Learning Ahead: July 13th-17th, 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

Thursday, July 16. 2:30pm — HISTORY/ARCHITECTURE: The Norman Rockwell Museum‘s 36 acres are dotted with many interesting historical buildings. Tour the property and explore the structures and their stories with a knowledgeable guide from the museum. Appropriate for older students and adults. 413-298-4100. 9 Route 183, Stockbridge, MA. ($)

Thursday, July 16. 8pm — SHAKESPEARE: Romeo and Juliet is this year’s production for Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park, and it will be performed in the brand new pavilion at the First Street Common. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and settle in for a night of entertainment under the stars! Runs Thursdays-Sundays through August 2. 413-367-4253. 874 North Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, July 17. 10am-12pm — POLLINATORS: Pollinators are essential to our ecosystems and food supply, yet many face challenges due to climate change and human activities. Learn how to create a pollinator garden of shrubs, trees, perennials, and grasses, with an emphasis on native plants, in the Gardening for Pollinators workshop offered by Project Native through Berkshire Community College. Bring a hat, sunscreen, gloves, water bottle, and closed-toe shoes. Rain or shine! Registration requested. 413-274-3433. 342 North Plain Road, Housatonic, MA. ($$)

Franklin County

Monday, July 13. 12pm-4:30pm — HISTORY/FIBER ARTS: Did you know that silk played an important role in Deerfield’s history? Visit Historic Deerfield‘s Silken Threads and Shimmering Cloth presentations to learn all about the silk industry. Check out the live silkworm exhibit, reel silk from a cocoon, and try painting on silk fabric! Many examples of silken cloths and embroideries will be on display throughout the museum as well. This hands-on learning opportunity will be available daily through August 13, 2015. 413-775-7127. 84B Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA. ($)

Hampshire County

Monday, July 13. 7:30pm — PARENT ADVISORY COUNCIL: Volunteering in your community helps build important connections with others and also helps generate nuanced understandings of how your town operates. Consider participating in the South Hadley Family Center‘s Parent Advisory Council, which meets each month to plan programs and discuss ways to keep the SHFC going strong. 413-533-7096. The Thirsty Mind, Village Commons, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, July 15. 6:30pm — OUTDOOR CONCERT: The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum‘s Wednesday Folk Traditions performances give concertgoers the opportunity to experience a wide range of folk music from around the world. Tonight’s concert features Impulse Ensemble, a “free-flowing fusion of World Music, Jazz, and Spoken Word”. Those interested in picnicking on the grounds beforehand or securing a prime spot may arrive as early as 5pm to do so. 413-584-4699. 130 River Drive, Hadley, MA. ($)

Wednesday, July 15. 7:30pm — SHAKESPEARE: The outdoor grounds at the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies provides an ideal backdrop for Hampshire Shakespeare Company‘s performance of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor! Please arrive early to purchase your ticket and be in your seat by 7:30. In the event of rain, the performance will be moved indoors. 650 East Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. ($)

Thursday, July 16. 5:30pm-7pm — STEM: Drop in to a Holyoke Codes Lab Night any Thursday in July to try out LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kits, Scratch projects, learn a programming language, and much more! These unstructured sessions allow participants to meet one another, collaborate, ask questions of experienced volunteers, and explore a variety of coding-related activities. All ages welcome. Registration requested. Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, July 16. 7:30pm — YIDDISH MUSIC: The fourth annual Yidstock Festival of New Yiddish Music offers opportunities to enjoy music you might not encounter elsewhere, and to learn about and celebrate Jewish culture. This year’s festival runs July 16-19 at the Yiddish Book Center and features both legendary performers and up-and-coming artists. The Grammy-winning Klezmatics kick off this year’s festival with a rousing concert on Thursday evening. Those interested in related talks and workshops should view the full schedule of events. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-256-4900 x 114. 1021 West Street, Amherst, MA. ($$)

Friday, July 17. 10am-12pm — VOLUNTEERING: Gardening allows you to connect with the Earth, and gardening with others allows you to build connections with folks in your community, too. Then there’s the satisfaction of helping grow food, and the improved understanding of the origins of our foods! Food for All Amherst offers several fabulous volunteer opportunities throughout the summer in which you and your children can help with planting, seeding, and weeding. Light refreshments provided. Mass Agricultural Learning Center, 911 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Friday, July 17. 7pm — LOCAL HISTORY: Census data offers an interesting look back into history. Michael Packard of the Goshen Historical Society will use Goshen’s 1790 census to share stories about who was living there, where they came from, which families ended up settling in the area, and which ones moved on to other opportunities. 413-268-7120. Town Hall, 42 Main Street, Goshen, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Wednesday, July 15. 6:30pm — HISTORY: The historic buildings of the Noble & Cooley drum factory provide an excellent backdrop for Rick Spencer’s talk, “To End All Wars: Songs for the 1st World War.” If you have yet to visit the Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation, which celebrates the “Yankee Ingenuity” that flourished through Western Massachusetts through the 19th century, this is a great opportunity to check it out! 413-357-6321. 42 Water Street, Granville, MA. (FREE)

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