Using Zombies to teach STEM (and other awesome zombie stuff)

I’m not a huge fan of FOX News, but this story caught my eye and I just had to read on.  Texas Instruments and The National Academy of Sciences have teamed to produce STEM Behind Hollywood, a series of highly entertaining activities aiming to facilitate real-world problem solving in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  The website for the project includes many activity plans which are accessible via download.

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The project also uses superheros, forensic investigations, space inquiries, and neuroscience experiments to hook kids’ interest, but really it’s all about the zombies these days.  Speaking of zombies, I can’t help but mention two pieces of Zombie literature that are awesome resources to use in the social studies classroom.  The first is the novel (wayyyyy, wayyyyyy, indescribably better than the movie) World War Z, by Max Brooks.  The book is a series of interviews conducted by Max Brooks following a global war against zombies.  Brooks interviews a long list of exotic characters from around the world to gain a retrospect of the events that took place during and after the war.  A variety of (real-world) global conflicts are touched upon (i.e. Israel & Palestine, sex trafficking, rampant unrestrained consumerism, and Kashmir just to name a few…) within a narrative that will capture the attention of anyone remotely interested in the world around them.  I’d especially recommend the audiobook version, which used a different reader for each character.

I also must recommend Theories of International Relations and Zombies, by Daniel W. Drezner.  Although this is definitely an academic book, the topic brings a serious text within the grasps of accessibility to many adolescents.  To be sure, this is a type of book I’d only recommend to students who were already interested in the topic of global politics and/or international relations because hidden beneath the zombie narrative is a very clear analysis of real-world international relations theories.

As much as I admire the content and the analysis of theories, what really caught my attention with Drezner’s work was his incredible ability to organize an argument and convey it in concise yet highly elegant terms.  If I wanted to teach a kid who already likes social studies how to write more effectively, hands down this is the number one resource I would use.  This is a skill that (unfortunately) not enough adolescent students really excel at, and Drezner’s work provides us with an opportunity to teach students how to form a really fantastic argument.  Drezner’s own comments on this book, including how to use it in an undergraduate setting and how he managed to write it without “drowning in puns,” are available here.

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Categories: Education in the 21st Century, Teaching Resources, Writing Samples | Leave a comment

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