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  • Writer's pictureMade by Sarah C.

MRI Model

Updated: Oct 24, 2021

Have you ever wondered what an MRI is? MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. That means that a large magnet is used to take some detailed pictures of your organs and tissues! You may have to have an MRI if you are sick or hurt. All you do is lie down on a mat and be super still while the machine makes some noises to take some photos of the inside of your body! This activity will give you step-by-step instructions on how to build your own model of an MRI machine! When we are finished with this craft, you will know exactly how an MRI works, what it's used for, and how it is used! You can then bring your model to show others what an MRI is and give an explanation on how it runs! Let’s get started!


18x24 sheet of cardboard




Optional: paint

Several sheets of white or colored paper or paint

Colored pencils/crayons/markers

Ruler or measuring tape

Activity Steps:

Step 1- Spread out all your supplies on a nice and clear surface. We will be using pieces of cardboard to build our model of the MRI! We will make each individual piece then connect them like a puzzle! We will start with getting our cardboard pieces ready. You can use some pieces from an old cardboard box or an old shoe box. We just need to make sure the cardboard is sturdy enough to stand up on its own. I will be using a piece from an old cardboard box. You will need a sheet of cardboard about 18x24 inches. This large piece of cardboard will be used like our paper. We will draw out every shape we will need to make the MRI using this one piece, so we need to make sure there is plenty of it!

Tip- You can flatten a cardboard box and cut off the biggest piece!

Step 2- Now that we have our cardboard ready, let’s take our pencil or pen out and to make sure we have the right measurements for this step. I will be using measuring tape to help measure everything out to the correct length. You can use one or you can use a ruler. Take your pencil and draw out a long and skinny rectangle shape. It should be about 2x6 inches long and look like a diving board. You will need to make 4 of these long pieces.

Step 3- Let’s keep going and draw out the rest of our pieces! Next, draw out a square about 6x6 inches. You will need to make two of these pieces. Next, the piece we need to draw out is a 4x9 inch rectangle. This can be like the ones we made that look like the diving boards but bigger. Finally draw out a large piece of cardboard. Mine will be about 11x12 inches. It needs to be close to the size of a regular sheet of paper. You should now have drawn out 4 long and skinny rectangles, 2 squares, one wider rectangle, and one large rectangle.

Step 4- The next step is to cut out all the shapes! Take your scissors and cut on the outside lines of each of the shapes. Once each piece is cut out, you can place them to the side. We will need them for the next step!

Tip- if your scissors are having a hard time cutting through your cardboard, ask an adult’s permission and try using a pair of kitchen scissors to cut out the shapes!

Step 5- Once you are finished, we can move onto covering the pieces with some paper or you can grab some paint! If you choose paper you will need several sheets of blank white paper, or any colored paper of your choice. Whatever color paper you choose will be the color of your MRI model! I will be using blank white paper. The first shape I will be covering with paper is one of the long and skinny rectangle pieces. The first step is to trace out the shapes onto the paper. Take one piece of your paper and lay it vertically. Place a cardboard piece on the paper. Grab your pencil and trace the cardboard piece down on the paper twice. Once for each side. I will be using paper to cover mine!

If you would like to paint your pieces make sure you set out paper towels and a designated spot for the pieces to dry! You will need to paint your pieces front and back. They will need to be completely dry before moving onto the next steps! If you choose to paint, after they are fully dry you can skip down to step 8!

Step 6- Now we can begin cutting them out and taping them onto the cardboard pieces! For this step you will need your scissors and some tape. Take your scissors and cut out what you traced! Next tape the two pieces of paper onto the cardboard! One on the front and one on the back! You should now have a rectangle covered with paper on both sides!

Step 7- Next you are going to do this to each of the rectangular pieces of cardboard! Trace each piece of cardboard onto your paper, making sure there you do one for the front and one for the back. Cover each one in the color of paper you chose for the model. Make sure everything is secured down well with your tape. You can always add some extra tape if a spot needs some more to stay down!

