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Exploring the Vitruvian Man (CS40)

Learning Scenario Description
TitleExploring the Vitruvian Man
Creator         Nikos Zygouritsas
Main Idea / DescriptionThis activity is designed for middle school students and follows the Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) methodology. The topic chosen for this activity is the Vitruvian Man of Leonardo da Vinci.
Target Group Students aged 14-16 years old
Curriculum & Learning SubjectsScience, ICT, Art, Biology, Math, Geometry
CompetenciesLearning Objectives:
In this activity, students:
– learn about Leonardo Da Vinci and his work
– learn to collaborate
– learn to communicate
– learn to work in groups
Teachers’ Wellness Competences – Emotional e-awareness
– Social e-competency 
– Emotional leadership/ e-mediacy
Learning Scenario Framework
Pedagogical Method– PI1. Emphasising strengths (Lean on your strengths and have a positive mindset)
– PI3. Enforcing attention and Awareness (Be attentive and aware)
– PI4. Relationships support (Support and work well with others)
– PI5. Learning resilience (Learn to cope and become resilient)
– PI6. Encouraging engagement (Engage students in self-directed and dedicated learning)
– PI8.  Focusing on Sense of purpose (Have a voice and be active)
Software & Materials – Internet connection
– Internet Browser
– Presentation Application (Microsoft Powerpoint)
– Design Software
Evaluation Tools– Worksheets: Teachers can assess students through the completion of worksheets and/or online questionnaires
– Students’ work: Teachers can assess the work of the students, their presentations, artwork.
Learning Scenario Implementation
Learning Activities (Description, duration, worksheets         worksheets   etc.)The Learning Scenario can take several sessions of 45 minutes.It is presented as a learning activity here: The teacher starts the activity by posing relevant questions:
– What do you know about Leonardo da Vinci?
– And his contributions to art and science?
– What do you know about the Vitruvian Man?

The teacher then continues with providing information on the Vitruvian Man.
The historical background and context of the Vitruvian Man:
The Renaissance Era
The Vitruvian Man was produced during the Renaissance, a period of profound cultural, artistic, and intellectual rebirth that spanned roughly from the 14th to the 17th century. This era marked a shift from the medieval to the modern world, characterized by a renewed interest in classical antiquity, humanism, and scientific exploration.
Vitruvius and Architectural Influence
The drawing is named after Vitruvius, an ancient Roman architect and engineer who wrote “De architectura,” a treatise on architecture. Vitruvius argued that buildings should be designed based on the proportions of the human body. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man embodies this idea, suggesting that the human body can serve as a model for architectural design. Thus, the drawing connects the Renaissance to the classical architectural principles of Vitruvius.
Humanism and the Study of Antiquity
The Renaissance was a period of humanism, which emphasized the value of human beings and their achievements. Renaissance scholars and artists were deeply interested in the knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome. Leonardo’s drawing reflects this humanist spirit by harking back to the classical ideals of proportion and balance.
Scientific Exploration and Anatomical Studies
Leonardo da Vinci was not only an artist but also a scientist and anatomist. He conducted dissections of human cadavers, pioneering the field of anatomical illustration. His meticulous anatomical studies, which informed the Vitruvian Man, were part of a broader movement toward empirical observation and scientific inquiry during the Renaissance.
Artistic and Mathematical Renaissance
The Vitruvian Man embodies the Renaissance’s fusion of art, science, and mathematics. It illustrates Leonardo’s fascination with the mathematical and geometric underpinnings of the natural world. This interdisciplinary approach to knowledge was a hallmark of the Renaissance, and the Vitruvian Man is a quintessential example of this integration.
Leonardo’s Multidisciplinary Genius
Leonardo da Vinci, the creator of the Vitruvian Man, was a true Renaissance polymath. His diverse talents included painting, engineering, anatomy, botany, and more. The drawing reflects his insatiable curiosity and his belief that the study of nature and the human body could lead to a deeper understanding of the world.
Renaissance Italy
The drawing was created in Italy, which was at the epicenter of the Renaissance. Italian city-states like Florence and Milan were hubs of artistic and intellectual activity during this period. Leonardo’s work, including the Vitruvian Man, was shaped by the cultural and intellectual milieu of Renaissance Italy.

Inquiry Activity
Make groups of 5s
Research information about renaissance Italy
Research information on Leonardo’s contributions to science
Present your findings using the application of your choice
Let’s meet the man himself 

