What's on your list?

Time to give gift ideas for those on your naughty and nice lists. Books, science or faith related items, please.


Tagged this as Jesus & Education :rofl:

I got the “God Made” picture book series from Faraday for my little one.

I’ll tell you what I read this year that I recommend whole heartedly:
All My Knotted Up Life by Beth Moore
Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
What is the Bible? by Rob Bell
Freeing Jesus by Diana Butler Bass
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (BioLogos Book Club book this year)


Does it have to be books?

If I were giving science-based gifts I’d want to give ones that are hands-on and practical. Perhaps a microscope, or a telescope, or an electronics kit, or something like that.

This is something that is all too easily overlooked in discussions about science and faith. We need to help people to appreciate the very hands-on and practical nature of science, and to understand what that means in practice. I’m increasingly taking the view that the only way you can properly appreciate that is by getting your hands dirty on actual lab and field work.


For the price of a decent video card, you could gift an Oxford Nanopore MinION DNA sequencer.


Is anyone here familiar with Rhino 3D? It’s a very cool and powerful parametric graphics and CAD program – although nowadays I should call it an application. I received an email this morning from the publisher that v.8 (not related to the beverage :grin:) has been released. I would like the upgrade from v.7, please, if anyone is shopping. The outright price to give it to someone who doesn’t have a prior version is a little steep, but free support and no pricey subscription is required.

I’m buying myself this book on Amanita mushrooms. It focuses on around like 140-200 species of amanitas in north America. Going to get my cats some more food puzzles.


Does a new laptop count? My current one is getting slower especially where graphics are involved (I really don’t want to go to Windows 11 but will really have no choice). It will probably have to be a self-gift though.


I ordered myself an H-Alpha solar telescope, mount and accessories about 40 days ago for Christmas (is that how it works). Of course it’s on back order and every time I annoy my wife for the never ending supply of Amazon boxes that get delivered, she says “How is your telescope?”. I’m never going to hear the end of this one.

H-Alpha solar telescope

I have too much light pollution here or I would have just went with an 8” or 10” Dobsonian. But I fear given I would want to drive 40+ minutes for nighttime sky viewing, and they are a bit bulky, it would end up collecting dust.

If you go the telescope route a good book to supplement it with is Turn Left At Orion. One word of caution though is overinflated expectation. We are not going to see in a telescope the pictures we see on the internet or in astronomy magazine. But I remember first buying a 3” department store telescope ($200) about 25 years ago when I was in my teens and seeing bands on Jupiter and the rings of Saturn.


I’m hoping for some whirled peas…


STEM toys are always fun if there are young ones in your life (though they don’t have to be limited to kids). My son has really enjoyed GraviTrax marble runs and upgrades.

My kids have also enjoyed those rock and/or fossil kits where you can dig them out of a plaster brick (National Geographic makes some, but there are other brands too), and they often come with informational booklets about geology.

We got a butterfly kit from Insect Lore once that was very interesting – we got to see live caterpillars grow and change into butterflies.

For young ones, we really love this nature book series by Dianna Hutts Aston – lovely illustrations and poetic text.

For myself, I want to read more Adrienne Mayor this year – maybe her book about North American fossil legends.


If I could have a Christmas wish on this it would be that schoolkids could again go to the fossil-bearing formations along the local bay and dig fossils for themselves. That was a regular occurrence for decades, and was shut down by some government regulation – with the result that now as the cliff slowly crumbles the fossils end up in the county ditch and when it is moderately full get dug out and dumped as fill material on some county project. All the regulation did was make it so no one learned anything from those fossils!


That’s really sad. :expressionless: Was it due to safety concerns? (Since the cliff was crumbling and all…)

I would love to dig fossils, but don’t know of any areas around here for it. We have found places to sift through mine dirt and find interesting rocks though, and the kids love that.
(Edit: which is another gift idea – gift cards to museums and hands-on science experiences!)

Don’t fret that too much - I feel your pain on these matters. But as somebody who (as an IT person at school) has my feet solidly in both 10 and 11 … 11 being on my own laptop), I can reassure you it isn’t as painful as some might have you believe. There are tricks to make 11 look and feel more like 10 if you like. It certainly isn’t the debacle that Windows 8 or Windows Millenium ended up being. Meanwhile, it’s probably good to just bite the bullet, stay updated and get used to the new stuff.


Or bite the Apple.


What are those?

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I think he is referring to the bumper sticker: visualize whirled peas

(World peace)


100%! Been on a Mac for over ten years now. Just upgraded to a new laptop over the summer. I don’t miss windows at all, ever.

Cheap but awesome gifts for kids(stocking stuffers). I actually read how much is a million to high school students before refreshing scientific notation. The balancing bird will steal the show for a lot of kids. They will put expensive gizmos down while being fascinated by how it balances.


Yes! Yes! YES!!!

I always felt that if I had been able to study basic school physics “in the garage,” where you’re going through the steps of figuring things out, like physicists who figured it out the first time got to do, the connections between theory, practice and math would have been much clearer. I have a good mechanical mind, and had decent school math skills, but the connections were not obvious at all. Mr. Williams really expected me to take as much on faith as my pastor did. I always wanted to say every day in class: Show me.

It’s important to learn to build on students’ abilities, not waste them, because they’re the “wrong” ones. Teaching via hands on is real. It takes longer, though, than saying: Just memorize the table and the forumulas, will you?!

The kind of knowledge and conceptual building that goes with hands on kinds of work can’t be replicated another way, and stays longer once it’s grasped.


Yes, reading it aloud is the key. I havent found any down my grocery store aisle unfortunately…