Learning Ahead: September 28th-October 2nd, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 29 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

Monday, September 28, 7pm-9pm
FILM STUDIES ♦ The Manhattan Short Film Festival will screen some of the world’s best short films at the Berkshire Museum the weekend of September 25-28. The festival receives over 600 entries from more than 45 countries, which are then screened around the world so audiences can view and vote, with the winner announced on October 5. This is a unique opportunity for students interested in film to see these short films and to participate in the voting process. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Tuesday, September 29, 12noon
GREEK & ART HISTORY Go on a guided tour of the Williams College Museum of Art‘s exhibition, “Imagining the Trojan War,” with Ben Rubin, Assistant Professor of Classics. Learn about the works and the time period during which they were created on this tour. 413-597-2429. 15 Lawrence Hall Drive. Williamstown, MA.

Tuesday, September 29, 7pm
♦ CONTEMPORARY ART ♦ Students and lifelong learners interested in contemporary art can attend a talk by Forrest Nash at the Williams College Museum of Art. Nash, the founder of Contemporary Art Daily, will present, “Envisioning Curatorial Practice.” His talk will focus on his website, which features art exhibitions from around the world, and how he chooses artists and curates the site. 413-597-2429. 15 Lawrence Hall Drive. Williamstown, MA.

Thursday, October 1, 12:30pm-2:30pm
COSMETOLOGY ♦ Cosmetic industry leader Jane Iredale will be at Ventfort Hall for a special luncheon on October 1. She owns a mineral makeup line, which provides skin benefits. Makeup artists will be present for makeovers and attendees can learn Iredale’s story and about her cosmetics business. This is a unique opportunity for older students interested in cosmetology to meet a successful professional in the field! Please RSVP ASAP. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. ($$$)

Thursday, October 1. 5:30pm-7:30pm
AMPHIBIANS You may be familiar with searching under logs and stones for salamanders, but did you know that at night these fascinating creatures venture out from their hiding places into the cool of the evening? Head to the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and search the woodlands of Pleasant Valley in this Sunset Salamander Search, and learn about the lives of these amphibians. Children must be accompanied by an adult; open to families with children 3 and older. Registration required. 413-637-0320. Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, 472 West Mountain Rd., Lenox, MA ($)

Thursday, October 1, 7pm
THEATER/CULTURAL STUDIESBarrington Stage Company presents a production of Veils, which tells the story of an African-American Muslim student who goes to Cairo for a year abroad, hoping to feel understood. The Arab Spring begins while she is abroad, and the play deals with the impacts of the revolution on her life and new friendships in Cairo. Tickets available in advance. Performances take place at Boyd-Quinson Mainstage every Wednesday & Thursday at 7pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm through October 18. 413-236-8888. 30 Union Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Franklin County

Tuesday, September 29, 6:30pm-7:30pm
STILL ROOM RECIPES Learn about storing and preserving herbs at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library with experts from Stockbridge Farm. There will be a cooking demonstrations and recipes for dried herbs, vinegars, oils, syrups, butters, pastes, and more. Older students and lifelong learners interested in growing their own food, cooking, and preserving would enjoy this program. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Friday, October 2, 10am-4pm
COLONIAL COOKERYExperience life in an early New England kitchen at Historic Deerfield‘s Open Hearth Cooking demonstrations! Learn about traditional fall harvest foods like pumpkins, apples, and corn. These cooking demonstrations allow visitors of all ages to see what life was like in the past and the types of chores and activities they would do had they lived several hundred years ago! Free with admission. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. ($)

Friday, October 2, 11am
LOCAL HISTORY/ANCESTRY Explore Historic Deerfield‘s Old Burying Ground at their Focus Friday program on October 2. Learn about the history of the burial ground, who is buried there, and why. Focus Fridays are a great chance to learn about the Valley’s rich history. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. ($)

Hampshire County

Monday, September 28, 6pm
ASTRONOMYCome to The Hangar Pub and Grill for this month’s Sci.Tech.Café! The topic this month is “Missions to Space: Visiting a Comet, Pluto, and (hopefully) Asteroids?” Tim Spahr, CEO of NEO Sciences, Inc., will talk about comets, asteroids, dwarf planets, and more. Those interested in astronomy will enjoy this talk, which is designed for community members without science backgrounds. 10 University Drive. Amherst, MA.

