30 Community Highlights: Fossils to Fire. Kirtan to Orchestra.

Ants to Grasshoppas. Fossils to Fire. Kirtan to Orchestra. Earth to Outerspace… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Summer Solstice

Friday, June 21st, marks the first day of summer, the longest day of the year!  Celebrate the Summer Solstice at UMass at sunset this evening.  Professors from the UMass Department of Astronomy will be at the UMass Sunwheel in Amherst inviting the public to join them on the longest day of the year.  Learn about the significance of solstices and equinoxes and the history of the UMass Sunwheel at this participatory community event.  Gather with your friends & neighbors, mark the seasons, and learn a little while you’re at it!


EntomologyAnimal StudiesNature ScienceArchaeologyHistoryGeologyLibrary AdventuresAstronomyFilm, Dance & Music StudiesFashion StudiesHighlights in the Hilltowns


ENTOMOLOGY: Butterflies & Ants

Contribute to Project Native’s Butterfly House by joining in a Summer Butterfly and Bug Safari in Saturday morning, June 22nd in Housatonic! Walk the grounds looking for butterflies, caterpillars, and eggs to relocate to the Butterfly House. Learn about this order of insects, Lepidoptera, and gain skills in finding and even identifying butterflies and caterpillars and by learning about their host plants.

Want to learn more about Myrmecology, the study of ants? Aaron Ellison and Elizabeth Farnsworth, ecologists and co-authors of the new Field Guide to the Ants of New England, are leading an ant walk at the Hitchcock Center in Amherst on Saturday at noon for those who are interested in learning more about these insects. This free walk will be spent learning how to find, identify, and collect ants, although it will also focus on the ecology of ants and the role they play in local ecosystems.

ANIMAL STUDIES: Herptiles & Mammals

Hurray for Herps!” Discover the amazing world of reptiles and amphibians (known as “herptiles”) with Teaching Creatures at the Notch Visitors Center in Amherst on Saturday afternoon, June 22nd. Participants can meet these fascinating animals up close and learn about their differences, similarities, and behaviors.

Mammals are an incredible group of species including many different creatures from bats to whales to humans. At roughly 5,400 species, there is a lot to learn about mammals! Join Teaching Creatures at Tolland State Forest in East Otis on Monday afternoon, June 24th, for a workshop on mammals, where you can learn about animal behavior and ecology and even meet a few special mammals.

NATURE SCIENCE: Park Ecology & Wild Fires

Learn about water and ecology at Science in the Parks in Pittsfield with science educator Lisa Provencher on Saturday morning, June 22nd! This a great chance for kids to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and nature-based learning during the summer months. Students will have the opportunity to collect water samples and run pH tests, identify aquatic plants, and look for insects and amphibians, teaching them the importance of environmental stewardship and the value of local parks and habitats at this free event.

Western Gateway Heritage State Park presents “The Nature of Fire,” a lecture for older students to be held in conjunction with their summer exhibit, “Wildfire!” On Saturday afternoon in North Adams, stop in to learn about the history and science of nature’s most dynamic element! This illustrated lecture will give an introduction to the exhibit, which covers all aspects of wildfire, from causes to management.

ARCHAEOLOGY

As part of the “Dig Into Reading” summer reading program in Amherst, the Jones Library, the Beneski Museum of Natural History, and the Mead Art Museum are collaborating for the event, “Dig It! A Festival of Art, Books, and Fossils” on Saturday, June 22nd. Youth participants can learn about archaeology and uncovering fossils at the Beneski Museum, and about human history and culture at the Mead. Archeology are a great way to discover history, both natural and human, and there will be tons of events for families to help them do so at this free collaborative event.

Students in grades 1-4 and their parents are invited to the East Longmeadow Public Library on Wednesday, June 26th, for an evening of hands-on science exploration! There will be stations set up around the library, each focusing on different fossils and ways for kids to learn about them, open to kids enrolled in the summer reading program.

HISTORY

Learn about local history and celebrate Rev. Samuel Harrison, the chaplain of the all-black 54th regiment during the Civil War, at Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival’s Faith and Freedom Walk in Pittsfield on Saturday afternoon, June 22nd. This free guided walk will begin at the Harrison House Museum and end at the Second Congregational Church where Rev. Harrison was a pastor. Will Singleton, Ed.D., president of the NAACP Berkshire County Chapter, will speak after the walk.

The Stockbridge History Museum located in the Stockbridge Library will host a living museum with a program called, Tea with Abigail on Saturday afternoon. Abigail Williams (1721 – 1791 ) will be receiving callers for tea in the Library’s Bement Room. Nineteenth and early twentieth century Stockbridge ladies (all in period costumes) will be stopping by for tea and local gossip of their times. Tables will be set up so guests may partake of refreshments as well as listen to and join in the conversation. A fun, interactive way for older students to learn about local history.

Would you like to learn more about historic New England gravestone art and epitaphs? The Gravestone Girls will be giving a lecture at Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield on Tuesday evening, June 25th, on the art and history of gravestones, as well as their inherent symbolism. They will also present a virtual tour of Northfield’s cemeteries that will teach local history – you may be surprised at how much you can learn by studying gravestones!

GEOLOGY

Earthworks with Mad Science at S. White Dickinson Memorial Library in Whatley on Tuesday evening, June 25th. Children ages 5 and up will be introduced to the science of geology, examining three different rock types and learning how and where they formed. They can also investigate tectonic plates and learn how their movements cause stress on the Earth causing movements can cause mountains to form, earthquakes to occur, and volcanoes to erupt.

