The genius of Leonardo da Vinci is most famously known through his masterpieces of art and sculpture. Also remarkable are the achievements he made in mathematics, engineering, anatomy, geology, physics, music, military technology, and aeronautics (among others). He was without peer during his lifetime, and still visionary for the distant future.
Leonardo jotted down his radical ideas in thousands of notebook pages, also known as codices. He produced one codex inspired by his direct observation on flying birds, from 1505-1506. The Codex on the Flight of Birds embodies the most advanced and natural state of Da Vinci’s studies on flight.
He was fascinated by the possibility of human mechanical flight and produced more than 35,000 words and 500 sketches regarding the nature of air, bird flight, and flying machines. In this codex, his observations and early concepts would lead to the first successful airplane at the start of the twentieth century.
Leonardo’s Great Kite is one of his famous creations. Despite the lack of complete drawings of his flying machines, his notes described in great detail the dimensions, materials list, shape, and how it would work. His notebook was devoted to the construction and use of the machine. The Great Kite would be crafted of canvas wings, pulleys, and an indispensable tail to control the machine. He calculated the wing span measured around 30 arm’s lengths (52-ish feet).
If you’re looking for a bite-sized project, you can build your very own Great Kite articulated model, inspired by his magnificent notebooks.
Try It: Great Kite Poetry
Imagine you traveled back in time and became Leonardo Da Vinci’s closest friend in 1505. He invites you over to see his flying machine, The Great Kite. He asks your opinion on the potential of human flight and what improvements he should consider to make it a possibility. Write a poem of your interaction with your genius bff.
From a recent poetry prompt, we are delighted to highlight a poem Rick shared with us:
—by Rick Maxson
Photo by 1911 Jourdan. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland