Recommended gift ideas from faculty members

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

In need of some last-minute holiday gift ideas for the young ones in your life? How about something that’s fun and educational at the same time?

We asked Penn State Behrend faculty members to give us a few suggestions.


School of Science

Ideas provided by Tracy Halmi, senior lecturer in chemistry

  • Science of the Month Club. Inspire the next generation of scientists by having hands-on science delivered to your door each month! For just $24.99 a month, you get everything you need to conduct exciting experiments.
  • Sunlight, Skyscrapers, and Soda Pop: The Wherever-You-Look Science Book. This fun book helps children learn the science behind simple, everyday activities. $9.95
  • Yahn Planetarium Gift Certificates. Have you heard? Penn State Behrend now has its very own planetarium. Help someone see worlds beyond their reach by purchasing a gift certificate, available in any denomination. For more information, contact planetarium director Jim Gavio ( or 814-898-7268).
  • Star Wars Lightsaber Thumb Wrestling. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that a new Star Wars film is hitting theaters next year. Celebrate by picking up this fun game. May the thumb be with you… $12.99


School of Business

Ideas provided by Eric Robbins, lecturer in finance

  • Board games. Life and Monopoly are two timeless classics. The fast-paced, rummy-like game Five Crowns is another great option. $9.99 to $24.99
  • Go Venture. This is a series of business simulation and financial literacy computer games that are good for kids of all ages. $495
  • Kano. This is the perfect gift for those with really innovative minds. Kano provides a kit kids can use to build their own computers, in a form similar to LEGOs, then play games on what they just built. $149.99


School of Humanities and Social Science

Ideas provided by Dr. Tom Noyes, associate professor of English and creative writing

  • Books! Some gift ideas never get old, and that’s the case here. In particular, Tom suggests using NPR’s Book Concierge app to find the perfect book for those on your shopping list.
  • Art supply sets. Participation in the visual arts helps children develop an imagination and sharpen their eye for detail. $13.99 and up


School of Engineering

Ideas provided by Dr. Matthew White, assistant professor of game development

  • Amiibos. Action figures + video games = tons of fun. $12.99
  • Pokémon. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Pokémon video games have been one of the hottest-selling video games for years, and that’s true in 2014 as well. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire qualify as two of the most popular games this season. $39.99
  • Xbox One. It’s one of the top game systems in the world, and for a limited time, it can be had at a lower price ($349) than normal.