18 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Reality to Electricity. Rivers to Flutes.


Reality to Electricity. Eclipse to Pastels. Rivers to Flutes. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:  The annual Earth Day Festival at UMass Amherst next  Friday, April 21, 8am-4pm, will feature over 30 student, faculty, staff, and community groups, showcasing the work they do to increase sustainability and fight climate change on a community level and beyond. The festival will also include a farmer’s market, performance art, music, tie dye and more! The Earth Day celebration takes place in conjunction with UMass Amherst’s 1st Annual Green Commute Day, encouraging people to bike, walk, carpool or take public transit for the day. Come get inspired about the small changes you can make in your life to have a positive impact. Student Union North Lawn. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

PhilosophyAstronomyPhysicsEcologyArt StudiesService-Based LearningOrnithologyRiversMusic StudiesHistorySustainability

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“[In this episode,] Hank gains insight from that most philosophical of figures…Leonardo DiCaprio. In this episode, we’re talking about the process of philosophical discovery and questioning the relationship between appearance and reality by taking a look at Plato’s famous Myth of the Cave. All with a little help from our good pal Leo.” – CrashCourse

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Saturday, April 15, 9am-1pm
What exactly is electricity? It powers our lights and electronic devices, but how? Electricity is a physical phenomenon that occurs when there is an electric charge. It can be harnessed through engineering for technological uses, and it also occurs naturally. Children and their parents are invited to learn more about electricity and spend time outdoors at the Hitchcock Center Second Saturday Science program. This program will continue on the second Saturday of the month through June, with various themes. 413-256-6006. 845 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 19, 10am-2pm
Pinwheels, propellers, wind turbines, windmills- they all have a similar shape. Why? Symmetry is the scientific secret behind the movement of wind-powered tools and toys. Kids with an interest in physics and hands-on activities should come to the pinwheel make and take at New England Air Museum to learn more! This program is part of Spring Fling, two weeks of educational programming at the New England Air Museum. Check their website for full details. 860-623-330. 36 Perimeter Road. Windsor Locks, CT. (Adult $; Ages 4-11 <$; Members and ages 3 and under FREE)

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Saturday, April 15, 10am-11:30am
Are your kids studying life cycles, ecology or habitats? Have you thought about taking them to check out a vernal pool in your area? Vernal pools are a temporary type of wetland habitat, home to a number of extraordinary animals. Learning about vernal pools is also a way for you and your family to get involved with helping threatened or endangered species. Vernal pools are critical habitats for many state-listed amphibian species such as spotted salamanders and wood frogs. Come to the Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to learn more about why these small bodies of water are so important and what you can do to help protect them. This program is suitable for children ages 4-16, and their caregivers. 413- 584-3009. Main Street. Hampden, MA. (<$)

Wednesday, April 19, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Salamanders are amphibians, relying on both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Some species of salamander share our local habitat. In early spring, you can find local woodland salamanders under logs, stones, and other objects, venturing out only in the cool moist of evenings. Experts Gayle Tardif-Raser and Dale Abrahams will be leading nature explorers around Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to look for salamanders! Get acquainted with these fascinating creatures. This event is suitable for ages five and up. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. (<$)

Friday, April 21, 3pm
Children are natural scientists and explorers. They can learn a great deal about the world around them simply by observing backyard habitats, collecting rocks or identifying bugs. If your child is a naturally inquisitive explorer, he or she might be fascinated by vernal pools! These are temporary habitats which can be found this time of year. Dale Abrams of the Mass Audubon will present “Vernal Pools are cool,” an interactive slideshow, at the Adams Free Library. After attending this program you may want to keep the learning going by taking a nature walk and keeping an eye out for vernal pools. 413-743-8345. 92 Park Street. Adams, MA. (FREE)

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Solar and lunar eclipse – which is which? And how can you finally remember the difference?

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Art Studies

Saturday, April 15, 11am-1pm
Do you like working with pastels? Unlike paint, pastel is mixed and blended on the canvas. There are more than a dozen different artistic techniques for using pastels. You can improve your pastel artwork, or try it out for the first time, by attending a hands-on workshop run by the classically trained artist Greg Maichack. Participants will experiment with the artist’s professional grade pastels, pastel pencils, and pastel paper, producing their own pastel painting of Georgia O’Keeffe’s elegant Jimson flower that sold for $45.4 million. Spots may fill quickly. Call 413-263-6828 ext. 221 to register for this workshop at the Springfield Central Library. 220 State Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Monday, April 17, 10:30am-11:30am
Kids are often very passionate about their values and can look at a global or political problem with a fresh, creative perspective. Multi Arts is offering families the opportunity to engage their creative problem-solving skills and their artistic abilities in celebration of Earth Day. Children are asked to consider the question: “Why does the environment matter and what can we do to protect it?” Attendees will use this question to guide them as they create postcards to be sent to political officials. Help your kids connect to both the local community and the natural world. Space is limited, please reserve your space by emailing info@multi-arts.org. Immanuel Lutheran Church. 867 North Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 18, 11am
Have you and your child ever crafted with fusible beads? They are small, tube shaped beads that you place into formations. This type of bead allows for a great deal of creative, out-of-the-box thinking as kids get to make choices about color and shape. They’re also a great way for children to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Children ages five and up, and their caregivers, are invited to drop in and use fusible beads at the Granby Library. Participants can follow the designs or create their own! 413-467-3320. 297 East State Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 19, 1pm-4pm
Trips to museums can bring out your creative side by showing you a wide range of contemporary or historic art styles. The Clark Art Institute is offering visitors a chance to build their drawing skills, gaining inspiration from the current exhibition and engaging in activities. Visitors can pick up a complimentary sketch pad for drawing in the galleries, self-portrait studio, or figure drawing workshop. The special exhibition Looking North and South features some of the Renaissance’s most famous artists. Improve your drawing abilities by looking, sketching, and learning! 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (Adults $; Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID FREE)

