Learning Ahead: March 21st-25th, 2016


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

This week we are featuring 20 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.


See your banner here! Sponsor Learning Ahead!

Berkshire County

AGRICULTURE/COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
Monday, March 21, 5:30pm -7:30pm
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food is a great event that invites visitors to meet with local farmers and learn about their community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. Whether you are thinking about joining a farm share, have been a CSA member for many years, or simply want to meet the important folks who help grow much of our local food, there’s something for everyone here! Participating in a farm share has many benefits. You support local farmers while also boosting your own health with fresh foods. Obtaining food directly from a farm can also help expand your eating and cooking palate, as you incorporate new ingredients into your meals. Community Supported Agriculture can take many forms. Some CSAs welcome you to participate by picking crops on the farm, while others provide you with already picked fruits and/or vegetables. In Western Massachusetts there are a lot of CSAs from which to choose. Visitors will also enjoy samplings from local farms and food producers. Hosted by the North Adams Farmers’ Market. 85 Main Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Interested in farming? Investigate the different farming systems that exist all over the world! Here is one approach to farming in Swaziland, invented by two 14-year-old boys:

SONGWRITING
Tuesday, March 22, 6:30-9pm
Where do songwriters begin when they sit down to write? Do they decide on a chord structure and then write words? Do they improvise? In all likelihood, each musician is a little different. In this workshop at the Spectrum Playhouse, songwriter Sandy McKnight will educate participants about song structure, recording, publishing, and licensing. Get tips on how to begin or how to improve the songs you’ve already written. You will need to register by emailing KDemler@cipberkshire.org. 413-394-5023. 20 Franklin St. Lee, MA($)

NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
Wednesday, March 23, 10am-11:30am
Start your morning off with fresh air and exercise at this guided hike around Stevens Glen. Bring a camera to capture photographs of the waterfall in early Spring. If you’ve never visited, this will be a great chance to become familiar with a resource for hiking, dog walking, nature photography, foraging, and even swimming in some areas. Email mleavitt@bnrc.net with any questions. West Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

What a fabulous opportunity to experiment with different techniques for photographing water in motion! Want to practice or pick up a few tips before you head out? Learn more in this water photography tutorial.

STAMP MAKING
Thursday, March 24, 3pm-5pm
Does your child like to make art for friends and family? Lots of kids like to make cards. As part of “Youth Art Month” at The Clark your child can make a personalized stamp to use to give her artwork a personalized mark. Recommended for 4th–8th graders; all children must be accompanied by an adult. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, Ma (Cost of admission: Adults $. Under 18 FREE)

ZOOLOGY/COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
Thursday, March 24, 5:30pm
What does a wildlife rehabilitator do each day? One way to learn about this profession is to volunteer for a licensed rehabilitator. As part of the Green Living Seminar Series at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science will be giving a presentation on wildlife rehabilitation, with a focus on their annual work to rehabilitate more than 400 injured and orphaned birds from throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. Find out what rehabilitation entails and why it is so important for various species and habitats. Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation (Room 121). 375 Church St. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Wildlife rehabilitators work with just about every animal you can imagine! Watch as a bat rehabilitator cares for a group of baby bats who were orphaned after a heatwave. (It is important to note that no one should handle wildlife if they are not a trained professional. The person you see in the video here has received special training and vaccines to keep herself and the animals safe. If you ever encounter an animal in need of help, call a wildlife rehabilitator, or your state or regional fish and wildlife office for assistance.)

ASTRONOMY/HISTORY
Friday, March 25, 4pm, 7pm
Space exploration, including exploration of the moon, are among some of the greatest human accomplishments. But what does landing on the moon feel like? What kind of effect does the job of astronaut have on a person, and on his family? The 2014 documentary, The Last Man on the Moon (not rated) tells the story of Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan from a deeply personal perspective. Going to outer space, especially in the early years of space exploration, is akin to going to war. You and your family cannot be certain you will return. Come to The Little Cinema inside The Berkshire Museum to witness this personal and historical account. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. (>$)

