The zombies' odd, shambling gait, and their need to hold their arms straight out in front in order to maintain balance? That's indicative of damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for motor coordination. The zombies' hunger, and thus their unrelenting urge to chase and eat humans? Clearly a problem with the hypothalamus, the appetite control center of the brain—the zombies just don't know when they are full! And all that zombie rage? Oh yeah, that's originating in the amygdala, apparently overactive in the case of zombies.
I started the lesson by giving students a chance to surface their prior knowledge: students wrote answers to the questions, "How do zombies look different from humans?" and "How do zombies behave differently from humans?" We then discussed their answers as a group. I was a bit floored by the response. Students who rarely participated were eager to share, and these students knew A LOT about zombies. All that zombie knowledge gathered over the years from movies, TV shows, books, and video games? Now the students had a chance to share it in an academic setting. They also wanted to know more about the biology involved!
Many of the students were wildly excited about this science lesson. My choice of words here is deliberate--in one of my class periods, it was a bit, well....wild. Students talking all at once, to me and to each other—they were on topic but almost no one could hear anyone. How to contain the chaos yet still direct that positive energy towards learning?