Learning Ahead: May 11th-15th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 8 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


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Berkshire County

Friday, May 15, 7am-9am – ORNITHOLOGY: Learn about birds and search the skies for different migrant species with Mass Audubon at Canoe Meadows. Come every week to see how the species change as spring progresses! 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (>$)

Franklin County

Thursday, May 14, 7pm-9pm – LOCAL HISTORY: The Turners Falls Dam is the longest dam on the Connecticut River, and it dates back to 1866, when it was just a crib dam. Learn about the dam’s history at a talk with the Pioneer Valley Institute and Ed Gregory on May 14 at 7pm on the Greenfield Community College campus. This free talk, titled “The Evolution of the Turners Falls Dam,” is all about the history of the dam, the construction projects it has undergone, and how it impacted the development of what is now Turners Falls. The talk also looks at the planning of Turners Falls by Alvah Crocker, who sought to emulate cities like Holoyke and Lawrence, Massachusetts and make Turners Falls a planned industrial city. Older students who are interested in local history, industry, and urban planning would enjoy this exciting and informative talk. Call PVI at 413-775-1671 for more information. 1 College Drive. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, May 14, 7:30pm – LOCAL INDUSTRIAL HISTORY: What is potash? What role did it play in local economies of the past? What about its role in local history and industry? Learn about the importance of potash at a talk at the Colrain Historical Society by local historian Ralmon Black. He will discuss colonial asheries in the Hilltowns and how they affected the local economies and the landscape, and how these impacts can be seen and felt today. This is a good opportunity to learn about one of New England’s most important industries, and older students who are interested in discovering more about the Hilltowns’ past will enjoy this informative talk, which takes place in the Stacy Barn behind the Pitt House. Call 413-624-3453 for more information. Main Road. Colrain, MA.

Hampshire County

Monday, May 11, 6pm-8pm – SEED LIBRARY: Seed libraries are an incredible community resource for those interested in gardening, growing their own food, food security, and plant studies, and there will soon be one located in the Emily Williston Memorial Library, thanks to Feasthampton! Celebrate the opening of the new seed library on May 11 from 6pm-8pm, when there will be a free orientation and instructional talk from Backyard Seeds. Students of all ages and gardening experience levels can benefit from seed libraries, since they offer the opportunity to “check out” seeds and try different plantings to learn about gardening, how plants grow, what resources certain plants need, and more. Plus, they promote biodiversity, food access, and the sharing economy. Come to the library on May 11 to learn about this exciting new community resource! Call the library for information about hours and the event at 413-527-1031. 9 Park Street Easthampton, MA – Read more in our post, Feasthampton Celebrates Launch of Easthampton Public Seed Library.

Beginning Friday, May 15 – LOCAL HISTORY: The Porter-Phelps-Huntington House was built in 1752 by Moses and Elizabeth Porter and was central to the 600-acre farmstead known as “Forty Acres.” Today, the property is surrounded by over 350 acres of protected farmland, forest and river frontage. The Museum showcases the activities of a wealthy and productive 18th-century household including numerous artisans, servants and slaves who made “Forty Acres” an important social and commercial link in local, regional and national cultural and economic networks. Since 1799 there have been no structural changes to the house. In the 19th century the house evolved into a rural retreat for the family and in the mid 20th century became an early example of historic preservation. The museum is listed on the National Historic Register and contains the belongings of seven generations of one extended Hadley family. Opening this week on Friday, May 15, the museum will remain open through October 15, Saturday through Wednesday. The Museum also presents a series of special programs including Wednesday Folk Traditions concerts and Saturday teas. 413-584-4699. 130 River Drive (Route 47). Hadley, MA

Wednesday, May 13, 7pm – RELIGION STUDIES: Awake: The Life of Yogananda (2014; rated PG) is a biographical film about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga to the West in the 1920s. Amherst Cinema will screen the film on May 13. Older students interested in religion and yoga would enjoy the film. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. ($)

Thursday, May 14, 7pm – RACE STUDIES: As part of a series of films focusing on issues of race, the Jones Library and The Coming Together Project present a screening of Race: The Power of Illusion – Episode 3: “The House We Live In.” This video helps people understand modern-day racism and racial inequalities and would be best for older students and adults. There will be a discussion after the film. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Monday, May 11, 6pm – IMMIGRATION/LOCAL HISTORY: The Wistariahurst Museum’s spring lecture series, “Immigrant Communities in the Pioneer Valley,” continues on May 11 with a talk by Maria Salgado Cartagena, who will present, “Puerto Ricans: The Search for Prosperity in the Paper City.” This talk would be great for students who are interested in learning more about local immigrant communities, those who are descended from immigrants to the area, or those want to learn about the immigrant experience in the Pioneer Valley. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. ($)

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