Monday, September 28, 7pm
CIVIC ENGAGEMENTAre you a Northampton resident who’s concerned or curious about the city’s plans for the future as the effects of climate change become clearer? Community members can attend a public workshop at the Senior Center on September 28 to learn about the city’s plans for the future, which include street trees, energy systems, land use changes, and more, and to discuss what you would like to see done. This workshop is important for Northampton community members who are interested in urban planning and the future of climate change here in the Valley. 67 Conz Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, September 29, 4:30pm
BANNED BOOKS WEEK In celebration of Banned Books Week, the Jones Library is holding a First Amendment Film Festival featuring movies based on books that have been challenged or banned in the United States. At 4:30pm a family classic will screen, followed by another film at 6:30pm. Call the library for movie titles and ratings. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, September 29, 6pm
CIVIC ENGAGEMENTResidents of Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, and other surrounding towns are invited to attend a Route 9 Corridor Improvement Project meeting at Hopkins Academy on September 29. Learn about the project’s goals and timeline, meet the project team, ask questions, and provide feedback. This is an opportunity for community members to become involved in this project. 131 Russell Street. Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, September 29. 6-7:30pm
BICYCLE MAINTENANCE Are you ever worried heading out on a bike ride on your own that you’ll get a flat tire or some other mechanical problem and be stuck in the middle of nowhere? Here’s your chance to learn some valuable (and surprisingly easy) skills that might just save you the walk of shame home one day! During this class we’ll go over fixing flat tires (probably one of the most common issues that plague cyclists, newbies as well as veterans), broken chains, and general preventive maintenance of your drivetrain. Your instructors for the evening will be Sean and Liz, of Speed and Sprocket Cycle Works, who have a combined 25 years of repair experience and countless miles of road and trail pedaled behind them! Best for self-directed teens and life-long learners. Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. 413-584-3009. Easthampton, MA ($$)

Tuesday, September 29, 6pm-8pm
COLLEGE FAIR The 47th Annual Hampshire County College Fair takes place in the South Hadley High School gymnasium on September 29. Representatives from over 140 colleges will be present to talk about their school to interested students. This is a great chance to find out about different colleges and which would be a good fit. Park at Michael E. Smith Middle School and Mosier School and take the shuttle – runs every 15 minutes. Mosier Street. South Hadley, MA.

Tuesday, September 29, 7pm
INDIGENOUS ART/CULTURAL STUDIES Older students interested in art and cultural studies can attend a gallery talk for UMass’ Augusta Savage Gallery’s new exhibition, “A Mayan Tapestry: Ancient Wisdom, Traditional Life and the Contemporary World,” on September 29 at 7pm. The exhibit features works by artists from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and includes paintings, photographs, video, and youth art, all of which depict life in Lake Atitlan, cosmology, the impact of colonization, and the modern world. 413-545-5177. 180 Infirmary Way. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, September 29, 7pm-8:30pm
LOCAL FOOD/EVENT PLANNING Are you interested in local food and sustainability? The Westhampton Public Library‘s Grown in Westhampton group is brainstorming ideas for upcoming programs and would like your input! If you’re interested in local food this is a great chance to get involved with other like-minded community members. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, September 30, 12:30pm-1pm
MUSIC STUDIES/CLASSICAL MUSIC Take the opportunity to relax and enjoy live music at Smith College’s Music in the Noon Hour event. Smith faculty artists and friends will perform half-hour recitals of classical music. Takes place at Sweeney Concert Hall. 413-585-3222. 122 Green Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, September 30. 7pm
♦ ART STUDIES/ARTIST TALK The Smith College Museum of Art presents Martha Wilson, pioneering feminist artist and founder of Franklin Furnace, an artist-run space that champions the exploration, promotion and preservation of ephemeral and avant-garde art. In an artist’s talk, Wilson will trace the trajectory of her career as well as discuss her current work. Several of Wilson’s artworks can be seen in the current exhibition: Women’s Work: Feminist Art from the SCMA Collection, on view through January 3, 2016. Open to all. No reservations required. Carroll Room, 2nd Floor. Smith College Campus Center. Limited seating (early arrival encouraged). First-come, first-served. Northampton, MA (FREE)