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Service-Based Learning

Tuesday, April 18, 1pm-3pm
April is National Volunteer Month! Engaging children in community service can increase their participation as future volunteers, helping to create more resilient and sustainable communities. Volunteering together with your children, you can model this behavior for them and have a fun, educational bonding experience as a family. At Hilltown Families Family Volunteer Day with Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, there will be a number of educational and hands-on activities for children and their caregivers such as sorting and packaging food donations, decorating bags for the Brown Bag program, learning about nutrition, touring the warehouse, and more. Kids of all ages are welcome. Registration is required and fills up fast! Register on the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts website. 413-247-9738 ext. 135. 97 North Hatfield Road. Hatfield, MA (VOLUNTEER)

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Saturday, April 15, 12pm-2pm
In addition to engaging kids’ visual and memory skills, egg hunts can be an opportunity to talk about real eggs and birds! The Migratory Bird’s Egg Hunt at Fort River Division offers a unique spin on this traditional activity, offering families the chance to celebrate spring while learning about ornithology. Participants will use a GPS to discover locations of eggs, and learn about birds who live here in the spring and summer. An interactive worksheet will help participants during the hunt The trail is handicap accessible and all ages are welcome! 413-548-8002. Silvio O. Conte Refuge, 69 Moody Bridge Road. Hadley, MA. (FREE)

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Friday, April 21, 1pm-4pm
In honor of Earth Day and as part of “Be River Smart Month,” visitors to the Berkshire Athenaeum can learn about local ecology and see live critters! Children and parents can see up-close many of the creatures who make their homes in our local waters. There will be other water-themed activities and stories. Kids can enter the water Olympics and make river-themed crafts. This program is best suited for ages six to twelve, and their caregivers. 413-499-9480. 1 Wendell Avenue. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, April 15, 2pm-3pm
Berkshire County was at one time an industrial base for products such as textiles, paper, glass, and iron. Industrial machines were powered in part by local, running waters. Historian John Dickson will be discussing the impact of 19th century mills and telling this local story through historic photographs. His presentation, “Why Here? The Rise of Berkshire County’s Industrial Might,” is part of a series of River Smart programming to help educate our community about the impact of our rivers on past and present life. Berkshire Athenaeum. 413-499-9480. 1 Wendell Avenue. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

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Music Studies

Saturday, April 15, 7pm
Shostakovich’s Symphony #7 in C major is a part of classical music history. It was composed at the height of the Nazi siege of Leningrad during World War II. The composer wrote it in Leningrad and later in Moscow after he had been transferred for his safety. The final score was sent back to Leningrad and was performed by surviving members of Leningrad’s municipal orchestra. The composition draws upon the terrifying circumstances of the time but also serves as a symbol of resistance and a requiem for the victims. You can hear it performed by the Amherst Symphony Orchestra in Buckley Recital Hall. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Sunday, April 16, 3pm-4pm
Flutes are among the world’s oldest extant musical instrument. These reedless woodwinds are used in classical music, jazz, and occasionally popular music as well. You can celebrate this beautiful instrument by attending MHC’s Flute Choir concert: Silver Enchantment, a diverse program including a movement of a Rachmaninoff symphony, the adagio from the Albinoni Organ Suite, and pieces written for flute choir.The performance will be followed by a reception. Alison Hale directs. Mount Holyoke College. McCulloch Auditorium, Pratt Hall. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

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Wednesday, April 19, 10am-4pm
Studying local history can make broad historical topics easier to envision and relate to. Holyoke has a rich industrial history and once served as the world’s largest paper manufacturer. This history can literally be seen through the design of the city, which was a planned industrial community and features rectangular street grids which are otherwise rare in New England. Children of all ages are invited to engage with local history by visiting Wistariahurst and perusing the Holyoke History Exhibit. Participants can also enjoy painting, clay art, mask making, board games, and card games throughout the day. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA.

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Friday, April 21, 8am-4pm
The annual Earth Day Festival at UMass Amherst will feature over 30 student, faculty, staff, and community groups, showcasing the work they do to increase sustainability and fight climate change on a community level and beyond. The festival will also include a farmer’s market, performance art, music, tie dye and more! The Earth Day celebration takes place in conjunction with UMass Amherst’s 1st Annual Green Commute Day, encouraging people to bike, walk, carpool or take public transit for the day. Come get inspired about the small changes you can make in your life to have a positive impact. Student Union North Lawn. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 21, 10:30am
Planting seeds can teach kids about the values of patience and planning as they see their plants grow slowly over time. Gardening is a low-risk way for kids to learn the responsibility of caring for a living thing. For Earth Day at the Gaylord Memorial Library. children will learn about the ways in which their actions impact the environment, through stories and songs. If weather permits, participants will also plant seed balls behind the library. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

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Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Belchertown, Buckland, Chicopee, Colrain, Cummington, Gill, Hadley, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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