CONCEPTUALIZATION – Now is the phase where the teacher introduces relevant concepts and students will begin to make their hypotheses before testing them.
The Vitruvian Man, created by Leonardo da Vinci, is a remarkable representation of several scientific and mathematical principles that reflect the Renaissance’s fascination with the intersection of art, science, and mathematics. Here are some of the key scientific and mathematical principles represented in the drawing:
Proportions and Geometry
Leonardo was deeply interested in the proportions of the human body and how they related to geometry. The Vitruvian Man illustrates the concept of ideal proportions, where the lengths of various body parts are related mathematically. For instance, the outstretched arms and legs of the figure fit perfectly within both a square and a circle, demonstrating the connection between human proportions and geometric shapes.
The drawing emphasizes the symmetry of the human body. If you were to draw a line down the center of the Vitruvian Man, both sides would be perfectly symmetrical. This symmetry is a fundamental principle in both art and biology, as many organisms, including humans, exhibit bilateral symmetry.
The Golden Ratio
The Vitruvian Man’s proportions are often associated with the golden ratio, a mathematical concept that appears frequently in art, nature, and architecture. The golden ratio is approximately 1.618, and it’s believed to represent aesthetic harmony. While the Vitruvian Man doesn’t explicitly incorporate the golden ratio, its emphasis on ideal proportions aligns with the principles of aesthetic balance and harmony associated with the golden ratio.
Anthropometry is the scientific study of human measurements. The Vitruvian Man can be seen as an early attempt at anthropometry. Leonardo carefully measured and documented the proportions of the human body, seeking to understand the relationships between different body parts. This laid the foundation for later scientific studies of human anatomy.
Connection to Vitruvius
The drawing is named after the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, who wrote about architecture and human proportions in his work “De architectura.” Vitruvius proposed that architecture should be based on the proportions of the human body. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man embodies this idea, suggesting that the human body can serve as a model for architectural proportions
.Scientific Observation
Leonardo da Vinci was not only an artist but also a scientist and anatomist. His meticulous observations of the human body, reflected in the Vitruvian Man, contributed to our understanding of human anatomy. His detailed studies of muscles, bones, and organs were groundbreaking in the field of anatomy.

Inquiry activity
Make groups of 5s
Research information about a different scientific aspect of the Vitruvian Man
Present your findings, formulate an hypothesis on about the mathematics behind the work of Leonardo.
Teachers can add all the different concepts that they find interesting and important to their student’s learning journey.

Mathematical principles of the Vitruvian Man 
Proportions and the Golden Ratio
The most famous mathematical aspect of the Vitruvian Man is its association with the golden ratio, often represented by the Greek letter phi (Φ). The golden ratio is approximately 1.61803398875 and is considered a number that represents aesthetic harmony. In the Vitruvian Man, Leonardo explores the idea that the proportions of the human body align with the golden ratio. For instance, he compared the length of a man’s outstretched arms to his height and found that this ratio is approximately equal to the golden ratio.
The Square and the Circle
The drawing features a square and a circle, each with a specific mathematical relationship to the human body. The square represents the earthly aspect, with the sides of the square touching the man’s hands and feet. The circle, on the other hand, is a perfect geometric form that encompasses the man and represents the celestial or divine aspect. The positioning of the man within both shapes illustrates the idea of balance and harmony between the earthly and the divine, emphasizing the mathematical relationship between them.

Inquiry activity
Make groups of 5s
Find more information about the golden ratio.
Find examples of the golden ratio in different aspects of life

RESEARCH: Students will now conduct their researchUnderstand the legacy of the Vitruavian Man in art and science.It is time to deepen the understanding about the importance of thee Vitruavian Man:
Challenge 1: In groups of 10 search information about the importance of the Vitruavian Man
Challenge 2: Present your research on the science behind the Vitruavian Man, explaining the principles and methods.

Let’s reflect
Legacy in Art

DISCUSSION: Now that the groups have reached their conclusions, it is time to present their results to their colleagues. This is a perfect time for them to learn how to present their arguments and review what they have learned so far.
Exploration of Human Proportions:
The Vitruvian Man set a standard for the realistic depiction of the human form in art. Artists have drawn inspiration from Leonardo’s meticulous study of human proportions, seeking to capture the same sense of balance, symmetry, and harmony in their own works.
Integration of Art and Science:
Leonardo’s fusion of art and science in the Vitruvian Man opened up new avenues for artistic expression. It encouraged artists to incorporate scientific knowledge into their creative process, leading to a greater appreciation of the intersection between the two disciplines.
Mathematical and Geometric Influences:
The drawing’s use of mathematical concepts, such as the golden ratio and geometric shapes, has influenced artists interested in mathematical art. The Vitruvian Man has served as a source of inspiration for artists exploring mathematical themes in their work.Legacy in Science
Anatomy and Scientific Observation:
Leonardo da Vinci’s meticulous anatomical studies, including those represented in the Vitruvian Man, advanced the field of human anatomy. His detailed observations and illustrations of the human body contributed to a deeper understanding of human physiology and laid the groundwork for future anatomical research.
The Vitruvian Man’s emphasis on precise measurements and proportions of the human body played a significant role in the development of anthropometry, the scientific study of human measurements. Anthropometry has applications in various fields, including ergonomics, forensics, and industrial design
.Interdisciplinary Approach:
Leonardo’s multidisciplinary approach to the Vitruvian Man, combining art, anatomy, mathematics, and architecture, set a precedent for interdisciplinary research and collaboration. Today, many scientific breakthroughs occur at the intersections of multiple disciplines, and the Vitruvian Man serves as a historical example of the power of such collaborations.
Inspiration for Scientific Visualization:
The Vitruvian Man’s clear and precise visual representation of human proportions has been influential in scientific visualization. It serves as a model for creating accurate and informative diagrams and illustrations in various scientific fields.

Present your findings
Now is the time to move forward and present your findings to other groups. You are free to use any application you want to present your conclusions and discuss with your colleaguesLet’s discuss
Share your newfound knowledge and insights about the Vitruvian Man and its legacy.