Pocket microscopes, walking shoes, ‘Yertle the Turtle” top Wake Forest faculty Christmas list

Some Wake Forest University faculty members have compiled a fun and educational gift list for the 2000 holiday season.

From the energetic young child to the finicky adult, the following suggestions—from experts—will help make kids of all ages thrilled on Christmas morning.

“Most scientists and engineers grew up building things as children,” says Rick Matthews, professor and chair of Wake Forest’s physics department. “Legos and Lincoln Logs are great outlets for creativity.”

Mark Welker, a professor of chemistry, recommends the modern-day version, K’NEX. They are available at www.carolina.com, the Web site for Carolina Biological Supply. “Their Web site has a lot of neat stuff for people who are interested in math and science,” he says. “The products cover everything from biotechnology and genetics to environmental science and ecology.”

A pocket microscope also tops Matthews’ list. “Pocket microscopes are rugged, small and easy to use,” says Matthews. “They’re great for kids to look at fabric, leaves or newsprint.”

Leah McCoy, associate professor of education, recommends an improved-upon classic. “I’m buying my four-year-old niece a Pretend-and-Play Cash Register,” she says. “It will help her with learning to count money and counting in general.”

The cash register includes sound effects, play money, a solar calculator and an activity book.

“Books make great presents because they’re a gift that might get passed on,” says Barbara Bennett, a visiting assistant professor of English who teaches about Southern authors. “I like Southern genre books because they tell us about who we are.” She recommends “Prodigal Summer,” by Barbara Kingsolver and “Cathedrals of Kudzu,” a collection of essays and letters on Southern life by North Carolina journalist Hal Crowther.

Fred Horton, J.T. Albritton Professor of Religion, recommends “The New Jerusalem Bible” and the “New Revised Standard Version” of the Bible. “My grandfather said that you ought to use a Bible up every five years,” Horton says. “I agree. And don’t buy something you’d be afraid to write in.”

For younger readers, Dr. Seuss’s “Yertle the Turtle” makes Associate Professor of Political Science Katy Harriger’s list. Harriger uses the children’s book to teach serious lessons in her college classroom. “It offers a good lesson for children and adults,” she says. “The story is an allegorical tale about tyranny and freedom, in this case it’s about tyrannical turtles and the rights of turtles everywhere.”

Health & Exercise
Michael Berry, health and exercise science professor, suggests new exercise equipment this Christmas could make the difference in a decision to be fit. “Anything that motivates people to be more active is a great present,” he says. “Whether it’s a bicycle, dumbbells or even new walking shoes.”

A treadmill is the best choice for indoor exercise equipment, says Don Bergey, exercise coordinator for Wake Forest’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. “Decide how much you’re willing to spend and get the largest motor and walking surface for the money,” he says. “And don’t forget to ask about warranty and service options.”

“Given the busy nature of our daily lives, I would encourage everyone to consider giving a gift of relaxation and rejuvenation,” says John Friedenberg, director of the Wake Forest Theatre. “A play fits the bill admirably.”

Friedenberg says tickets to any live theatre performance will inform, entertain and refresh. In particular, he recommends two spring productions of the Wake Forest Theatre, “Off the Map” and “School for Scandal.” Call 336-758-5295 for tickets.

Miniature Mata Ortiz pots from Chihuahua, Mexico, are popular at Wake Forest’s Museum of Anthropology gift shop. “These are highly valued by collectors and each pot is signed by a well-known potter,” says Mary Jane Berman, associate professor of anthropology and curator of the museum. Also in the gift shop are hand-painted Christmas ornaments from Africa, soapstone figurines from Kenya and a variety of handcrafted jewelry. Call 336-758-5282 for more information.

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