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In this case study, students will learn how to interpret MRI brain scans and to identify the functional regions (i.e., lobes) of the brain most likely impacted by bullying behaviour.


Every day, teens struggle with bullying – at home, school and online. The social and biological impact of bullying behaviour will be explored through the interactive activities included in this case study. Students will learn how individuals that bully are often surrounded by negative pressures, and how being bullied may lead to mental illness later in life.


  • Subject Focus: Science, Biology
  • 21st Century Skills Focus: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration

Learning Goals

  • Identify the negative impacts that bullying behaviour may have on teen mental health
  • Evaluate the importance of medical technology for diagnosis and human health
  • Enable students to use technology to acquire new knowledge and ultimately improve quality of life for themselves and their peers
  • Demonstrate an understanding of investigative technologies and responsible, cooperative behaviour

Learning Activities

Students will learn how to interpret MRI brain scans and to identify the functional regions (i.e., lobes) of the brain most likely impacted by bullying behaviour.

Big Idea

Bullying is a negative interaction that may lead to poor mental health and even diagnosable mental illness. Promoting positive daily interactions can be an effective treatment for mediating the negative impact of bullying on the brain.

MINDS-ON 1: Bullying and Me — An Introduction to Tracy’s Case

As an introduction to this case study, students will watch a video of Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt describing her research on how bullying can lead to mental illness. Following the video review students will be tasked with creating a list of their daily activities, in order to assess their daily interactions with others. Science sections are optional lessons.

Suggested Timing: 30 minutes


MINDS-ON 2: Brain Anatomy & Function


Students will learn about fundamental brain architecture and specialized brain regions. From this, they will identify which brain regions are most likely impacted by the stress of bullying.

Suggested Timing: 30 minutes


ACTION 1: MRI & the Brain


Students will access and interpret Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) images in order to understand the effect that negative interactions, such as bullying, may have on the brain.

Suggested Timing: 30 minutes

ACTION 2: Positive and Negative Social Interactions

Students will learn about the impact that ‘serve and return’ interactions have on building solid brain architecture by watching a video and playing a group game.

Suggested Timing: 30 minutes

CONSOLIDATION: Mental Health & Me

Students will consolidate information that they have learned about the impact that bullying behaviour has on mental health by re-assessing their net interactions.

Suggested Timing: 30 minutes

Materials Needed: Highlighter markers for student use

Bryan Jenkins

Bryan Jenkins works as a Fellow with the CurioCity team. He is an academically trained neuroscientist, and has interests that span across a wide range of scientific topics. His past research has examined the role that molecular and cellular systems have in learning, memory, and sensory abilities. The communication of scientific discoveries through outreach and education initiatives is something that he is very passionate about. In his spare time he likes to read, write, and play his guitar.

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