Franklin County

FILM STUDIES/CLASSICS
Tuesday, March 22, 2:30pm-8pm
Would you like to join an all ages Film Club of movie fans and filmmakers? Meet at the Program Building at Red Gate Farm for this month’s screening of the 1958 film, Vertigo (PG). No commitment or membership fee is required to join. Please note that this group shows PG and PG-13 movies. If you are in third-grade or younger, you must be accompanied by a parent. All participants under 17 must have parental consent to attend programs. Pizza will be provided and discussion will follow the film. Find out why Vertigo is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, and whether you agree with this praise. Please RSVP by calling 413-625-9503. 4 Norman Road. Ashfield, MA. (DONATION)

GENDER STUDIES/MUSIC HISTORY
Wednesday, March 23, 6:30pm
Skylarz, a female musical duo, will be showcasing their vocal skills at the Whately Public Library. Utilizing flute and piano, Skylarz play jazz and classic American songs. Today, in addition to entertaining visitors of all ages, they will educate with a presentation on the history of women singers, songwriters and performers. Who are some of your favorites? What kind of impact do you think those women had on the course of music? 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Rd. Whately, MA. (FREE)

FIBER ARTS
Wednesday, March 23, 7pm-8:30pm
Do you knit, weave, quilt, or engage in some other fiber art? Meet other fiber artists in the community at Field Memorial Library for a presentation on color theory. How do you decide what colors to use when you knit or weave? Come with questions, theories, and a creative attitude. Materials will be provided. Participants should bring a glue stick and scissors for paper. For more information call 413-522-4944 or email mcfarlandshandwork@comcast.net. 1 Elm Street. Conway, MA. (FREE)

Why do we see different colors, anyway?

Hampshire County

SKILLSHARING/WOOLCRAFT
Monday, March 21, 7pm-9pm
After the 2008 recession, craft stores like Michael’s felt a boom in sales while many other retailers watched their numbers drop. The increased interest in DIY activities seems to have stuck around. You can join the ranks of crafters and local agriculturists by participating in a free class on crafting with wool. Bring your own fiber tools and learn about the skills of knitting, felting, spinning and weaving. Whether you’re building on a pre-existing ability, or want to learn a brand new skill, you can bring the knowledge you gain from this class with you to the upcoming Sheep and Woolcraft fair taking place in the Spring. This class is sponsored by the Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center.Classes will take place at the Middlefield Senior Center 169 Skyline Trail, Middlefield, MA. (FREE)

CLIMATE CHANGE/ACTIVISM
Tuesday, March 22, 12:30-2pm
With so many important political issues, how do you decide which movement to get involved with? How do you impact change? One way to make a difference is to follow the issue about which you feel most passionate, and that distinction can often be made on a personal level. At “Crafting Personal Stories,” participants will discuss ways in which climate change has impacted us personally as individuals. The goal is to use narratives to inspire action. The group will meet on Floor 26 of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. University of Massachusetts Amherst. 154 Hicks Way. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

ASTRONOMY/CULTURAL STUDIES
Tuesday, March 22, 7pm
Screen the 2013 documentary Sepideh at Amherst Cinema and you can also participate in a post-film discussion, followed by stargazing! This film is the story of an Iranian teenage girl, named Sepideh Hooshyar, who explores her love of astronomy and chases her dream of becoming an astronaut. This is not only an inspiring film about where our intellectual interests can take us, it is a modern perspective on Iranian society, gender expectations, and our shared passion for understanding the universe. Rather than thinking about Iran from a political perspective, this film gives viewers a chance to conceptualize about the country and the culture on a personal level. Dr. Salman Hameed, Hampshire College professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies, will lead the post show discussion and stargazing with telescopes (weather permitting). 413-253-2547. 28 Amity St. Amherst, MA. ($)

LOCAL HISTORY
Tuesday, March 22, 7:15pm
The Pelham Historical Society has been providing historical information on the town of Pelham, including Pelham family genealogies, for fifty years now. The Society also showcases local artists in the Ruth Sherburne Sturrus Art Gallery . Come to the Pelham Library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this educational community resource, with cake and trivia! You will also learn about the reopening and upgrading of the Pelham Museum, with chances to become involved in this process yourself. For more information contact Blair Bigelow, 413-259-1117. Ramsdell Room of the Pelham Library, 2 S. Valley Road. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

