Zombie Invasion Inspires Learning at Unity College

Caitlin Burchill

Updated 10 months ago

There’s a fake zombie apocalypse this week at Unity College.

The “Humans vs. Zombies” battle is giving students some real world math skills.

It’s a game of tag played on college campuses worldwide.

Humans wear bandanas around their arms. Zombies wear them on their heads.

Human players defend themselves from turning into the enemy with “Nerf guns” or a clean pair of socks.

Students at Unity College are using the game as a hands on learning experience.

“I don’t see this as being any kind of dangerous game where people are going to hurt themselves. I think about it as an opportunity to show them how math is all around them,” said Carrie Diaz Eaton, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Unity College.

Senior Kari Lemelin won a prestigious award from the Mathematical Association of America for taking the game to the next level.

She tracked the number of humans and zombies from last years mission and related it to a disease model.

“You could use this model to demonstrate rabies. It’s the disease that’s most comparable to the fictional zombie virus because it changes the behavior of an individual. An individual with rabies becomes aggressive. They start foaming at the mouth. They start attacking individuals that they wouldn’t normally attack, so the rabies individual is the zombie and the susceptible individual would be the human,” said Lemelin who won the Janet L. Anderson Prize.

“I was very, very excited for her. Very excited that she won the award and really proud of her because I’ve seen her grow as a student,” said Diaz Eaton.

Her advisor is even involved in the action.

“It’s a game of tag and I think what the great thing is about it is that we can bring in people who want to play tag and don’t necessarily want to do math and show them that they actually blend together. It’s more than just equations on a board,” said Diaz Eaton.

While Kari hopes to bring the skills she’s learned into the real world, she hopes Unity students continue to have fun learning.


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