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.

Behrend Reacts: What are you thankful for?

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By Nicole Krahe
Marketing Communication Student Assistant, Penn State Behrend

Studies have shown that being grateful has a significant impact on lives; it reduces stress levels and can even increase our life expectancy. In honor of the upcoming holiday, we asked Behrend students, faculty, and staff:  What are you most thankful for?

 

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Casey LaBuda, sophomore, Nursing, from Pittsburgh: “My mom. I always call her in the middle of the night when I’m having a breakdown about nursing.”

 

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Dr. Nancy Study, lecturer in engineering: “In answer to the question about what I’m thankful for this year, I would say it’s the same things I’m thankful for every day: my family and friends, and the privilege of having a job I enjoy. Of course I’m also thankful for the creature comforts in my life like a nice house to live in, an all-wheel drive vehicle to get around in the snow, a steady supply of caffeine via coffee and Twining’s English Breakfast Tea, and sturdy snow boots, but I’ve learned over the years that material things and money mean very little if you don’t have your loved ones and/or spend 40+ hours a week in a job that makes you miserable.”

 

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Morgan Corle, first-year student, Communication, from Avella: “I’m thankful for all the people that I’ve met here and become close with.”

 

Dorothy Kurylo

Dorothy Kurylo, campus coordinator for nursing programs and lecturer in nursing: “I am thankful especially for my family and friends. I am also thankful to be a faculty member of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. As a newcomer to Erie, I have become very thankful for my boots and my snowbrush. Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!”

 

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Amy Neal, first-year student, Division of Undergraduate Studies, from Erie: “The cold, so I’m able to appreciate the weather when it’s warm!”

 

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Mallory Carson, first-year student, Political Science, from Erie: “I’m thankful for black lipstick.”

 

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Kristen Comstock, assistant director of alumni relations: “I am thankful to work for my lovely alma mater. Every day I get to interact with many of our fantastic 35,000 alumni. Plus working at Behrend means I get to enjoy, more often than most alumni, the delicious Bruno’s chicken wraps! And I cannot forget I am grateful for friends, family, health, happiness, and shoes!”

 

Mary-Ellen Madigan

Dr. Mary-Ellen Madigan, senior director of enrollment management: “I am thankful for my kids—now grown.  They both have good jobs and live independently.  Along with them, I am thankful for my three beautiful and fun granddaughters.  I’m especially thankful that they live nearby and I get to spend time with them.”

 

Don Birx's first Behrend portrait. Taken May 2010 by John Fontecchio

Dr. Don Birx, Chancellor:

“Thankful – Yes; for being in Erie and especially at Behrend.

Yes it is cold,

but I have found hearts here are warm and friendships deep.

Yes there is lots of snow,

but it makes the days so much brighter – with a glint from the winter sun.

Sunsets are stunning, the hills full of grapes,

and the land slopes down to a great and beautiful lake.

Thankful – Yes, and for so much more……for all of you.”

 

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Dr. Dawn Blasko, interim associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of psychology:

“What am I thankful for this year?  Like everyone else I’ve seen today I’m supposed to be thankful that three feet of snow did not fall on Erie today, but went north instead. But, to be honest, a little part of me is disappointed. I’m invigorated by this crazy cold, slap in the face, start to winter. I had to buy new warmer clothes-even find some gloves and boots. My office is always freezing, so my family bought me an alpaca sweater-no wonder alpacas can hang out in the Andes-much better than polar fleece.

The first snow to me is always exciting. I know it sounds crazy to you snow haters, but to me growing up in the Poconos, the first snow was pure gold. It opened up a wealth of new fun activities. Best of all, was the ultimate prize- THE SNOW DAY!

Even though we don’t have snow days at Behrend, (I guess we’re too tough for that), as a kid I clearly remember being snowed in with the whole family for days at a time. Mom, in her fox-furred hood, riding the toboggan, and Dad wobbly on his snow shoes walking the yard to measuring the snow in the deepest drift with his yard stick. There was no work, and no school. Time stopped, we pitched in to shovel the driveway then we were off into the untouched whiteness.  A soft fluffy blanket of white erasing all the ugly reality underneath.

Kids made trails around the neighborhood as we called all our friends out to play. We built snow forts to defend our territories and stored up snowballs for battle. We dug out the sleds from the basements and garages and went sleigh riding down the middle of the street. We held toboggan races—that were our own Olympic games.  Then there were the accidents, tremendous rolling crashes into banks of snow and sometimes into each other.

Who could forget the feeling of dragging yourself home, bruised, exhausted and soaking wet with numb feet and hands? We’d have some warm soup, put on dry gloves and go out again until the lack of light and parents calling us for supper ended the fun. The perfect snow was short-lived, in a few days the plow trucks and cinders would ruin our hill, school and work would start again, and we would be back to the usual routine.

This might be a long winter, and by February, if not before, even us diehard northerners will be tired of it. But, In the meantime, if the snow is just right, break the routine and make a new memory. The yard behind my office in Glenhill Farmhouse sure looks like some prime territory to defend.”

 

 

Behrend Reacts is a regular Thursday feature at the Behrend Blog that tries to get the campus pulse on a current topic, whether it’s serious or trivial. If you have a question to suggest for Behrend Reacts, please email Nicole Krahe at ndk5089@psu.edu.

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Far from Home: First snowfall leaves favorable impression on Craig Miranda

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Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Behrend.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

“Beep-beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep-beep!”

When Craig Miranda’s alarm went off at 6 a.m. last Thursday, he awoke with a feeling of eagerness. His friends warned him it was coming, but some things need to be seen to be believed.

“I was skeptical,” says Miranda, a first-year computer science major at Penn State Behrend. “When I looked outside, it was completely white. I immediately ran downstairs and I was the only person outside in shorts.”

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Craig Miranda had never seen snow until last week when the Erie region received more than foot of precipitation in 24 hours.

The Kuwait native had never seen snow before last week when the Erie region received nearly a foot in the span of 24 hours. In Kuwait, summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. Even in winter, average daytime temperatures rarely fall below 60 degrees.

Miranda says he longed for snow and cooler temperatures when he decided to come to college in the United States, so last week’s storm was a welcome sight.

“It was just unbelievable,” he says. “After my exam that morning, I had a snowball fight with friends who also live in Niagara Hall. I don’t know how to make a snowball, but I’m getting there.”

As the day went on, more snow began to accumulate. Overall, Erie received 12.6 inches of snow, the earliest occurrence of a snowfall of this magnitude for the region.

The heavy snowfall might have been a  burden for others, but Miranda remained enamored with every flake that fell. He even shared his happiness with his family back home.

“I Skyped with my parents and took them on a tour around campus,” he says. “It was awesome because they have never seen snow either. They were so thrilled and just wanted to be here, too.”

For Miranda, the snowfall helped paint a picture of the holiday season, which he had only ever seen on television before.

“I’ve always pictured Christmas as caroling with snow falling from the sky, but I’ve never seen it until now,” Miranda says.

Given that he chose to attend college in America’s snowbelt, last week was probably only the beginning of the fun for Miranda; last year, Erie recorded 138.4 inches of snow fall and earned the honor of America’s snowiest city.

His friends have warned him that he might eventually tire of the snow, but he’s not buying it.

“I doubt I’ll ever get bored of snow,” Miranda says. “Coming from Kuwait, where it barely ever even rains, snow is just marvelous.”

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