How to Make a Super Easy Zombie Cake

Our zombie cake

What’s better than birthday cake? Zombie birthday cake, obviously. I have few domestic talents, but this is a cake that even the most clueless chef can tackle with ease. Mistakes? No such thing. This zombie rises up out of a grave of chocolate cake, frosting, and crumbled cookies.

What you need:

What to do:

  • bake or buy your cake
  • line a cookie sheet with foil and put the cake on top
  • hollow out a small space in the middle of the cake (or use a bundt pan as I did)
  • frost – no points for neatness, sloppy is better
  • smear some of the frosting thinly over the exposed foil to make mud/dirt
  • put your cake topper in the middle of the cake
  • cake toppers are generally naked, cover in frosting to create clothing
  • smear green gel food coloring and some of the black frosting on the cake topper to create a zombie look
  • separate the creme filling from the cookie shell of the Oreos and crush the remaining cookies
  • arrange larger broken cookies in a circle around the zombie to suggest that she is rising from her grave
  • sprinkle smaller cake and cookie crumbs around the cake and into the frosting on the foil
  • adorn with gummy worms
  • stick in eyeballs or other plastic creepy things for atmospheric effect
  • cover a cardboard box in foil, and decorate to create a headstone (with happy birthday wishes) for your zombie’s grave

That’s it! It’s easy enough to do the same thing with cupcakes. We used mini bundt pans and small cake toppers for these little treats. To create small headstones, we used the creme filling leftover from the Oreos to frost mini-chocolate bars and then decorated with gel icing. No birthday for a while? There’s always Halloween. Ah, heck, who needs an excuse? These are good for the zombie geek any day of the year.SAMSUNG

Geek Celebrates Hanukkah With Science: Day Eight

It’s been another wonderful science-driven holiday season! We’ve experimented with balloons that blast-off, nearly unsinkable dinghies, delicious math candies, stackable liquids, desiccated dancers, split light, and put a minature Jaques Cousteau in a bottle. Tonight we’re going to give Hanukkah a fine send-off with another trick of the light.


I got the idea for this experiment, not from the internet or a science book, but from a simple game I developed to teach my five year-old about angles. We call it the Acute Obtuse game, and all it takes to play is a ball and a wall. But balls aren’t the only bounce-able toys. It’s easy to turn wall-ball into flashlight geometry.


The instructions for this experiment are simple (materials are in bold):

  • Draw a target on a paper plate, and tape it to a wall or ceiling.
  • Using modeling clay, stand a discarded CD upright on a paper plate.
  • Turn out the lights in the room.
  • Shine a flashlight on the CD and try to angle it so the reflected light hits the target.
  • For more fun, use a laser pointer and multiple CDs to hit targets hidden behind obstacles!

Geek Celebrates Hanukkah With Science: Day Seven

Of all the science experiments we’ve done for Hanukkah this year, and last year, this one is probably the easiest to set up and demonstrate. It also turns into a very satisfying toy.

The Cartesian Diver (named after René Descartes) is not only easy to build and fun to play with, it also opens the door to discussions about fluid pressure, fish anatomy, the foundations of modern science, and even a little philosophy.

The instructions for this experiment are simple (materials are in bold):

  • Fill a plastic soda bottle almost to the top with water.
  • Cut a drinking straw in half, and bend one half in the middle.
  • Use a paperclip to keep the bent straw from unbending.
  • Form a blob of modeling clay onto the exposed curve of the paperclip.
  • Drop your ‘diver’ into the bottle of water.
  • Tightly close the lid.
  • Squeeze the bottle.
  • Play!

Geek Celebrates Hanukkah With Science: Day Six

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for science! If you haven’t been following along with my family this Hanukkah, you’ve got some catching up to do. We’ve already launched a rocket, sank a few boats, transformed math into a form of dessert, poured some stripes in a jar, and danced with the raisins.

Tonight, huddled in a dark room with flashlights at the ready. We’re not afraid of the dark, we just wanted to unweave a rainbow. Or at least project one onto a wall.

This experiment has so much potential for discussion. After we finished playing with refraction and the visible spectrum, we talked about differences between human color vision and animal color vision, color blindness, and ultimately about light, the universe, and everything.

The instructions for this experiment are simple (materials are in bold):

  • Fill a tall drinking glass or glass bowl with water.
  • Darken the room as completely as you can.
  • Shine a flashlight through the water onto a white wall.
  • Voila! Roy G. Biv!

Note: There are many alternate ways to perform this experiment. Try them all! And let me know if yours show up better on video than ours did. *mutters* I swear, it was gorgeous in person, no matter how wimpy it appeared on camera…

Geek Celebrates Hanukkah With Science: Day Five

It’s Hanukkah, and in my house that means it’s time to celebrate with science! Tonight, we poured some bubbly and drowned our…raisins. Well, we tried to drown them, but raisins are surprisingly good swimmers. In the video above, my five-year-old explains how “The Raisin Lifting Experiment” works, but even after the experiment was finished and the candles on the menorah were long gone, we were still chatting away about density, volume, buoyancy, and carbonation. Who knew that tossing a few wrinkled snacks into some fizzy-lifting drink could turn into a conversation about the origins of life on Earth?

