Teacher's Guide for ODYSSEYTM Looking at Leonardo's Science
Article / Page
"Leonardo: Engineer, Anatomist, Painter. . .Magician?", pg. 6
"Eavesdropping on a Renaissance Conversation," pg. 12
- The ultimate "Renaissance Man," Leonardo da Vinci could do it all. An overview of his accomplishments reveals the genius of this "first scientist." Read an interview with one of Leonardo""'s biographers on page 8.
- Vocabulary, Critical Thinking, Application
"Making Mountains: The Medieval and Modern Geology of Leonardo da Vinci," pg. 14
- You are a lucky time traveler. Listen in as Leonardo argues philosophy and technique with his contemporary, Michelangelo.
- Characterization, Comparison / Contrast
"Body Science: The Art of Anatomy," pg. 19
- Long before geologists understood erosion, plate tectonics, and the water
cycle, Leonardo believed that the earth changed and water cycled. How did he
know? From the fossil record, of course!
- Critical Thinking, Inductive Reasoning
"Drawing on Science" (Activity to Discover), pg. 24
- Lonely hours of dissection and careful observation revealed themselves in
Leonardo's amazing sketches of the human skeleton, organs, and muscle. His
drawings offered multiple perspectives and "see through" views. An activity (pg. 22) lets modern investigators check the master's measurements.
- Observation, Measurement
"Paint the Sky Blue,", pg. 26
- Not long before Leonardo began to paint, architects and mathematicians had
figured out a way to create the look of depth and distance on a flat surface.
Follow their techniques to capture the look of three dimensions while using
- Measurement, Following Directions
"Flights of Fancy," pg. 28
- Leonardo attempted to explain why the sky looks blue. His hypothesis was
wrong, so the real story is revealed.
- Drawing Conclusions, Deductive Reasoning
"What a Backward Guy!" (Activity to Discover), pg. 32
- It was perhaps his greatest dream, but human flight eluded Leonardo. Follow
his thinking to see the power (and limits) of careful observation. A sidebar (pg. 30) shows Leonardo""'s designs for a helicopter, glider, and parachute.
- Inductive and Deductive Reasoning
"From the Notebooks of Leonardo" (Activity to Discover), pg. 34
- Whether Leonardo wrote backward as a form of code or because he was
left-handed, his writing inspires two challenging activities for
forward-thinking writers today.
- Following Directions
"Brain Strain: Leonardo's Problem," pg. 39
- A portable battle bridge, a monster pulley, and a weather station: Build models of these devices directly from Leonardo's plans.
- Following Directions
"What's Up? (Planet Watch and Backyard Observations)," pg. 40
- Can five 9s equal 1000? Leonardo doesn't think so, but with the right symbols in the right places . . . well, who knows?
- Following Directions, Deductive Reasoning
Think Tank (Discussion Starters to Use Before Reading the Magazine):
- If you're lucky, you can see Mercury in the morning sky and use a telescope to find Uranus in the evening, but the real show in November is the meteor showers. The Taurids are at their best on the 9th, and the Leonids peak on the 17th.
- Observation, Following Directions
Classroom "Syzygy": Talk, Connect, Assess
- Name as many famous inventors as you can. Tell what you know about their
lives. What did they invent? What about Leonardo da Vinci? What inventions do
you think can be attributed to him? If you ranked the top five inventors of
all time, where would Leonardo fit on your list?
- How do you come up with ideas? Do you have a routine, a special setting,
or a type of music that helps you to think creatively? Can people learn to become better idea generators? If yes, how?
Pg. 6 - "Leonardo: Engineer, Anatomist, Painter . . . Magician?"
Far Out!: Moving Beyond the Magazine
pg. 19 - "Body Science: The Art of Anatomy"
- Talk It Over:
- A "Renaissance Man" (or woman) is someone who excels in both the arts and the sciences. In what ways was Leonardo a Renaissance Man? Do such people exist today? Can you name any?
- Was Leonardo a success or a failure? What does your answer imply about
your definition of "success"? Share definitions and points of view.
- History: Research events that occurred during Leonardo's lifetime. Did his time affect his interests or activities? Make a poster showing the connections between world events and da Vinci""'s achievements.
