Friday, May 16, 2008

Copernicus was a Pole

Astronomer Copernicus was born in Poland. I guess I should have known this. However, I am not alone. A recent contestant on the American TV show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? thought that he might have been born in Italy. He decided to stop at $100,000 rather than risk losing the money. His 5th Grade guide also thought the answer was Italy.

I have to admit my answer would have been Italy. My only doubt was perhaps that the answer was Germany instead. Wrong! Wikipedia notes, "Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in a house on St. Anne's Street (now Copernicus Street) in the city of Toruń (Thorn). Toruń was situated on the Vistula River in the Royal Prussia region of the Kingdom of Poland."

So, how many 5th graders know this? This is a good trivia but not something that most 5th Grade students (outside of Poland!) would know. Hey, I have four college degrees (three graduate) and history is one of my passions. I was still way off. I think the producers of this show cherry pick questions that maybe some 5th Graders are exposed to but would still be tough for just about anyone.

Or maybe I should have flunked out in the 5th Grade...


Rebecca said...

Not many people know this. I didn't know that Copernicus was Polish until I actually visited Poland.

Thanks for pointing out that little known fact!


smellincoffee said...

I would have guessed Germany, as well.I supposed it depends on how Prussian "Royal Prussia" was.

Kyleen said...

Being of Polish heritage I attended a Polish Roman Catholic elementary school. I learned early on that he was Polish. But I can see where people might think that he was Italian or German.

M-Dawg said...

The only reason why I know he's Polish is that I teach about Copernicus in my Scientific Revolution unit in World History. I have an informational worksheet that I have my students read and answer questions about Coperincus.

So, my 9th graders know he's a Polish too. :-)