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An Educational Way to Expose the Root of the Matter

February 13, 1996|LYNN SIMROSS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Pet Plant is a new line of growing sets with "magic gel" that lets you see the roots of the plant growing beneath the surface of the transparent gel.

Developed by an Israeli biotech engineer, Pet Plant is marketed as a scientific learning tool for children 4 and older, but parents seem intrigued as well. Through nontoxic fluorescent gel--available in six colors--the plants sprout in two to 21 days.

Corn, for example, germinates in about two days; peppers, 10 to 14 days. When the plants reach the top of the growth chamber, it is time to transplant them to dirt. The gel is not reusable.

Pet Plant comes in single packs ($5.95 each) of five varieties: pea, eggplant, jacaranda, tomato and eucalyptus. There are also three-pack ($14.95) gardens featuring flowers, vegetables and herbs.

Pet Plant is available at TJ Maxx, Learningsmith, Linens 'n Things, World of Science, Frank's Nursery & Crafts, Teach Smart and many toy stores.

Tongues Untied: Franklin Electronic Publishers will debut its Translator Travel Ace, a credit card-sized Spanish/English translator, in May.

The handy device (4 inches by 2 1/2 inches by one-quarter inch) will contain 50,000 words and phrases, a spelling correction feature, a currency/metric converter and telephone codes for major cities. For more information on the translator ($29.95), call Franklin at (800) 266-5626.

A Different View: This spring Sharp Electronics will introduce its new digital VIEWCAM VL-D5000U camcorder, the first on the market with a 5-inch color LCD (liquid crystal display) view screen.

Users can record while holding the VIEWCAM away from the face, making it possible to enjoy the activity being recorded. It also features variable angle recording so users can shoot from almost any angle while watching the scene on the LCD view screen. This variable angle capability also allows that most egomaniacal pursuit: self recording.

The new model lists for $4,595. For more information, call (800) BE-SHARP.

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