by it. It's an interestting one to discuss!

Stephen Hawking Story Paper

Stephen Hawking Story Paper

This story paper might be useful for younger kids to write down what they have learned about Stephen Hawking, to write him a letter or to copy down some of his words of wisdom...

Stephen Hawking Worksheet

Stephen Hawking Worksheet

Our Stephen Hawking worksheet, for younger children, prompts them to find out some interesting facts about the scientist and think about what they would wish to discuss with him if they were lucky enough to get the chance!

Stephen Hawking Writing Page

Stephen Hawking Writing Page

Here's some useful writing paper for taking notes, summarising what you have learned, or for your Stephen Hawking project in general.

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