Springfield Armory Reunion Offers Historical Learning Through Collective Memory

Springfield Armory Reunion Offers Historical Learning Through Collective Memory

Opened as an arsenal to support George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War, the Springfield Armory served as a major arms manufacturing center for over two centuries. The Armory closed in 1968, becoming a National Historic Site which now provides families with opportunities to explore the intersection of local and national history.  Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Athletics and Sports History Through Community-Based Resources

Exploring Athletics and Sports History Through Community-Based Resources

Western Massachusetts is known for a great many things, but sports aren’t generally one of them. Nevertheless, the region is filled with opportunities to learn about (and participate in!) sports of all kinds. Western Massachusetts can claim itself as the birthplace of at least two sports played worldwide, is home to a handful of semi-professional teams, and offers opportunities for youth to explore athletics of all kinds. Local families can even find ways to explore sports and sports history through the arts! From spectator opportunities and museum visits to full-on participation, sports-related learning opportunities exist locally all year round.

In terms of sports fame, the area is probably best known as the official birthplace of both volleyball and basketball. Springfield’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a landmark in the city, and honors the city’s claim to fame as home of basketball and its inventor, James Naismith. Created in 1891 in order to offer athletes an exciting and physically challenging indoor sport, basketball is now internationally known and loved. The Basketball Hall of Fame itself includes thousands of square feet of basketball history exhibits, as well as a 300+ member hall of fame commemorating the contributions and achievements of notable players, coaches, and others who’ve been a part of the sport.

A few years after basketball’s invention, volleyball was created in Holyoke – pitched then as a sport offering excitement similar to that of basketball but slightly less physical intensity. The International Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke spotlights the sport’s history and local roots, as well as exceptional players from the nearly century and a quarter that the sport has existed. Visitors can learn about the 125 people from 21 countries whose accomplishments have been significant within volleyball history, and can also view exhibits that offer a glimpse at the evolution and international growth of the sport.

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Freedom on Juneteenth

Community-Based Events & Resources Invite Families to Learn, Celebrate & Reflect on Freedom

These days, when a monumental government decision is made, technology allows the news to travel quickly and we are able to find out almost immediately. However, before the internet and telephones and even motorized vehicles were invented, information took a lot longer to travel. News could take days, weeks, even months to spread, and the further information had to travel, the longer it took for it to get there. In the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, for example, word of Lincoln’s granting of freedom to slaves in Confederate states took nearly six months to reach some parts of the country! While the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1st, 1863, word of emancipation took until June 19th to travel from Washington, DC to Galveston, Texas!

The day upon which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation is celebrated today as Juneteenth. Originally celebrated only in Texas, the day has served as a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States since 1865. Across the country – and even around the world – Juneteenth is celebrated in order to honor the struggles of those who endured slavery, and to remind us of the ways in which our country’s history has affected (and continues to affect) our current society. Find out about celebrations in Western MA!

New Placemaking Event Explores the Arts in Westfield

Explore the Arts in Hampden County at Westfield’s Arts on Elm

Western Massachusetts’ omnipotent local arts scene is growing! Last summer in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+ , Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays, Turners Falls RiverCulture, North Adams DownStreet Art, and Holyoke’s Gateway City Arts, all of which support a community’s cultural identify. The region’s newest art walk event – Arts on Elm – will showcase local artists, musicians, makers, and other creators in the heart of downtown Westfield. Presenting a variety of ways to engage with and learn about the arts, Arts on Elm offers families the opportunity to engage in meaningful community-based learning while supporting placemaking.  Read the rest of this entry »

STEM Opportunities at The Great Holyoke Brick Race

STEM Opportunities at The Great Holyoke Brick Race

Intergenerational collaborations can provide young students with hands-on lessons in the basic science of physics and principles of design at the 5th Great Holyoke Brick Race happening on Saturday, June 4th!

Take on the coolest gravity based physics experiment around at the Great Holyoke Brick Race!  Similar to the Boy Scouts of America’s traditional Pinewood Derby, the event requires that participants create their own miniature car to race down a specific track.  However, unlike Pinewood Derby, the cars are not wooden – the main piece of material is a brick!

Sponsored by Paper City Studios and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the race is open to participants of any age and from anywhere in the world (No need to be a Holyoke native!).  Entries can be created by individuals, or by teams of any size, allowing for lots of intergenerational collaboration and knowledge pooling.

The event can be used as a means of providing hands-on physics learning.  Each car will need to be carefully designed and built with attention to the basic principles of physics.  Depending on the age of participants, car-building can lend itself nicely to in-depth explorations of mathematical ideas and the principles of design, too!

The race will take place on Saturday, June 4th, 2016 on Race Street in Downtown Holyoke.  Check in for racers will begin at 10am. Event runs 11am-3pm  For more specific information regarding entries, as well as design suggestions, visit the race website: www.brickrace.org.

