Learning Ahead: May 18th-22nd, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 14 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.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


Berkshire County

Wednesday, May 20, 7pm-8:30pm – ANIMAL STUDIES: Explore the Beaver Ponds at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary! Sanctuary volunteer Butch Ptak will lead the expedition, and visitors will learn not only about the habits of beavers, but about the various types of wildlife who congregate at beaver ponds and the long-lasting effects that beaver ponds have upon habitats. This event is appropriate for all ages. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. ($)

7am-9am – BIRD STUDIES: 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

Tuesday, May 19, 6:30pm – WOOD CARVING: Award-winning Maine wood carver Erwin Flewelling will be at the Dickinson Memorial Library on May 19 to discuss wooden bird carving. There will also be an exhibition of Flewelling’s work on display. 413-498-2455. 115 Main Street. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, May 21, 7pm-9pm – BEEKEEPING: The Franklin County Beekeepers Association‘s April meeting is on May 21 at Frontier Senior Center. Anyone interested in learning more about beekeeping can attend the meeting to learn and meet local beekeepers. 67 North Main Street. Deerfield, MA.

Hampshire County

Monday, May 18, 7-8pm – WILD EDIBLES: Garlic Mustard! It’s a invasive species that makes a tasty pesto! At the Kestrel Land Trust Office there will be a demo to learn how to identify the Garlic Mustard Plant so you can forage for this wild (invasive) edible and make your own pesto dishes. Learn why invasive species are a problem and how you can eat your way through a solution to it’s eradication. RSVP Jennifer@kestreltrust.org. 284 N. Pleasant St. Amherst, MA (FREE)

Wednesday, May 20, 5:30pm-8pm – PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Support Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity at Feast for Habitat on May 20. This meal features delicious food and drinks from local restaurants and breweries, a silent auction, music, and more. Takes place at Eastworks building. 413-586-5430. 116 Pleasant Street. Easthampton, MA. ($$$)

Wednesday, May 20, 6pm-7pm – LOCAL HISTORY: Learn about the history of the Academy of Music on one of their building tours! The Academy’s former manager, Duane Robinson, will talk about the history of the theater. This tour would be great for older students and adults interested in local history or in learning about the history behind one of Northampton’s most well-known buildings. Space is limited; registration is required. 413-584-9032 x105. 274 Main Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, May 21, 6:30pm – CRIMINAL JUSTICE/FORENSIC SCIENCE: Do you ever wonder how crimes are solved? How do detectives know what evidence is important? How do real life crime scene investigations differ from those on television? Teens can learn more about forensics and criminal justice at a forensics program with Northampton High School forensic science teacher Kate Dollard at the Lilly Library. In this free program, Dollard will teach teens the basics of forensic science and crime scene investigation. The program is a great chance for teens to learn if this is a field they would like to pursue in the future, or they can come just for fun – participants can compare what they learn about forensic science with what they’ve seen on TV or in movies! Call the Lilly Library for more information at 413-587-1500. The library is located at 19 Meadow Street in Florence, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Tuesday, May 19, 10am – CULINARY ARTS: Self-directed teens interested in cooking and the culinary arts can attend a free presentation with James Beard Award-winning chef Sanford D’Amato at the Storrowton Carriage House. Glenmeadow Retirement is offering this program, which is titled, “From Garden to Table: A Celebrated Chef Creates with Summer Herbs.” D’Amato will speak about his life as a professional chef, his background and training, and will discuss summer cooking. With the bounty of fruits and vegetables and school being out, summer is the perfect time for students to learn how to cook! This presentation will get older students interested in cooking with seasonal ingredients. Call Glenmeadow to pre-register at 413-567-7800. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA

Tuesday, May 19, 6pm-7pm – HISTORY: Join Storrowton Village for an interactive tour, Storrowton and the Civil War, that gives you a look into the past at what life was like for New Englanders during the Civil War. You can sit in on a recruitment meeting, speak with a blacksmith about the increase of manufacturing during the war, hear from women about sewing and making clothes, learn about how the war affected families, and what the impact on local industries was. This event is appropriate for older teens and adults only. Registration is required. 413-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. ($)

Tuesday, May 19, 6:30pm – HISTORY: As part of their Living History series, the Noble and Cooley Center for Historic Preservation presents the Southwick Gold Dome Bell Ringers. Best for older students and adults interested in history. 413-357-6321. 42 Water Street. Granville, MA. (>$)

Thursday, May 21, 9:30am – HIKING: Join the Naturalists’ Club for a Walk at Robinson State Park. Older students and lifelong learners can explore this lovely park and search for birds and other wildlife. Call to register and to find out meeting place. 413-786-1805. Agawam, MA.

Thursday, May 21, 12:15pm – HISTORY/NARRATIVE: This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “Sidonia’s Thread: A Study in Resilience,” with Hanna Perlstein Marcus. She will discuss her mother’s life, from her time in the Bergen Belsen Displaced Persons Camp during WWII to her life in Springfield. Best for older students. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

Thursday, May 21, 3pm-4pm – BOOK GROUP: Join the Westfield Athenaeum for a teen book discussion group on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Students in grades 6-12 can come to discuss the book and make new friends. This is a great chance for teens to do some outside-of-school reading while interacting with their peers in a discussion group. Please register in advance. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

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