Zombies will be feeding the minds of STEM students using a new program created by Texas Instruments that blends science and math concepts with popular television shows and movies. The “STEM Behind Hollywood” program provides free teaching materials that also feature forensics, space, and superheroes.
Melendy Lovett, president of TI Education Technology, says advisors from The Science & Entertainment Exchange, an organization that works with show and movie producers, helped develop the “STEM Behind Hollywood”content for middle and high school students. Each individual program includes a lesson plan for teachers, worksheets and classroom activities for students, and videos that provide background on the topic. All of this content can be downloaded to new TI graphing calculators, desktops, laptops, and tablets.
“Our main objective is to have more middle and high school students engaged in science and math and we thought we could do that by tying in hot Hollywood themes to generate more interest in STEM,” Lovett says.
The zombie program received positive feedback from students and teachers who tested it over the summer in California and Florida, Lovett says. In testing the program, TI teamed up with The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik, who has a doctorate degree in neuroscience, and Steven C. Schlozman, Harvard Medical School professor and self proclaimed “zombie expert” who has studied the potential effects of zombie-like diseases on the brain.
With the students, Bialik and Schlozman explored real-life science and math concepts by using a hypothetical zombie-like pandemic as an example. They taught elements of biology by discussing the parts of the brain and about how diseases in general spread from human to human. They also taught statistics by asking students to calculate the infection rate of such a disease.