- Technology: Reread the section "Super-Vision and Virtual Reality" on pgs. 10 ""- 11. How do cameras and computers today achieve the same tasks that Leonardo accomplished with his "super-vision"? What other connections can you see between Leonardo's work and modern technologies? Use a Venn diagram to show the similarities and differences between da Vinci's methods and modern imaging devices.
- Visual Arts: From memory, draw an accurate map of one room of your house or apartment, as if looking down from above. Make sure you include doors and furniture in their proper locations. Next, measure the room and the objects in it and make an accurate drawing, to scale, again from the top-down view. How do the two drawings compare?
- Student Assessment:
- Imagine you are Leonardo da Vinci and you want to work for the Duke of
Florence. He""'s turned you down once, but you are determined to succeed with a
second application. Write the Duke a letter asking for a job. Detail your skills, background, and qualifications in such a factual and convincing way that he""'ll be sure to hire you this time.
- Write and deliver a speech to Congress calling for the establishment of
April 15th (the great man""'s birthday) as Leonardo da Vinci Day. Support your proposal with a clearly worded and convincing argument.
- Talk It Over:
- Anatomical art has always been a highly specialized field, and anatomical artists are much in demand. Why? What aspects of the human body can be better seen in drawings than in photographs? In your view, will medical imaging
techniques ever make anatomical art obsolete?
- Why did Leonardo want to dissect and chart the workings of the human body? Why do scientists and students continue such work today? What are the
- Graphic Arts: Leonardo dissected about 30 corpses in his efforts to understand the structures and functions of the human body. Imagine yourself an exobiologist, studying alien life forms on another planet. Pretend that you have dissected and studied corpses of a life form that lives there. Present a series of sketches similar to Leonardo's, showing either some muscle tissue or the internal organs of your subjects.
- Mathematics: Complete the measurements called for on page 22. Continue to measure many other aspects of the human body. Compare your measurements with similar measurements of other students in your class. Look for patterns. Do any relationships point to predictive formulas like those Leonard devised? If you see any patterns, test your formula on as many people as you can to see if it works.
- Art History: Study paintings of the Renaissance and earlier times. Find some in which the people do not look realistic. Photocopy them and try to pinpoint the inaccuracies that make the forms look distorted. Label problem areas on photocopies and compare those forms with Leonardo""'s perfectly
measured and proportional ones.
- Student Assessment:
- In an essay of two paragraphs, describe the innovations Leonardo brought to his anatomical drawings. Explain two means of drawing the human form that were innovative and make clear what those innovative techniques revealed.
- Take one of two sides: Either you are an associate of Leonardo's appearing at a hospital asking the doctor and family for permission to use a corpse for Leonardo's dissections, or you are trying to stop Leonardo from continuing
his work on cadavers. Write the outline for a persuasive speech and deliver
it to the class.
(with subtitles that might have appeared in Leonardo's notebooks)
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Whole-Class Project: Leonardo da Vinci invented the chains and gears used on bicycles. He invented the monkey wrench, rotisserie oven, diving snorkel,
submarine, machine gun, rocket, air conditioning, and more! In your library
and on the Internet, find Leonardo""'s plans and notes for these inventions and build scale (working?) models. Organize an exhibit of Leonardo""'s inventions for your school and community.
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Community Connection: Invite representatives of a local art or photography club to visit your class and display samples of visual images that illustrate the rules of perspective. With your guests, discuss how painters and
photographers can compose, balance, and light their pictures to enhance the
illusions of depth and distance.
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Small-Group Collaborative Competition: Look again at the helicopter, glider, and parachute on page 30. Work in teams of three or four students to design a workable prototype of one of the machines, using simple materials available at school or from home. In the competition, see whose glider can coast the longest and whose parachute can fall the slowest. For the helicopter competition, consider one of two possibilities: Like the parachute, measure the helicopter which falls the slowest; or drop the helicopters over a fan (running at slow speed) and see which is the most "airworthy."
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Small-Group Presentation: Break the class into groups of three or four. Ask each team to recreate a segment of Leonardo's journal, based on one of the topics treated in this issue. Write the journal in the style of da Vinci""'s notebooks, revealing both his thought processes and details of his discoveries or inventions. You may want to present your journal entries in mirror script or use a quill pen dipped in ink on parchment-style paper for added effect.