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October 21, 2013

Zombie autopsies: super spooky psychiatric medicine to save the world – Lesson Plan 3

Created by Katie Gould in collaboration with Dr. Steven Schlozman Author of “The Zombie Autopsies”


This lesson introduces students to the concept of medications development and gives students a simulation to apply what they know about  neurotransmitters, neurotransmission and zombies . This lesson was inspired by the book the “Zombie Autopsies” by Dr. Steven Schlozman.


Neuroscience, biology

Estimated Time 

One 90 minute class

Grade Level

Students should have some background in biology in order to understand this lesson.

Explain to students the following:

Welcome back students! Yesterday you learned about the brain of zombies and began to understand how abnormalities in the brain can affect behavior. Today you will be challenged to put together your knowledge of neurons, neurotransmitters, neuroanatomy and zombies to create a cure that will save the world. You are our last hope! Will you take on the task of a novel medications developer or will you let humanity down?

Warm Up Activity

  1. Welcome your “medical students” back and return their quizzes.
  2. Pass out PBS NewsHour article “‘The Zombie Autopsies: What Zombies Can Teach Us About Braaain Science” and have students read it to refresh themselves about the areas of the brain affected and how that alters behavior.

Main Activity

  1. Pass out the “The Zombie Autopsies: Create a Cure for the Zombie Epidemic” instruction page to the students and read it together. To make the task more challenging, add Prions into the mix. Click here to watch “Prions: The Real Zombie-Makers”
  2. Pass out Skittles (or have students be responsible for bringing their own bag) and a clear Dixie cup to each group/student. They will use these materials to model the amount of each neurotransmitter that they choose to go into their “cure”. They do not need to use all the skittles/neurotransmitters.
  3. Give students class time to work on their “cure” and facilitate group/individual work.
  4. Have students present their “cure” to the class and turn in their work at the end of the period to you.


Steven Schlozman, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Lecturer in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his Medical Degree at the Brown-Dartmouth Program in Medicine, and completed his training in general psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and his Child Psychiatry Residency at the MGH/McLean Program in Child Psychiatry.

He is currently the Co-Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry for Harvard Medical School and a staff child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Clinically, he works with children, adolescents and adults in both psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic treatment settings, and he serves as the pediatric psychiatry consultant to the pediatric transplant unit at the MGH Hospital for Children. His academic work focuses on curriculum reform and educational endeavors at the medical student and post graduate levels, as well as on the psychiatric treatment of medically ill children. His first novel, the Zombie Autopsies, was published by Grand Central Publishing in March 2011 and has optioned for film by George Romero.

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