CLASSICAL MUSIC
Wednesday, March 23, 12:30pm-1pm
Frédéric Chopin achieved far-reaching recognition as a composer and pianist, in spite of the fact that he suffered from poor health most of his life. The majority of his compositions are for solo piano, but today at Smith College, Volcy Pelletier and Judith Gordon will perform “Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65” for cello and piano, Chopin’s last published work. This event is the perfect reflective, relaxing music for the lunch hour. Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

NEUROSCIENCE/HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Thursday, March 24, 7pm
The entire community is invited to a meeting of the Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition, with a presentation by local physician Dr. Ruth Potee. She earned her medical degree from Yale University and has served as a co-chair for the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and North Quabbin. In her presentation, “The Teenage Brain: Under Construction,” she will discuss the impact of drugs on the adolescent brain. There are striking neurological changes which emerge in the period of adolescence. These changes have a profound effect on emotions and decision making. Although individual development varies, the brain is typically not fully finished developing until around age twenty-five. During this period when connections between brain regions are forming, it is crucial to encourage healthy behaviors to aid, rather than hinder, growth. Parents, teens, business leaders, community members, faith leaders, and anyone invested in teenage development is encouraged to attend. Northampton High School, 70 Williston Ave, 380 Elm Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

BUDDHISM
Friday, March 25, 5pm
According to the most recent Pew Research Center report, about 0.7% of the United States population identifies as practicing Buddhist. That is about the same number of United States Hindus and slightly lower than the U.S. Muslims population. Although the number of people who claim Buddhism as their primary religious practice is small, Buddhist concepts of compassion and mindfulness have made their way increasingly into American psychological literature in the last several decades. In this Smith College Lecture, Oberlin professor James C. Dobbins will discuss the life and work of D. T. Suzuki (1870-1966), who is credited with popularizing Buddhism in the West in the mid-20th century. Seelye Hall 201. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

CODING/SKILLSHARE
Wednesday, March 23, 5:30-7:30pm
Come to a Holyoke Codes lab night and work on any project you want while meeting people and getting inspired by their projects. You’re welcome to play with a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 or WeDo robotics kit, work in Scratch, get help learning HTML, Javascript, or another programming language, learn how to create your own Minecraft mods, or write mobile apps for Android with App Inventor. The possibilities are nearly endless. Many of the Holyoke coders have been working with Raspberry Pi and are interested in getting started with Gemma wearable computing projects. All ages welcome. Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center 100 Bigelow St. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

New to the world of wearable computing? Learn more about the product called Gemma:

BEGINNER UKULELE
Wednesday, March 23, 6:30-8pm
Come learn to play this convenient, portable string instrument, in a supportive environment with other beginners. More experienced ukulele players are also welcome, however, to come join in on the fun at the Storrs Library. Please bring a ukulele if you own one. Loaner ukuleles will be available on a first-come first-served basis. With only four strings, the ukulele is easier to learn than the guitar and can be a great introduction to learning chord progressions. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow St. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

CHORAL MUSIC
Wednesday, March 23, 7pm
Do your children love music? Take them to see the Children’s Chorus of Springfield showcase their hard work. Participation in a choir or other musical group teaches social skills such as teamwork, discipline and self-control. Reading music engages the parts of the brain responsible for determining patterns. Reading and playing music is a visual, kinesthetic, and auditory act, in addition to being tons of fun! There are many opportunities for children and adults to sing in the valley. Witnessing a talented group of children perform could inspire such an interest in audience members. Please register online. The concert will take place at Mills Theater, Carr Hall, Bay Path University. 588 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

ARCHITECTURE
Thursday, March 24, 6:30pm
Tiny houses are growing in popularity across the country. Tiny houses have many advantages including their relative low price compared to large homes, the fact that individuals can be involved in the process of building their own homes, and tiny house communities have the potential to foster strong ties with neighbors and reshape our neighborhoods. But where do you even begin? How do you provide heat and running water for your tiny home? And where can you put it once it’s built? Isa Bauer, Project Manager and lead designer from Tiny House Northeast, will answer those and other questions at the Agawam Public Library. Please call 413-789-1550 x4 or register online. 750 Cooper St, Agawam, MA. (FREE)

Listen as one couple explains their reasoning behind choosing to live in a tiny house:

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