MRI Introduction for Elementary
For young students from lower grade classrooms, MRI
could be introduced through this simple story by
B. M. Damon.
A story about Cheerio T. Chicken and
Once upon a time, in a barnyard in Illinois, there
lived a young bird named Cheerio T. Chicken. She
lived there with her parents. One day, Cheerio went
to go and see her doctor, Dr. Poulet. Mr. and
Mrs. Chicken came along, too. Dr. Poulet was a
Cheerio liked Dr. Poulet very much, because he was
very funny. He was always telling jokes. Cheerio's
favorite jokes were the ones about chickens crossing
the road. Cheerio and Mr. and Mrs. Chicken walked
across the barnyard to his office. It was over in the
Southwest corner, near where the pigs lived. They
walked into his office. "Well, Cheerio, why did the
chicken cross the road?" asked Dr. Poulet.
"I don't know, Dr. Poulet," replied Cheerio, already
"To get away from those smelly old pigs!!!!"
After they all had a good laugh, Dr. Poulet began to
examine Cheerio. He tapped on her knees with a small
rubber hammer, scratched her feet with the other end
of the hammer (which also made her laugh, but this
time because it tickled), looked in her ears and eyes,
and asked her if she was feeling well.
"Well, Dr. Poulet," said Cheerio, "Now that I'm all
over my People Pox, I feel great!"
"That's great, Cheerio. Say, how would you like to
take a picture of your insides?" asked Dr. Poulet.
"You mean my brain and my heart and my liver and my
guts and stuff?"
"Yes, your brain and heart and liver and guts and
stuff," replied Dr. Poulet, laughing.
"How can you do that? Do you use a special camera?"
"Yes, we use a very special camera called an MRI. An
MRI camera is a great big magnet. Do you know what a
"Yes, I do, Dr. Poulet. We learned about them in
school. A magnet is a piece of metal that can attract
other pieces of metal."
"That's right. And do you know what else? Inside of
you there is a lot of water. There is water in your
brain, and in your heart, and in your liver and guts
and everywhere else. And this special MRI camera can
make pictures of this water."
Cheerio could not believe her ears. A camera that
can look inside of things and make pictures of water?
Wow, she thought, this is cool. I have to try this
out. "OK, Dr. Poulet. I think I want to try it.
What will it be like?" she asked.
"Well, Cheerio, you will lie down inside of a tube.
The tube is part of the MRI camera. You will lie
there while we get the MRI camera ready and then we
will start to take a picture of you. You will need to
lie very still so that the pictures aren't too
"What will the picture look like? Will it be in
color?" asked Cheerio.
"No, it won't be in color," replied Dr. Poulet. "It
will be black and white. It will be a square about 60
mm by 60 mm (about two and a half inches by two and a
half inches). We call this the field of view. We can
change the field of view to make a big picture or a
little picture. We can take pictures from the front,
from the side, or from the top. We can make the
picture very thick or very thin."
"Well, this sounds very exciting, Dr. Poulet," said
Cheerio. When can I come in?"
"How about tomorrow?" suggested the doctor.
The next day, Cheerio and her parents went back over
to Dr. Poulet's office. Though she was a little
nervous, Cheerio was a very brave young bird and was
very calm the entire time. Afterwards, Cheerio was
very curious to see what her insides looked like. She
studied the pictures very hard, and Dr. Poulet taught
her all about brains and hearts and livers and guts.
Cheerio thought that it may have been her most
exciting day ever.
Eventually, Cheerio and her parents had to leave. As
they were getting ready to go, Dr. Poulet asked,
"Cheerio, do you know why basketball players are such
"No, Dr. Poulet," she replied.
"Because they're always dribbling!!"
Cheerio laughed and laughed all the way home,
stopping only to think, I wonder what the inside of an
egg looks like?
Figure 6. MRI of an egg (Image courtesy of Dr. Andrew
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