Leonardo da Vinci Aerial Screw
9 x 9 x 14. Like the original, this model does not fly, but it does illustrate the many advanced design concepts which da Vinci used in his attempt to defy gravity.
While it is clear this helicopter-style flying machine didnt work, it has sparked the imagination of many generations as one of his iconic inventions.
It really didnt work like a helicopter, as his premise was that air, like water, was a fluid, and that one could drill into it since it had mass. If air was as thick as water then it might have worked! Not sure why he didnt try this underwater. Something about breathing underwater I guess (but he did have drawings for a submersible breathing apparatus!)
Helicopters actually work on the principle of lift (the flow of air over an airfoil shape giving the lift) which this clearly did not.
Of course the aerial screw wouldnt work since as soon as it lifted off the ground (which was unlikely anyway since it would have weighed way too much), the people turning it would have nothing to push against, and so they would all be spinning in the same direction, so the driving force would stop. But it is fun to dream! There is a great essay written by Dylan Connelly that discusses this machine. His article is a download, so if you do an internet search it will download (there is no web site) A Study of Leonardo da Vincis Inventions: The Aerial Screw.
Our model now available, spins like we think Leonardo wanted it to, and uses one of his worm gear designs to accelerate the canopy to a pretty fast speed. We made a 2 to 1 gear, so one turn of the handle will make the canopy spin two times - yikes! Get out your Renaissance Lego people and put them to work!
The main purpose of these all-natural, untreated wood kits is to demonstrate scientific principles in action. Heres how they work: each kit comes as a set of pre-cut wooden pieces, which are assembled according to illustrated black and white instructions. Once you finish putting everything together, the set becomes a fully-functional scientific or historical representation. The catapult, for example, stands at 8" tall, 5" wide, and can fling small objects over 15 feet. But its not just a glued-together wooden frame with a rubber band attached; these kits are put together almost precisely how the real thing was, using only authentic parts. Small wooden pegs (miniature versions of the huge pegs used in the real deal) connect crossbars, supports, and pieces of the frame just as nails would in modern-day building projects. A tiny rope strung through the middle and wound by torsion bars gives the catapult its power, allowing it to hurl miniature stand-ins such as fruit, marshmallows, or even tiny rocks in the exact same way several-hundred-pound projectiles were once thrown in medieval times.
The attention to detail and precise engineering of these kits is absolutely wonderful. While this level of complexity increases the time it takes to put together these kits (about 1 to 2 hours), it also drastically improves the functionality and realism. Kids can learn not only how modern and medieval inventions were put together, but they can also see the scientific principles in action that make them work. The creator of these kits even suggests combining the medieval siege weapons with math and physics lessons to learn about trajectories and graphing. The hydraulics-powered Robotic Arm is a great example of a scientific principle in action. Using three different syringes on a control panel of sorts, the arm can be used to move up and down, turn, and grab objects between two foam panels.
All kits are fully interactive. Catapults and trebuchets throw things, bridges can turn and lift using cranks and other wooden controls, and hydraulic machines can be controlled by liquid-filled syringes. These kits are also made to be supplemented with other toys; kids can use LEGO figures or other toys to man siege engines or operate bridge controls as a miniature train or other vehicle starts to cross. For more advanced builders and artists, all kits can be painted piece-by-piece to look even better.