MRI scan – what is a section?

The idea of this activity came to my mind when I started teaching art in a special science program class. The students of this class are super bright, motivated and many of them wants to be a doctor. So I started a special visual curriculum with them: visuality in science. I also attended recently CT, X-ray and ultrasound diagnostics personally and got inspired by them. I discovered and used Andy Ellison’s “inside insides” project.

The MRI project was so successful that I have to share it with you! I also use this project in the spatial perception research program.

Age group: 10-19 years

Time: 1×45 minutes or 2×45 minutes

Theme: Magnetic Resonance Imaging – what is a section?

Task: Can you guess what plant you see on the images? Sort the pictures by the order of the MRI section. Draw a 3D image of the original plant!

Goals: understanding 2D-3D correlations, technical drawings 101

Materials and tools: sets of printed images in envelopes (yes… a lot to prepare), sheets of paper, glue, pencils, projector and computer

To show, to print: DOWNLOAD these gifs (from and printables, I recommend THIS short video as an introduction

First I show the video as an introduction, then Q&A about MRI, possibly stories and experiences of students.

Then the students form groups of 5, every group gets a set of envelopes and pictures, sheets of papers and glue sticks.

mri 03

We start with the banana – this is the example, first we do it together:

1. I show the gif on the projector : guess the fruit – write down the answer!
2. Sort the pictures by the order of the MRI section! Glue it on the paper!
3. Draw the fruit on the back of the paper! (this particular bunch of bananas)
4. I show the turning 3D gif of the banana





Now that the students all know what to do we can continue the lessons. Repeat the steps with all the MR images but this time the students can only watch the gifs after sorting the pictures.

1. open the next envelope, guess the fruit/vegetable/human body part
2. sort the pictures by the order of section
3. watch the gif (self-check), glue the pictures on the paper
4. draw the fruit/vegetable/human body part in 3D on the back of the paper

Guess what this is?




Yep, an artichoke :)

I could fit 3 puzzles in a 45 minutes lesson. In the downloadable package you will find 6 moving gifs and individual still images. The package contains: artichoke, banana, broccoli, tulip bulb, human head, human body.


Assessment as a team competition: 1 point for recognizing the plant, 3 points for sorting the pictures, 1 point for each 3D drawing (from different angles)


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