Wednesday, September 30, 7pm
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT/SUSTAINABILITY Are you a Northampton resident who’s concerned or curious about the city’s plans for the future as the effects of climate change become clearer? The American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Design Assessment Team will be at the Northampton Senior Center on September 30 to discuss the future of climate change in Northampton, how to prepare, and their recommendations. This presentation is important for Northampton community members who are interested in urban planning and the future of climate change here in the Valley. 67 Conz Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, September 30, 7pm-8:30pm
LOCAL FRENCH HISTORY Learn about the French in New England at Forbes Library on September 30. Jeanne Douillard will present “Silent Presence – The French in New England,” which focuses on pre-Revolution France, immigration, politics, and more. Students interested in history and genealogy will enjoy this talk. 413-587-1017. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, October 1, 12:20pm-12:50pm
ART STUDIES/CERAMICS/CULTURAL STUDIES There will be a gallery talk at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum on October 1 – Assistant Curator of Education Kendra Weisbin and Assistant Curator of Visual and Material Culture Aaron Miller will present, “Innovation and Interaction: Ceramics from China and the Islamic World.” 413-538-2000. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, October 1, 5pm
ENTREPRENEURSHIP/SUSTAINABILITY/ECONOMICS The Franklin County Community Development Corporation is holding the Slow Money Pioneer Valley Entrepreneur Showcase on October 1 at the Smith College Conference Center. 4-6 local entrepreneurs focused on the Valley’s local food system will present about their business, their financing needs, and current capital-raising endeavors. Community members can ask questions and learn about each business at the presentation. Those who are interested in sustainability, food systems, business, or entrepreneurship would enjoy these presentations. 413-774-7204. 49 College Lane. Northampton, MA.

Thursday, October 1, 8pm
MUSIC STUDIES Bassist and band leader William Parker will perform “A Different Planet” with David Budbill at UMass’ Bezanson Recital Hall on October 1. Older students interested in music studies and performance would enjoy this event. Tickets available in advance. 413-545-2511. 151 Presidents Drive. Amherst, MA. ($)

Friday, October 2, 7pm
MUSIC HISTORY The Clapp Memorial Library presents “Music of the Dust Bowl Era – An Evening of Americana with a Dust Bowl Theme” on October 2. Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards will perform music that fans of folk, Americana, old country, and harmony will enjoy. Enjoy this concert and learn about music in the 1930s in America. 413-323-0417. 19 South Main Street. Belchertown, MA. (< $ SUGGESTED DONATION)

Friday, October 2, 7pm-8:30pm
PHYSICS/METAPHYSICS The Jones Library presents a lecture by scientist and innovator Marc Newkirk on October 2. Newkirk will talk about the convergence in thought between physics and metaphysics in simple terms that non-physicists can understand. Older students interested in physics, metaphysics, or philosophy would enjoy Newkirk’s talk. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Tuesday, September 29, 2:30pm
ANIME/MANGA Anime fans in grades 7-12 can attend the first meeting of the Southwick Public Library‘s Anime Club on September 29th. Come talk about anime with peers, draw, enjoy snacks, and more. 413-569-1221. 95 Feeding Hills Road. Southwick, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, September 30. 6pm
POLITICAL SCIENCE It is easy to listen to news of international conflict and crisis without being able to analyze how to address these incredibly complicated situations. Springfield Public Forum presents Ambassador Nicholas Burns, who will give the talk “War and Revolution in the Middle East” at Springfield Symphony Hall. Burns served for nearly three decades under both Democratic and Republican Presidents. Now a professor at Harvard Kennedy School, Ambassador Burns will offer an experienced view of how the U.S. should respond to violence and instability. Springfield Symphony Hall, 34 Court St., Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, October 1, 7pm-8:30pm
♦ MUSIC STUDIES/GYPSY SWING The Wistariahurst Museum presents a performance by gypsy swing group The Michael Sheridan Trio. They will play tangoes from South America, as well as the music of Django Reinhardt. Students with audience skills who are interested in music would enjoy the performance. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. ($$)

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