Question Sheet: Teen Brains, Under Construction


Before reading:

  1. What types of behavior are associated with being a teenager?
  2. Why do you think some teenagers have a particularly hard time getting along with their parents?

During reading:

  1. Why does neuroscientist Jay Giedd describe teenage brains as “under construction”?
  2. What is gray matter and how does its growth or loss affect a person?
  3. When do brains appear to stop developing?
  4. Compare the brain development of boys to that of girls.
  5. How might brain research affect teaching?
  6. Why might teenagers be more likely than older people to engage in risky behavior?

After reading:

  1. What are some typical behaviors of kids your age that you think might be linked to brain development? See
  2. Does reading about brain development make you more sympathetic to kids behaving badly? Should teenagers be tried as adults for crimes? Why or why not?

    See (Science News).

  3. This article describes how knowing more about kids’ brains might help adults understand kids better. Come up with three ways in which this research could help kids understand themselves. How might it change behavior or learning?
  4. When you’re having a conversation with your parent, what do you appreciate most about it? Are there things you would like to discuss with your parent but feel you can’t? If your answer is yes, why not? See
  5. Do you think research showing that the brain doesn’t stop developing until a person reaches his or her 20s should influence the legal age at which someone votes, drives, or drinks alcohol? At what age do you think a person should be considered legally an adult? Why?


Advertisers and retailers are among the groups that study teen behavior. Based on their findings, they can tailor their ads and products to be attractive to teenagers. Should teens be targeted in this way? Do advertisers and the media have too much influence on kids? What dangers might there be in catering to teen tastes, anxieties, and concerns? See (PBS).


  1. Interview two teenagers about what it’s like to be their age. Be sure to ask questions about how learning has changed, what their emotions are like, and how they feel towards adults. What other questions could you ask?
  2. Take a look at an advice book such as Now I Know Why Tigers Eat Their Young: Surviving a New Generation of Teenagers, Help! My Family Is Driving Me Crazy: A Survival Guide for Teenagers, or something similar. Do you think such a book is helpful? Why or why not?


Find a four-digit number, no zeros, in which the first number is five times the last, the second is four more than the first and three times the third, and the third is two more than the last and two less than the first.