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Lesson Idea 1: Build Leonardo da Vinci's Ornithopter

Domenico_DDomenico_D Member, Onshape Employees Posts: 51 PRO
Hi everyone!

I'm with the PTC Academic team that is supporting educators using Onshape in their classrooms. Ever since PTC acquired Onshape at the end of 2019, we have been learning how to use this design platform and seeing how it could benefit educators in the classroom. As we became familiar with Onshape, we created lots of different models and designs as well as lesson ideas around these documents. We want to share these with you and going forward will be posting them here in the Instructor Community. Feel free to make copies of the documents and use them however you want for your class. We would appreciate your feedback and encourage you to share any of your own lessons that you find successful. Here's the first one!  

Curriculum Idea: Learning about 3D Assemblies & Leonardo da Vinci

Topic area: Flying Machines/Invention

Description: This project involves having the students do some research about Leonardo da Vinci and his designs for flight. Following this, the students could complete Onshape’s learning module on assembly and then use the parts in the included model to assemble their own ornithopter.

There are relatively cheap kits that students can purchase to build at home as well. For a more challenging project, students could attempt to design Leonardo da Vinci’s other inventions in CAD.

Learning Objectives: After completing this project, students should be able to:

  1. Describe Leonardo da Vinci’s designs for flight

  2. Use Mate connectors to assemble parts

  3. Use Relations to make the ornithopter work as a mechanism

Models: Link to Ornithopter

Other resources:

DaVinci Content

Assembly learning module


  • jayson_englandjayson_england Member Posts: 6 PRO
    In your post above is says make copies of the documents. What documents exactly are you referring to? I am missing them somewhere. 
  • Domenico_DDomenico_D Member, Onshape Employees Posts: 51 PRO
  • john_sadowskijohn_sadowski Member Posts: 3
    Love this.  Any possible way to get drawings of the parts so I can have the students create everything from scratch?  Thank you!
  • michael3424michael3424 Member Posts: 533 ✭✭✭
    Looks like you should be able to create drawings of the parts yourself from the document that @Domenico_D provided.  That activity alone could be a good lesson for students.
  • ShohentellShohentell Member Posts: 1
    Thank you.  I could see doing some more simplistic linkage assemblies to scaffold some basic skills before jumping to this.  I would also love the part drawings to have students make from scratch.
  • john_sadowskijohn_sadowski Member Posts: 3

    Good Afternoon,

    The idea is from a kit, I bought a few off amazon. I'm having my kids use scales and calipers to measure the parts and create them themselves before assembling. Like a reverse engineering project. Hope that helps.

  • jeffrey_mackniakjeffrey_mackniak Member Posts: 2 EDU
    this is a great project,  I have modeled a Da Vinci in Fusion 
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