Vasco da Gama? Who he? I can hear you asking. Today in 1497, this Portuguese ultra-daring explorer set off on an epic journey to be the first man to sail from Portugal round the tip of Africa and on up to India. What’s the big deal? Until he did this, no-one knew you could do this journey by sea. Instead, everyone trudged via Constantinople and overland to India, loaded up with spices and precious stones and then had to make it back – alive and without being robbed. So da Gama opened up the sea route and changed the way trade developed – and made Portugal very rich in the process.
Now we can go everywhere, of course, so the immensity of this journey is lost on us. But back then, it was ground-breaking and he is still regarded as one of the great explorers, up there with Columbus and Magellan and Cook. The fact that he was a nasty SOB is neither here nor there at this stage in history – he is still famous for his seafaring exploits.
Parents, grandparents, teachers and the generally curious can learn and find out more in ten little minutes with our jolly film which tells you Vasc0 da Gama’s biography and why he is well-known even today. Just check out our film – NowYouKnowAbout Vasco da Gama.
The centenary of Alan Turing, the maths brainbox and father of computer science, is coming up on June 23. It’s always comforting to find that people we regard as super-clever often had a bumpy start at school. In Alan’s case, he didn’t impress his teachers at Sherborne School much. Not because he wasn’t brilliant at maths – he was. But more because, back then, education meant the classics – Greek, Latin, history, art, poetry, languages, philosphy etc. His headmaster wrote in a report to his parents: “He must aim at becoming educated. If he is to be solely a scientific specialist, he is wasting his time.”
How things have changed! In our modern world, maths and science are key tools in this computer and internet age.
For parents despairing of their children’s school reports, please remember that Darwin had a dreadful school career, that Van Gogh was miserably unpopular, that Galileo was almost kicked out of university and that Leonardo da Vinci didn’t even go to school! He had to teach himself.
Find out all these cheering titbits in NowYouKnowAbout’s short films for anyone aged 6 – 100 who’s interested in famous people who made their mark.