Da Vincis Vitruvian Man
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Design Challenges and Suggested Materials

Leonardo's Challenges

  • Design a gripping device at the end of a rope that will automatically lock onto a load when it is lifted, but will automatically release when the load reaches its destination.
  • Design a machine to push away the scaling ladders of invaders trying to get inside a castle without exposing the castle dwellers to danger.
  • Design a machine that allows a person to make giant wings flap by pedaling with his/her feet.

Modern Challenges

  • Design a machine that pours standard amounts of cereal and milk into a bowl. (The group will need to decide what these amounts should be.)
  • Design a machine to trap squirrels who visit a bird feeder and release them safely on the other side of a wall.
  • Design a machine to automate the process of squeezing toothpaste onto a toothbrush.

Be Inventive! Suggested Materials for Models:

  • String
  • Masking tape
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic straws
  • Dowels or pencils
  • Weights
  • Rubber bands
  • Brass fasteners
  • Pulleys or spools to make them from
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Small pieces of wood or craft sticks
  • A variety of boxes for supports and containers
  • Paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Students may find gears, pulleys, and other machine elements in toys such as Legos®, K’NEX®, and Tinker Toys®