Learning Ahead: July 27th-31st, 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

Tuesday, July 28. 6pm — MUSIC AT THE MUSEUM
Whether you bring your own picnic dinner or plan to partake of the tasty BBQ offerings on site, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to spend an evening on the grounds of the Clark Art Institute, dining and being entertained by some fine live music! This week features gypsy swing, jazz, and fusion band, Occidental Gypsy, a band named by the Boston Globe as a “best bet for weekend entertainment.” 413-458-0471. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, July 29. 7:30pm — OPERA FESTIVAL
Do you have a favorite aria, or is opera a new genre for you? The Berkshire Opera Festival offers folks–opera lovers and newbies alike– a wonderful opportunity to explore and enjoy opera music at a concert featuring some of opera’s greatest arias and ensembles. Audience members will be invited to stay afterwards for an interactive discussion about the opera company and its future plans. Reservations required. 646-559-0453. Ventfort Hall, 104 Walker Street, Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, July 30. 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 30. 2:30pm – 3:30pm — MUSIC HISTORY
Explore America’s musical roots through a community celebration of blues artists at the Mason Library. Percussionist, educator, and author Craig Harris will lead Drum Away the Blues, an all-ages, multicultural, participatory celebration which pays homage to influential American musicians like Louis Armstrong, Pete Seeger, and Ray Charles. 413-528-2403. 231 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Friday, July 31. 10:30am-12pm — ENTOMOLOGY
Basic naturalist skills are fun to develop and will serve a person for a lifetime! Learning to use a hand lens helps develop fine motor skills and increases one’s ability to observe, and subsequently, describe objects. Discovering how a field guide is organized and how it is used helps one establish a stronger understanding of systems of classification and allows for lots of practice with comparing and contrasting. Project Native‘s Bug & Butterfly Safaris invite children to develop and practice these skills as they traverse fields in search of eggs, caterpillars, and butterflies to relocate into the Butterfly House. All ages welcome; all children should be accompanied by an adult. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Rain cancels. 413-274-3433. 342 North Plain Road, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)

Franklin County

Monday, July 27. 12pm-4:30pm — TEXTILE HISTORY
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 27. 7pm — FILM STUDIES
Who spends their free time recreating the Vietnam War? What draws recreators to this intense and charged pursuit? Tonight In Country, a film about the men of Delta 2/5 (R), will be presented by its creator, filmmaker Meaghan O’Hara as a part of Hampshire College’s Creative Media Institute at Amherst Cinema. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (< $)

Tuesday, July 28. 10am-12pm — SERVICE-BASED LEARNING
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)

Tuesday, July 28. 7pm-8:30pm — FERMENTATION
Research continues to demonstrate the amazing ways in which bacteria affect our bodies in positive ways. Lactose acidophilus are the bacteria that give pickles that wonderful sour quality, and they also promote healthy digestion and immunity! Learn all about pickling and other means of food fermentation at the Westhampton Public Library‘s Picklefest. If you’d like to do some advance reading, check out Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road, Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, July 30. 5:30pm – 8pm — LAWN CONCERT
Grab a blanket and some friends and head to a concert at Kendrick Park, sponsored by the Amherst Business Improvement District! Tonight’s performance will feature Avi Jacobs & Mr. G. 413-345-2945. downtown Amherst, MA. FREE

Hampden County

Tuesday, July 28. 6:30pm — BEEKEEPING
Have you wondered about ways to support native bee populations or been interested in harvesting honey? Dan Conlan of Warm Colors Apiary offers an introduction to bees and beekeeping in the Pioneer Valley, sponsored by the Storrs Library. Registration required. 413-565-4181 x 1620. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, July 30. 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)

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