Step 8- Now grab your two pieces of cardboard that look like two squares. You will need a pencil for this step. Draw a circle right in the middle of the piece. This will be about 2.5 inches across. When you look at an MRI machine, you see something that looks like a tube right in the middle. The tube is the most important part of the machine. A patient gets to slide into that tube while lying down and it takes the pictures for the doctors to look at! Pick one square up and fold it in half. The fold should go right through the center of the circle we just drew out! Now take your scissors and make a snip right on the fold.

Now that you can cut in the middle of the cardboard through the snip, cut the circle out. Once you unfold the cardboard and lay it flat there should be a middle circle cut out of it. You can always make it bigger if you need to. Next, take the other piece of cardboard and do the same thing!

Tip- Make sure when you draw the circles that they are similar sizes. We want them to be even when we cut them out!

Step 9- Now, we are going to cover these two pieces in paper too. If you painted your pieces then you can skip to step 11! If you are using paper then you can take a piece of paper and lay it vertically. Now take one square of cardboard and place it in the middle of it. Take your pencil and trace the edges and then the middle. You will need to do this four times since we have two pieces that look like this. One for each side! Once you have it traced four times, you are ready to cut them out and tape them on!

Step 10- Now, that they are all cut out, you can take your time to tape them on each side. If a spot needs any more tape, go ahead, and add some more! We do not want the paper to come off the cardboard. We really want to make sure it is nice and secure!

Now, we should now have two last pieces to wrap! It should be the two big rectangular pieces. Take another sheet of paper and trace the piece out like we have been doing so far. Then once finished tracing, cut it out and tape it on!

Step 11- Now we can begin building! First, take your biggest rectangle piece. This is the base for the whole MRI to sit on. I am covering my big rectangle again in green paper to add some color! You can draw on it, add colored paper, or leave it blank! You will need your tape again for this step. We will start by making the bottom of the MRI. You will need to grab the big and wide rectangular piece and lay it vertically. Go one inch in on the left side and make a fold. Now do the same on the right side. Once you are finished you should be able to flip it over and sit it up! It should look like a table. The two cardboard pieces that were folded are the legs of the MRI machine! Sit the piece on the legs and tape them down to the base of the machine to secure it in place. You can also use some liquid glue to glue the pieces together, but I will be taping mine!

Step 12- Next grab one of your square pieces with the hole cut out. Place it standing up against one side of the table we just made. Secure it in place with some tape or glue! Now take a rectangle piece vertically and stand it up. Tape one edge of the rectangle piece to the square with the middle cut out. Make sure it is standing up! Now take another rectangular piece and do it the other side. You should now have some walls built up. The final wall can be placed to the back. The final wall will be the other square with the hole cut out. Tape it to the edges to the two rectangle pieces that are standing. Your walls should be built!

Step 13- Now, take another rectangular piece. This will be used for the mat. The mat is what the patient who is getting the MRI gets to lay down on. The mat slides in the tube after you get comfortable! Place the mat down on the piece that looks like the table. You do not have to tape this piece down. This way, you can slide the mat in and out of the hole. Remember the hole is what takes the pictures? This way you can practice moving it inside to take some pictures and then back out!

Tip- The mat will also have a pillow to make sure that you are comfortable when you are laying there! If you would like to add a pillow you can draw a pillow or make one! You can use whatever you would like, or you don’t have to add one!

Step 14- Now, you should be finished building the machine! Make sure the whole machine is well taped together or glued together. We do not want the model to fall apart before the next step! I am going around and making sure that no paper will come off any of my pieces and that my cardboard pieces will stay together!

Step 15- Finally, we will be adding some creativity to our MRI machine! You can take your colored pencils, markers, or crayons and add some designs or stick on some stickers! You can add some fun designs that would make your MRI model look unique, or you could draw some buttons on the machine! Draw on whatever you would like! You can color your mat to have a fun blanket, add some lights, or write your name! Be creative! This is your MRI model that you get to design so you get to pick out how it looks! What would you want your MRI machine to look like if you had to have an MRI? I want mine to be colorful so I will be using my colored pencils to draw on some buttons, stars, a rainbow, blue pillow, and a green mat!

Step 16- You are finished with your model for an MRI! You can use it to keep learning by studying the model you created or by pretending to give an MRI on a patient by sliding the mat in and out of the tube! I hope you had fun making a model of an MRI, learning how the MRI works and what it is used for!

~Made by Sarah C.

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