Education Technology

Find the Frequen-Z!

Posted 07/10/2017 by Erick Archer

Practical Ways for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse to Come

Teachers are continuously told how important STEM and coding will be for their students’ future career options. But how is a teacher supposed to engage students in coding and STEM, while still getting through all of the academic standards they’re required to help students meet? There is no simple answer to this question; however, Texas Instruments (TI) has free resources that can help.

The art of storytelling is an approach that has aided people with learning for thousands of years, and TI has an abundance of free activities that place your students into fun stories to help them learn the concepts they’re studying in context. One new activity, called “Frequen-Z,” takes students on a journey into the post-apocalyptic world of a zombie pandemic. In it, a group of survivors must find ways to avoid zombies. And you may not know this, but zombies will retreat if you are able to find the “Z note”... a special sound that is terribly offensive to their kind.

The task? Find the frequency of the Z note and code a program to play it when a zombie trips a light beam that will be set up by the students. The students will use a TI graphing calculator, teamwork, creativity and a TI-Innovator™ Hub with TI LaunchPad™ Board – TI’s microcontroller that is used by companies around the world to innovate new products. The TI-Innovator™ Hub is classroom tested and one of the most rugged microcontrollers currently available to schools.

The risk? Not setting up your program correctly. Design testing and iteration are a big part of the learning process.

The activity requires a thorough understanding of sound, wavelength and frequency, as well as how feedback and control systems work – a lot of learning goes into the project. The teacher accomplishes the goal of helping students master standards related to sound, wavelength and frequency; the students do some very basic coding and create a system that uses the input of light data to control the output of the Z note. And most importantly, students will have fun all while learning.

For most math and science teachers, coding isn’t a part of the curriculum. However, TI is making it easier to embed coding into core math and science lessons. You can download the TI-Nspire™ CX .tns files here, and we also have free resources online such as TI Codes and the Path to STEM Projects. For the full release of the new “Frequen-Z” activity this fall, go to

The time to prepare is now. Your priority is readiness, and your students are counting on you to help keep them from becoming “zombie chow.” Yes, the task is daunting … but TI is here to help.