Dmitri Mendeleev was born in Siberia on Feb. 8, 1834. He was the youngest of 17 children. His dad went blind when Dmitri was 13 and his mum became the breadwinner by opening a glass factory. This unfortunately burned to the ground in 1848, the same year in which Dmitri’s dad died.
By the age of 14, Dmitri showed great promise in science (who knows what his older brothers and sisters did!) His mum was determined to see that he got a good education. In 1850, Dmitri and his mum walked to Moscow, (about the distance from Bluff to Auckland!) so that Dmitri could apply to University. He didn’t get accepted to University in Moscow, so the two walked to St. Petersburg (about the distance of a return trip between Wellington and Hastings) where Dmitri was admitted to the Institute of Pedagogy at the age of 16 on full scholarship. That same year Dmitri’s mum died at the age of 59!