This May marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. Often thought of primarily as an artist, Leonardo was also years or sometimes centuries ahead in the fields of science, maths and engineering.
Leonardo became an expert in the anatomy of the human body. The combination of science and art is found in his work Vitruvian Man, in which he developed the work of the Roman architect Vitruvius. The drawing is based on the ideal proportions of the human body and the relationship to geometry.
Taking Leonardo as an all-round STEAM ambassador, Vitruvian Man became the basis for one of our FabLab sessions. Armed with tape measures, rulers and some cards with Leonardo’s findings, we set the children off to investigate! You could even add some false statements, and ask the children to predict which ones they think are correct before they measure.
Here’s 10 of our favourites!
- a person’s foot is the width of four palms
- a person’s height is four cubits (a cubit is the distance between the tip of the middle finger and the elbow on an average person)
- the length of a person’s outspread arms is equal to their height
- a palm is the width of four fingers
- the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is one-eighth of a person’s height
- the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand is one-fifth of a person’s height
- the length of the hand is one-tenth of a person’s height
- the distance from the bottom of the chin to the nose is one-third of the length of the face
- the distance from the hairline to the eyebrows is one-third of the length of the face
- the length of the ear is one-third of the length of the face
Once we’d surprised ourselves with some of the measurements, we used strips of paper to make our own skeletons, based on Leonard’s statements. This is best done in a cleared classroom, the school hall, or in the playground on a calm day.
This was a great practical introduction to the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Give it a go – we had lots of fun!