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Cicada Zombies!

Dr. Tory
Average rating:4.9Number of reviews:(78)
In this one-time course, learners explore the biology, ecology, and evolution of "zombie cicadas" (cicadas infected with Massospora fungus) in an age-appropriate manner.

Class experience

Following this course, students will be able to do one or more of the following:
-Describe the biology and behavior of cicadas
-Describe the biology and "behavior" of Massospora fungus
-Compare & contrast the behavior between Massospora-infected and non-infected cicadas
-Apply infection data to a graph and predict the spread of infection over time
-Debate if, and how, humans should control the spread of infection
Dr. Tory is neurodiverse (autistic/ADHD) and practices inclusive advocacy in both her personal and professional engagements; she is skilled in facilitating discussions on inclusion and empathy with children. In her day job, she provides professional development to college instructors on creating an inclusive classroom culture and adopting equitable teaching strategies. She hold a Ph.D. in Biology (emphasis of Animal Behavior), a B.S. in Molecular & Cellular Biology, and minor in Psychology. Dr. Tory also studied molecular physiology as a postdoctoral fellow at National Institutes of Health, and served as a Research Assistant Professor in the area of STEM educational reform (interdisciplinary Biology-Engineering education). She has taught and mentored students from preschool through high school in a variety of settings; including age-appropriate, scientific conversations about animal reproduction. Dr. Tory believes in listening to and validating others' lived experiences, the social definition of disability, and that Black lives matter.
-Access to Microsoft Office Excel for graphing and mathematical calculations (Dr. Tory will supply an Excel file containing data through the course website, as well as instructions for using Excel; learners are responsible for having access to active Excel software during the class)
In addition to the Outschool classroom, this class uses:
The topic of this class has the potential to expose learners to conversations about insect and/or fungi reproductive biology. The Massospora fungal infection is typically fatal to cicadas, so conversations about the death of these organisms is to be expected. Although presented in an age-appropriate, factual, and scientific manner, and important lessons arise, some topics may cause feelings of discomfort. Please see "Teacher Expertise" for more information. 
We will refer to several reputable, scientific publications (i.e. via Nature, Science, Smithsonian magazines, etc.) on the topics of cicadas and Massospora.

Meet the teacher

Average rating:4.9Number of reviews:(78)
My name is Tory Williams and I enjoy teaching a variety of STEM topics, especially related to animal behavior and engineering. As someone with invisible disabilities, I also love to teach on topics related to disabilities, mental health, and... 
Group Class


per class
Meets once
55 min

Completed by 1 learner
Live video meetings
Ages 10-13
2-10 learners per class

This class is no longer offered
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