Recommended gift ideas from faculty and staff members

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Still got some holiday shopping left to do? Don’t worry, Penn State Behrend’s faculty and staff members have you covered. Here are some of their top suggestions for gifts that are both fun and educational.

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Ideas provided by Tracy Halmi, senior lecturer in chemistry

  • Weather station. Any future meteorologists on your gift list? This is perfect as it accurately measures the temperature, humidity, and wind speed. $100.
  • Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe. This book offers never-before-seen photographic representations of the 118 elements in the periodic table. We’re all familiar with aluminum and copper, but what exactly does Copernicium look like? This book will show you. $15.
  • ThinkGeek products. Whether it’s Marvel, Minecraft or the Millennium Falcon, everyone knows geek is the new cool. This website offers items that will surely satisfy any “geek” on your gift list. Various prices.

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Ideas provided by Dr. Richard Zhao, lecturer in computer science and software engineering

  • Custom photo jigsaw puzzle. It never hurts to give a gift with a personal touch, and jigsaw puzzles can be a fun, challenging task. $14.
  • LEGO Star Wars. The new movie is right around the corner, so anything Star Wars is guaranteed to be a hot item this holiday season. However, why not inspire a little creativity with a LEGO Star Wars set? There’s one available in every price range. Various prices.
  • Make-Your-Own Robots. Thanks to Makershed.com, you can choose from a number of options and create your own small robot from scratch. $20-$500.

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Ideas provided by Melanie Ford, director of Youth Education Outreach

  • Blink Blink DIY kits. These kits are perfect for girls interested in any of the STEAM fields as they integrate art, fashion, simple circuits, and e-textiles into the hands-on building process. Kids can create a number of fun items, including cards, paper lamps, origami, scarves, and light-up leggings. $39-$89.
  • Makey Makey. Dubbed the “Invention Kit for Everyone,” Makey Makey makes it possible to connect a computer to almost any object. It could be a banana, an ice cube or a living person, but basically any material that can conduct at least a tiny bit of electricity can be used. $50.
  • K’Nex. These are similar to LEGOs but a bit more advanced. K’Nex really emphasize engineering and physics principles, allowing the builder to create some pretty awesome things like roller coasters and Ferris wheels. Various prices.

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Idea provided by Dr. Mary Ellen Madigan, director of enrollment management

  • Adult Coloring Books. Have someone on your gift list who is always stressed-out? Adult Coloring Books  are an Amazon No. 1 National Bestseller, and provide hours and hours of stress relief, mindful calm, and fun, creative expression. $9.

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