“It has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them,” Leonardo Da Vinci once said. “They went out and happened to things.”

Leonardo Da Vinci self portrait

It is not only about what is happening TO you. It is about what YOU make happen!

What a great motivational message for children and young people who are learning to make choices and establish attitudes that will carry them throughout their lives.

Happy, successful people  choose to see their lives as interesting and fulfilling. It’s not what they do (because happy people are not all doing the same things); it’s how they feel about what they do that makes the difference.

If you and I share the same experience today, we will interpret it differently. In the same classroom, one student may be fully engaged in the lesson while another decides the lesson is boring and stares out the window.

It is empowering to accept that we have some control over how we experience what is happening around us. The most fortunate children and young people have mentors that encourage them to engage in active learning.

“… people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

Elaine and Joe
I met Joe Schoenly at Da Vinci Science Center

Last fall, while  filming segments for Working Class: Dream and Do, Chris Leigh and I had the privilege of visiting the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, PA. The award-winning center has been making science come to life for kids since 1992.

It earned the US2020 City Competition National Grand Prize for its STEM mentoring coalition. Its math science partnership was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the nation’s 20 best teacher professional development programs. So, there is some serious education going on at the Da Vinci Science Center… but there is also a lot of fun!

Science Educator Joe Schoenly

Like children at the center, who were featured in Working Class: Dream and Do, Chris and I fell under the spell of Joe Schoenly, science educator and camp coordinator, as he led “campers” in an investigation of how static images can be made to appear to move. With spinning discs and pulsating lights, children had a blast experiencing the science of animation.

Joe and Kids
Camp coordinator Joe makes science fun for kids

The center’s chief marketer Dennis Zehner explained the exercise was part of a summer camp program — a collaboration with The Baum School of Art — that explored the overlapping of science and art.

“The science of animation relates to how our vision works and how the mind perceives what is seen,” Zehner said. “Because the mind is doing its best to organize what is seen into what it knows from the real world, it can be subjected to illusion. Animation is creating a series of still pictures and, based upon how the eye sees and how the brain interprets them, they are transformed into a moving image. The art then becomes what we can create from this effect.”

Science is what it is. Art is what we make of what is.

What are you making of the “what is” in your life? What are you doing to encourage young people to reach their potentials by exploring the real world while considering the impact their own lives and careers might have on the future?

There is a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences with young people through public initiatives like the Da Vinci Science Center and through online resources provided by respected agencies such as PBS, the Library of Congress, and the Museum of Science.

publicdomainpictures.net leonardo-davinci-statue“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing,” Da Vinci said. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

Leonardo Da Vinci made his mark on history by doing many things that he loved and doing them with great enthusiasm. What better role model can we share with young people to encourage them to make the most of their lives?

Interested in learning more about Leonardo Da Vinci?

The Working Class website offers links to resources from trusted organizations, including PBS features Portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci, Treasures of the World: Mona Lisa, Da Vinci Rules of Proportions and Nova’s Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers (inspired by Da Vinci’s notebooks). Teachers’ guides from the Library of Congress and the Museum of Science are provided help educators facilitate more classroom and homeschool learning using online resources.

Creative campers at Penn College

“The Art of Science” summer camp session at Da Vinci Science Center gives campers the chance to learn the basics of perspective, photography, ceramics, illustration and the underlying science principals behind them. At the end of the week, families are invited to see campers’ art on display! Other camp sessions include “Cartoon Creations,” “Science Spectacular,” “Invention Lab,” and “Spy Camp.”

A wide variety of summer camps at Pennsylvania College of Technology include “Design a Digital Future” for kids who want to develop computer games and program robots and an “Inventors Institute” where participants sketch and make models. A “Creative Art Camp” welcomes students in grades 4-6 while a “Graphic Design Summer Studio” provides an intensive workshop for high school students.

Summer is coming. It is a great time for kids of all ages – as well as parents and teachers – to experience learning outside of the classroom. Search your community for summer experiences that can help to motivate and inspire.

The Kids
Happy campers at Da Vinci Science Center

At the Da Vinci Science Center, Pennsylvania College of Technology, and other schools and organizations in your community, summer camps provide a perfect mix of work and play to keep students engaged in learning until classes resume in the fall.

We all know summer goes by quickly. Before it is too late, register the children and young people in your lives in summer camps that will help them make the most of this summer.

  “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing,” Da Vinci said. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”


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