DaVinci's Vitruvian Man Participants - Level 1

Is the Vitruvian theory that height is equal to arm span true for students today?

Join us in adding your measurements to our spreadsheet to discover whether we collectively match the proportions of Leonardo DaVinci's Vitruvian Man.


The Vitruvian Man was drawn by Leonardo DaVinci during the Renaissance, around the year 1487. DaVinci's drawing shows the proportions of man, fitting man's body into a circle and a square by changing the position of his arms and legs. The Text accompanying Leonardo DaVinci's Vitruvian Man describes the proportions of man.

According to da Vinci, the Vitruvian Man possessed the following ratios:
  • Ratio of height to arm span (1:1)
  • Ratio of height to hand span (10:1)
  • Ratio of height to the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin (8:1)
  • Ratio of height to the distance from the elbow to the armpit (8:1)
  • Ratio of height to the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand (5:1)
  • Ratio of height to the maximum width of the shoulders (4:1)

What will students do?

  1. Discuss DaVinci's Vitruvian Man and how the height must equal his arm span with the ratio of height to arm span being equal to 1.
  2. Students begin by making their predictions about the measurement of their body parts and recording them on the . You may have students ONLY focus on their height and arm span measurements or may choose to have them complete the additional portions of the data sheet.
  3. Working in pairs,student measure and record their body measurements on the Vitruvian Man Data Sheet.
  4. Students enter their measurements into the Vitruvian Man Google Form.
  5. Discuss how accurate their predictions and measurements were.
  6. Students who are able, compute the ratio of their height to the other measured parts by analyzing the data on the Vitruvian Man Spreadsheet
  7. Add your thoughts about how their measurements compared to the ratios of the Vitruvian man on the VoiceThreads below. Which ratios matched? Which ones did not? What reasons can they offer to explain why the ratios did not match?
  8. Assessment: Did students estimate and accurately measure their body parts? Did students compute the ratios correctly? Did student analyze and evaluate how well their body ratios matched those of the Virtuvian man?