While Leonardo was living in Milan, much of Italy and the rest of Europe was struck by the plague and many people died. Leonardo felt the high number of deaths was partially due to the state of cities - they were very dirty and germs spread rapidly through the dense population. Garbage was thrown out onto the streets, there was poor sanitation and the streets were narrow and dark.

Leonardo designed an "ideal city" where the streets were wide, underground waterways carried garbage away and there was even a paddlewheel system that would clean the streets. His city was based on 2 levels, the top level was for the foot traffic and the bottom for carts and animals. In this city Leonardo hoped that improved living conditions would help to avoid contagious diseases from spreading so quickly and wiping out large percentages of the population. While the ideal city was never built, he did help to improve the Sforza castle by designing a smaller version of his plumbing and drainage system which proved to be both clean and efficient.

Students will look at Leonardo's sketches and reasons behind the design of the ideal city. They will then examine issues, needs and wants of cities today before designing their own contemporary version of the ideal city. As a class we will construct a small scale model of a city which will be governed by an elected body. Students will learn about scale, area, perimeter, volume, data analysis, chance uncertainty in mathematics at the same time exploring issue linked to local government as described in the Social Studies curriculum.

Social Studies

Shape and Space (Measurement):

  • Solve problems using perimeter, area, surface area, volume an angle measurements.

Shape and Space (3D/2D):

  • Use visualization and symmetry to solve problems involving classification and sketching.

Shape and Space (Transformations):

  • Create patterns and designs that incorporate symmetry, tessellations, translations and reflections

Stats and Prob (Data Analysis):

  • Develop and implement a plan for the collection, display and analysis of data gathered from appropriate samples.

Stats and Prob (Chance & Uncertainty):

  • Use numbers to communicate the probability of single events from experiments and models.

Topic A: Meeting Human Needs - Local Government:

  • How well is the local government meeting your needs; e.g. water supply, school, library, police, fire department, transit, disaster services?
  • How much responsibility should local government assume for satisfying the needs of citizens?
  • Why should we become involved in local government?
  • should children have the same rights and responsibilities as adults?
  • should Canadians be forced to vote in elections?

© T. Green and K. McKie 2002