Learning Ahead: June 22nd-26th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 12 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

Between 1918 and 1975, many New England resort estates ceased to exist. In his lecture at Ventfort Hall on Tuesday, June 23 at 4pm, “Here Yesterday, Gone Today: Lost Newport”, author Paul Miller will compare the history and current status of Lenox estates with Newport estates, highlighting the challenging realities that face existing structures. A Victorian tea will follow the presentation. Reservations recommended. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street, Lenox, MA ($$

Have you always wanted to learn to canoe but never had the opportunity? Maybe you canoes back in your camp days but haven’t been back out on the water since? Paddling on a flatwater stretch of a smaller river can be a great way to (re)gain comfort with canoeing, and the Housatonic Valley Association‘s Introduction to Canoeing lesson on Tuesday, June 23 from 4pm – 6pm offers just that! Canoes, paddles, and PFDs will be provided. Children who attend must be age 10+ and parents/guardians must participate with them. Preregister at 413-394-9796. South Lee, MA. (<$)

Watching an artist in process lends a lot to one’s appreciation and understanding of a work of art. On Thursday, June 25 from 2pm – 4pm, visit the Berkshire Museum today to view a Korean brush painting demonstration by Sungsook Setton, an accomplished Korean-American artist and calligrapher. Those inspired by the experience can try their hands at brush painting back at home! 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE with admission; $)

What happens when an injured hawk is found alongside the road? Can a bird of prey be returned to the wild after its injuries have been treated? How do human activities impact these animals? Learn the answers to these questions and “meet” a number of birds of prey at wildlife rehabilitator Tom Ricardi’s presentation at the Stockbridge Library on Thursday, June 25 at 2pm. If you’ve never been up close to a raptor, you won’t want to miss this! 413-298-5501. Stockbridge Station, 2 Depot Street, Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Meet some of the beautiful, powerful birds of prey who have been rehabilitated by Wingmasters, a Massachusetts duo who save raptors and incorporate them into educational programs on Thursday, June 25 at 6pm. Participants will learn about predator/prey relationships, food webs, adaptations, and humans’ impact on raptor life and habitat. Hosted by the Adams Free Library. 413-743-8345. 92 Park Street, Adams, MA. (FREE)

Franklin County

The Tilton Library presents outdoor Monday Night Music performances throughout the summer months, featuring local musicians! On Monday, June 22 at 7pm, young rockers Kalliope Jones will wow you with their energetic riffs and interesting, intelligent lyrics. 413-665-4683. 75 North Main Street, South Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

In 1862, the Land Grant Act made way for the creation of Land Grant institutions like UMass, MIT, and many others, for the express purpose of teaching practical agricultural, engineering, and science skills. On Wednesday, June 24 from 9:30am – 4pm, come see what your local Land Grant institution is doing these days at UMass Amherst‘s Agricultural Field Day. Older students and adults will enjoy guided tours through the farm and learning from professors and graduate students about the research efforts that are currently underway. Lunch will be provided. Closed toed shoes mandatory; hats and sunscreen, and pre-registration strongly encouraged! 413-545-5221. 89-91 North River Road, South Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Grab a blanket and head out to Pettingill Park for the annual Grasshoppas in the Park before Dark performance on Monday, June 22 at 7pm! This type of “dusk dance” has cultural ties to Toronto, Canada, and gives everyone an opportunity to welcome nighttime through music and dancing. Why not invite another family along to share the experience with you? Five short performances will entertain you, and you can bring along a picnic or bedtime snack, too. 413-695-1150. Main Street & Route 9, Cummington, MA. (DONATIONS)

Did you know that there are 13 intact dams along the Connecticut River? They range in height from 10 feet to 178 feet tall, and some produce hydroelectricity! Older students and adults will enjoy learning about when and why these dams were built from the South Hadley Historical Society’s Leo Lebonte on Wednesday, June 24 at 6:30pm. This event is part of the South Hadley Cultural Council‘s SH20 celebration highlighting South Hadley’s connection to the Connecticut River and its surrounding landforms, flora, fauna, and history. 413-538-5045. South Hadley Public Library, 2 Canal Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Did you know that a black hole is not a hole at all, but a superdense sphere of matter? What is spaghettification and where can we find an event horizon? Of all of the mysteries of deep space, black holes continue capture our imagination and curiosity like nothing else. On Wednesday, June 24 at 6:30pm, naturalist and educator Kevin Kopchynski will help older students and adults gain an understanding of quantum physics, black holes, and the origins of the universe at this special event at the Wilbraham Public Library. 413-596-6141. 25 Crane Park Drive, Wilbraham, MA. (FREE)

Bring a lunch and your interest in Victorian era artists and collectors to the final Springfield Museums “Museums a la Carte” series before the program’s summer hiatus on Thursday, June 25 at 12:15pm. Today, Guy McLain, director of the Wood Museum of Springfield will discuss art from the likes of John Singer Sargent and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. 413-263-6800 x 488. Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA (< $)

Cooking is a multifaceted learning experience, as cooks need to follow recipes (literacy) and measure ingredients (math & science). Food also brings us together and gives us opportunities to share our stories. The Hunger Games Cooking event on Thursday, June 25 from 6pm – 7:30pm with Chef Delaney at the Wilbraham Public Library will engage rising 6th – 12th graders in collaborating and creating foods from the popular Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook which everyone will be able to sample. Registration begins June 11. 413-596-6141. 25 Crane Park Drive, Wilbraham, MA. (FREE)

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