Leonardo da Vinci painted two of the best known paintings in the world: Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. In addition to his magnificent work as an artist, Leonardo designed inventions that are familiar to us today, almost 400 years later.

Leonardo sketched and wrote about his inventions in notebooks. Most of his ideas could not be made into working objects during his lifetime. Engineering was a new science and many of his designs were technically complicated.

These are six of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions:

In the Air:

Glider — Leonardo’s glider design looks similar to both a bird in flight and a modern hang glider. Leonardo studied birds as he worked on his design.

Helical Screw — This is Leonardo’s design for an early type of helicopter. Four men inside operated the screw. It would compress air to fly just like helicopters do today. 

Parachute — Leonardo imagined floating through the air using a parachute. Designed to be made of linen and wood, his parachute had a triangular shape.

Anemometer — Leonardo designed this instrument to measure wind speed. Anemometers are used at weather stations today.

Under Water:

Scuba Gear — Leonardo designed a leather suit with a head covering attached to two tubes. The tubes connected to an above water diving bell. The diver would breathe air from the water’s surface through the tubes. Today, scuba divers breathe air from the tanks they carry underwater. Early divers used Leonardo’s method.

On Land:

Tank — Leonardo turned again to the natural world for this design. A turtle shell inspired it. The tank’s design provided for a 360 degree rotation.  Four men inside would operate the tank with hand cranks while other men would fire the weapons. Modern tanks first appeared in World War I.


To see these and more of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions visit: http://www.da-vinci-inventions.com/

Books For Kids:

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci

by Gene Barretta

Who Was Leonardo da Vinci?

by Roberta Edwards, Illustrated by True Kelley

Leonardo da Vinci

by Diane Stanley

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