Preparing for a large-scale zombie attack might be a slightly unusual way to spend STEM classes, but not for Wanniassa School’s Year 7s - they’re eagerly preparing themselves for survival in a postapocalyptic world.
With obstacle courses to navigate, zombie teachers to best and probability of attack to wager, students are serious about all things zombie. In fact, parents have also noticed zombie research filtering into the household, as students eagerly embark on their quirkilythemed homework.
Teacher Gary Martin explains that the unique idea was born out of a teaching planning session. “We were trying to come up with a project for Term 1 that would be a good hook and get students engaged in something that’s fun… and I came up with the idea of a zombie apocalypse.”
Martin, who’s a self-confessed “big kid” at heart, says that at the crux of the idea, he wanted to get students excited about maths and science, topics which not all find easy to engage with.
Since the initial idea, the project has evolved from “mission” cards and probability dice rolls and become increasingly immersive as students and teachers consider every possible zombie-related challenge which could potentially arise during an apocalypse – from clean drinking water to armour.
Students are also building their own survival kits. “So [this] is supposed to last them and help them survive in an apocalypse situation,” Martin says
They’ll also be giving presentations at the end of term about the particulars of their survival kit. While assessments may not typically be an area that students get excited about, Martin says they have “been hooked from day one”.
“They don’t really realise they’re actually doing a lot of planning, a lot of organising and doing their science work and maths work, all this stuff that’s going into their survival kit.
They just think its fun…” With other students asking why they weren’t making zombie survival kits themselves, eager Year 9 and 10s are also getting involved, building an obstacle course for students to navigate.
“It was proposed to me a couple of weeks ago … me, being me was like, yeah, that’s a fantastic idea. May as well get the whole school involved!” “…We’ve also got a student who was here last year, he does horror special effects makeup and he’s really good at it, so he’s coming in to do some of the teachers’ makeup for the zombie course.”
Students are also busy learning how to find and purify water. “That’s been our practical for most of the term, because what do you need to survive an apocalypse?
Drinking water… Then you start talking about ways of purifying.” “It’s fallen together pretty easily because you just get the STEM team together…” Martin says of the school’s collaborative approach to the project.
School support has also helped keep the project from dying. “Wanniassa School is a great place to foster this flexibility and this type of learning … We’re really focused on the success of the students,” Martin says.