LIBRARY ADVENTURES

The Sunderland Public Library is having a Star Wars Symposium on Saturday afternoon, June 22nd. Kids ages 5yo and older are invited to come in costume and play Star Wars trivia, participate in a costume contest and a show-and-tell activity, learn about the history of “the galaxy far, far away,” and more!

Kicking off the Meekins Library summer reading program, “Stand-Up Chameleon” Jackson Gillman will perform “A Riot in the Garden,” a farm/science-based performance for all ages on Saturday morning in Williamsburg. Gillman’s performances often include comedy, drama, music, storytelling, dance, sign language, and more! Following the performance, there will be ice cream sundaes!

Join the East Longmeadow Public Library on Wednesday late morning, June 26th, for Animal Tales with the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. Kids who are enrolled in the summer reading program can come and hear stories about the animals at DPVHS, learn about the shelter and how reading can help the shelter, and even meet some of the animals!

Roger Tincknell’s Earth Rhythms is an interactive music program that celebrates the natural world and teaches environmental awareness and stewardship. Good for all ages, Tincknell’s performance at the East Longmeadow Public Library on Thursday late morning, June 27th, encourages audience participation through singing, moving, and playing percussion!

“Dig Into Reading” with the Stockbridge Library at their summer reading kick-off event featuring Davis Bates on Friday afternoon, June 28th! Bates is a professional storyteller who will share songs and stories about gardening, nature, family, and more. “Dig Into Reading” is a national summer reading program to help kids develop language skills and learn to enjoy reading.

ASTRONOMY

Explore the night sky from the highest natural point in Massachusetts on Saturday evening, June 22nd in Lanesborough at a free Star Party in the Berkshires! Mt. Greylock Public Star Parties provide an opportunity for families to observe the night sky using a variety of different telescopes. The summit of Mt. Greylock is an excellent place to view the stars and planets because of its low light pollution and low horizons.

FILM, DANCE & MUSIC STUDIES

As part of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Lift Ev’ry Voice, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first African-American classical ballet company in the United States, will perform an assortment of both classical and contemporary ballets on Saturday afternoon, June 22nd in Becket. This is a rare opportunity to see this renowned ensemble perform right here in Western MA!

The Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton will host a screening of the classic silent film Phantom of the Opera (1925), adaptation of the Gaston Leroux novel of the same title, on Sunday, June 23rd. Digitally restored, retaining the elaborate color scheme of the original, and accompanied by a live score performed by Alloy Orchestra, the film is “as creepy today as it was 75 years ago.” Considered to be one of the scariest and most influential horror films of all time, this event is recommended for older students interested in film studies and adults.

As part of the Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays, Tanglewood in Lenox will hold a Family Fun Fest for children of all ages on Friday afternoon, June 28th. Kids can participate in an educational scavenger hunt, try out orchestral instruments at the Instrument Playground, do arts and crafts activities, and watch performances and demonstrations by representatives from various museums and theatrical or musical groups.

FASHION STUDIES

Trace the evolution of an American icon at the opening of “Worn to Be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket” at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts at the Springfield Museums on Saturday, June 22nd. This exhibit features many different leather jackets, from hand-decorated jackets to those worn by celebrities, and examines the connections between fashion and society while acknowledging the historical context of the garment. There will also be vendors, music, and lectures.

Later in the week on Wednesday at noon, June 26th, join the Springfield Museums again for their weekly Museums á la Carte Lecture. This week’s lecture, “Fashioning Rebellion: Cultural Memory and the Leather Jacket,” focuses on the history of the leather jacket, its meaning, and its role in our understanding of both society and material culture. The lecture examines the subtle and not-so-subtle connections between fashion, history, and social movements.

HIGHLIGHTS IN THE HILLTOWNS

Come out to Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center for a volunteer work day on Saturday morning, June 22nd in Windsor. Tamarack Hollow is a newly-formed non-profit in the Hilltowns and needs help clearing land and trails so they can build their center in the near future. Volunteering together as a family teaches children the importance of helping others while bringing your family closer.

While not exactly IN the Hilltowns, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum is hosting a Community Day for residents OF the Hilltowns on Sunday in Hadley. Take a free tour of the Museum and learn about the Porter, Phelps, and Huntington families’ experience of historical events like the Revolutionary War and the abolition of slavery, as well as the changing role of women in America and the impact of various theological movements in local society over time. After the tour, enjoy free refreshments on the Museum’s back porch!

The fourth annual Grasshoppas in the Park Before Dark event is happening at Cummington’s Pettingill Memorial Field on Monday evening, June 24th. This is a community celebration for the whole family featuring music and dance performances by various different groups and based in many different styles and traditions. There will be several site specific performances around the park that encourage audience engagement by getting people to interact with a local park while experiencing different dance pieces.

Prakasa Yoga Studio welcomes WAH, an internationally recognized musician and yogi, for an intimate performance of sacred Indian music called Kirtan in Goshen on Monday evening. Kirtan is a traditional form of Indian music in which the musicians sing out a verse and the audience sings it back. It is described as being both fun and meditative. No experience is necessary, and participation is optional.

Denis Picard, of the Storrowton Village Museum, will speak at the Buckland Historical Society’s Pie Social on Friday evening, June 28th. His presentation, “Hand Shoemaking of the 17th to 19th Centuries: The Art and Mystery of an Historic Trade,” will be given in period costume with accompanying artifacts. After the talk, mingle with the Historical Society and community members over coffee, punch, and several homemade pies. Best for older students.

Other Hilltown Highlights this week include a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls on Saturday evening, and an afternoon of Scrabble at the Westhampton Public Library on Wednesday.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

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