The instructions for this experiment are simple (materials are in bold):

  • Pour clear soda into a clear container.
  • Drop raisins in soda.
  • Observe!

For more non-traditional holiday fun, try build a blast-off balloon, sink the Tinfoil Titanic, get a sugar rush from edible mathematics, and concoct a liquid rainbow.

Geek Celebrates Hanukkah With Science: Day Four

This year, as in years past, my family is celebrating Hanukkah with a series of science experiments. We launched under pressure on the first night of Hanukkah. On the second night, we triumphed over buoyancy. Last night, we ate mathematics for dessert. Tonight, we’re hosting a mixer.

Or not. The Layered Liquids experiment has more to do with liquids that don’t mix easily, than the other way around. The most straightforward things to demonstrate by creating this colorful column are density and miscibility, but from there it’s a short conversational tangent to intermolecular force and the hydrophobic effect.

The instructions for this experiment are simple (materials are in bold):

  • Pour honey into a clear container.
  • Pour liquid dish soap slowly down the side of the container onto the honey.
  • Pour colored water slowly down the side of the container onto the dish soap.
  • Pour cooking oil slowly down the side of the container onto the water.
  • Pour colored rubbing alcohol down the side of the container onto the oil.
  • After liquids have settled into layers and discussion has slowed, STIR THE LIQUIDS!
  • Observe!

Geek Celebrates Hanukkah With Science: Day Three

Unconventional holiday traditions are fun for the whole family! So far this year, my family has celebrated Hanukkah by launching rockets indoors and constructing small boats in order to sink them. Today we’re delving deeper, into the very language of science. That’s right; it’s math time.

Roger Bacon said, “Mathematics is the gate and key of the sciences. … Neglect of mathematics works injury to all knowledge, since he who is ignorant of it cannot know the other sciences or the things of this world.” After today’s celebration, my son says, “Mmm, delicious math!”

The instructions for this experiment are simple (materials are in bold):

  • First, open a small bag of multi-colored candies.
  • Count the candies, and note on a chart how many candies were in the bag.
  • Sort candies by color and note on the chart how many candies you have of each color.
  • Repeat several times! (We opened eight bags, one at a time to avoid mixing candies.)
  • For fun, chart total candies, average candies per bag, and percent of each color.
  • Translate your data into a bar graph, line graph, and pie chart for easy comparisons.
  • Analyze and discuss your data before devouring the samples!

Geek Celebrates Hanukkah With Science: Day Two

Hanukkah is the festival of lights, and in my family, we celebrate with illuminating science experiments. Yesterday, we launched a balloon rocket, and today we’re sinking ships. Well, tin foil boats, actually, but this small experiment holds greater drama than you might expect. We thought it would be a simple to float and then sink a couple of flimsy dinghies, but we were surprised but the tiny vessels’ epic buoyancy.

Initially, I’d hoped to introduce the concept of density to my son, but the ‘Floating and Sinking’ experiment provides an excellent gateway to talking about volume, fluid displacement, and the many other contributions of Archimedes, including the origin of “Eureka!” as the go-to exclamation of scientific discovery. As an added bonus, this — like all good experiments — gives the opportunity to practice the scientific method. Of course, sometimes the most fun is had when the experiment doesn’t go as planned…

The instructions for this experiment are simple (materials are in bold):

  • Shape a boat from tin foil.
  • Drop it in a container of water to see if it floats.
  • Crumple the foil boat to see if it sinks.
  • If not, shape another foil boat and float it.
  • Place objects, like pennies, paper clips or small magnets, in the boat until it sinks.
  • Repeat!

Special note: In honor of Archimedes, try this experiment at bath time!

Geek Celebrates Hanukkah With Science: Day One

Every year, my family celebrates the eight days of Hanukkah with eight fun experiments. We’re at it again this year, starting with a balloon rocket experiment. It’s an easy, playful way to demonstrate Newton’s third law of motion. It’s also a good bridge to talking about air pressure, thrust, velocity, and a gateway to a host of other interesting physics experiments.

The instructions for this experiment are simple (materials are in bold):

  • Inflate a balloon and tape a drinking straw to it.
  • Let the balloon deflate.
  • Tape a thin string to one chair and feed the free end of the string through the straw.
  • Tape the free end of the string to another chair and pull the string taught.
  • Re-inflate the balloon, and pinch the end, but don’t tie it.
  • Release!
  • Repeat!

Watch our demonstration in the video above to see how it’s done!