An Introduction to Biological Imaging
This unit is designed to introduce quantitative image
analysis and interpretation to middle school and high school
Biological imaging is represented here by one technique,
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Using available MRI data
(images) of a developing chick embryo in the egg, and
standard research software students will attempt to identify
the eye and measure its growth over time. This exercise can
serve as a framework for making hypotheses and drawing
conclusions, using experimental data, plotting graphs, or
learning about embryos.
Integrated Subject Areas
Standard Web browser
Internet access to MRI database
Any spreadsheet application
Teachers may choose to emphasize certain portions of
this material over others.
- Students will learn some basics of MRI terminology and
- Students will learn to use a Web-based image database
and NIH Image to analyze MRI data.
- Students will learn to identify the eye of the
developing chick from MR images.
- Students will learn about embryonic development and
growth by examining MR images of a developing chick in the
- Students will learn to plot and interpret graphs of
- Students will learn to interpret 3-dimensional structure
from 2-dimensional images.
- Students will learn to formulate hypotheses, set
controls, set-up experiment, and analyze data, and draw
conclusions based on observations.
- Unit Background
- Background material on the scientific method.
- Why Slices?
- An introduction to the "how's" and "why's" of
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Lessons on the
Scientific Method for Students
- A week-long activity (or up to 5 forty-minute class periods):
- Student Worksheet
- A work sheet for teachers to use with their students
for the unit.
- Teacher Answer Guide
- An answer guide for the teachers on the student work sheet.
- Unit Feedback
- Suggestions and questions by teachers and students
on the unit.
Relevance to the science and mathematics education
The biological imaging unit is aligned to standards in
science, mathematics, and technology education. As an
example, the unit meets the recommendations for supporting
new teaching and learning approaches with all students as
stated in the State Goals for Illinois Learning
Technology by enabling students and teachers to
experience innovations in biological imaging and help
facilitate its integration into the classroom curriculum.
(A note to teachers: Please consult your respective state
goals on recommendations for supporting technology in
As already stated in the unit objectives, students will
learn to use appropriate measurement techniques to
interpret their results as they engage in scientific
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