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Home > teachers > Art and Design  > We Love This New Da Vinci Website

We Love This New Da Vinci Website

June 20 2006

Do you know who the Da Vinci part of the famous book and film, 'The Da Vinci Code' is?

Or rather 'was', because Leonardo da Vinci (his full name) was born in Italy in 1452 and died in 1519.

'The Da Vinci Code' is all about a made-up mystery but Leonardo had a few secrets of his own in real life too...

We wanted to show you this great new website called Universal Leonardo. There's all the lowdown on the man himself, plus some fab games! (More on those later.)

Screenshot from Universal Leonardo showing a drawing of the inside of a head by Leonardo DaVinci and his painting the Mona Lisa. The painting shows her upper body. She has her arms folded and is looking at the viewer. She wears a dark, long-sleeved dress and her hair is dark too.

Leonardo was an artist. His painting called the Mona Lisa is very famous.

Here she is on the left. No-one's sure whether she's happy or sad. What do you think?

Take a closer look at Mona Lisa on Universal Leonardo and see what you think.

© Universal Leonardo

As well as being a painter, Leonardo was also an inventor. He wouldn't let anyone see his work though, in case they pinched his ideas.

Leonardo was fascinated by flight. You can see his plans for a glider he invented on the British Library website.

© British Library

Screenshot from the British Library showing Leonardo Da Vinci's drawing of a glider and his coded notes.

Screenshot showing Leonardo Da Vinci's signature written backwards with a feather and ink on paper.

Leonardo wrote all his notes down in a special code to keep them secret.

It's called mirror writing, where you write backwards, from right to left.

You can try a bit of mirror writing yourself with this game from Universal Leonardo.

© Universal Leonardo

Leonardo designed many flying machines like the glider above. He wanted to be able to fly like a bird.

Fancy testing his flying machines? Go to the Fly like a bird, sink like a stone game to test his theories. Just click on Play when you get through.

© Universal Leonardo

Screenshot showing copies of Leonardo's flying machines and a section from the information on the game you can play to fly his machines.

Screenshot showing a section from Leonardo's notebook with a drawing and some of his notes in mirror writing.

The British Library has put one of Leonardo's notebooks online. You can flick through and see his sketches and mirror writing for yourself.

Just click on Sketches by Leonardo and that'll take you to his drawings. It'll take a minute to load up but the wait is worth it.

© British Library

Did you know that Da Vinci also invented the aeroplane, submarine, parachute and even the car? But it was hundreds of years before they were finally made.

Why not make your own glider using handy tips from the site?

Just don't fly it around in class or you'll be in trouble!

© Universal Leonardo

Screenshot showing a part of a glider you can make with a cut-off section of the instructions.

Showing part of a child's drawing of his invention of a portable water maker.

Have you ever invented something? Perhaps Leonardo has inspired you to have a go? If so, we'd love to hear from you - why not Get in Touch?

Show Me surfer Patrick sent in his amazing invention. Here's a sneak preview of it (left).

Can you guess what it is? To find out, take a closer look here. Leonardo would have been proud Patrick.

We've still got some prizes to give out, including some fab science books, so get your plans in and you may be lucky. Happy inventing!

Rachel Hayward