Explore Local History and Culture with a Downtown Springfield Walking Tour!

Explore Local History and Culture with a Downtown Springfield Walking Tour!

Joining the host of local communities offering educational opportunities through walking tours, Springfield’s downtown has been given new life and new educational possibilities through a walking tour. Provided by the Springfield Central Cultural District, the tour spotlights over 200 years of the city’s history, and includes entry points for learning about everything from art and architecture to local government and the first gas-powered automobile.

Just in time for a season’s worth of great walking weather, the Springfield Central Cultural District presents a walking tour of downtown Springfield! By following the new walking tour, families can explore Springfield’s past and present, visiting landmarks whose significance remains relevant today but stretches back as far as the 1700’s. Through observational visits to parks, government buildings, businesses, and museums, families can explore local and national history, government, the evolution of local businesses, and all kinds of art, including sculpture, painted murals, and stained glass.

The walking tour is unlike most others in that while it includes a numbered list of locations, the tour does need to be followed according to the assigned numbers. The detailed map provided by the Springfield Central Cultural District features 25 notable locations which, thanks to their urban location, are all in very close proximity to one another and can be easily reached through many different routes. Families can explore all 25 of the central district’s significant landmarks, or easily navigate through the places and spaces that most interest them.  Read the rest of this entry »

Playing with a Purpose: Gardening with your Children

Gardening and Nutrition Workshops at New Lands Farm

Using the seasons as a catalyst for learning can help connect kids to their environment and the seasonal cycles of their community. Garden-based learning is just one activity that is on many minds every spring. Stop and think what else cycles around each year and how you can use it as a point of entry to community-based education. Then take advantage of your local resources, following your interests and education through community engagement.

Gardening is a multidisciplinary activity embedded with learning every step along the way, from botany to soil science to meteorology.  Gardening with children encourages their natural inquisitiveness and experimentation. Plus, most kids love to get dirty! If your child loves being outside, gardening together will give you both a productive reason to spend more time in nature.

Garden-based learning is a fun and productive activity to try with your children. After you have planted your foods or flowers, your child can nurture them and watch them grow. As children nurture plants and watch them change, they learn about scientific concepts such as habitat and life cycle. On an even more basic level, they learn the logic of cause and effect relationships, for example, if a plant does not get water it will wither. Waiting for a bulb to flower or fruits to grow can teach patience, while plants that require a lot of watering can start discussions about responsibility.

Combining gardening with cooking can have a great impact on your child’s nutrition. Getting children involved in growing and preparing the foods they eat can have a positive impact on dietary choices. Incorporating whatever foods are ready to be eaten into your dinner can teach you to be creative and add variety to your meals. Plus, harvesting the result of your effort and enjoying it in a meal can teach your children about long-term rewards. Gardening and farming make vegetables fun, and instill in children the importance of understanding where food comes from.

If you don’t know anything about gardening, you can learn alongside your child, encouraging each other in a new activity. Families with children ages 5-12 are invited to attend a series of workshops on gardening and nutrition at New Lands Farm. The first workshop will meet on Tuesday, May 3 from 4pm-5pm. Each week will cover a different topic, and participants will get to work in a community garden plot. Call 413-787-0725 x422 for more information. 334 Birnie Avenue, West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Elms College Bioblitz Encourages Citizen Scientists

Biodiversity in Your Neighborhood

Elms College is throwing a Bioblitz on Saturday, April 30, 9am-3pm at Chicopee Memorial State Park. Teachers, students, parents and friends of all ages are invited to team up with scientists to identify as many of the park’s living creatures as possible in a single day. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet people working in scientific fields and ask them questions about science in general or about their careers specifically. Participation can get community members interested in the biodiversity of their local lands, and as a result make them more invested in conservation efforts. Documenting of local species can give scientists clues for further research. You never know what you’re going to find until you look! Please register online at the Elms College website. 570 Burnett Road, Chicopee, MA. (FREE)

In the past twenty years, childhood in the United States has moved indoors. The average American child spends about thirty minutes of their day in unstructured, outdoor play, and more than seven hours in front of a screen (see this report for more information). Most people intuitively understand the connection between time spent in nature and positive well-being. Fresh air and exercise keep our bodies in shape and our minds focused. But did you know that time spent outdoors in childhood also is correlated with better distance vision? If you and your child pair your time spent outdoors with species identification, this may sharpen your visual skills even further as you try to spot birds, plants, insects, and mammals which may be small, or may dart away at the sight of you. This kind of activity also teaches patience and focus.

Read the rest of this entry »

BioBlitz in the Pioneer Valley: Experiential Learning for Novice Naturalists

BioBlitz 2016 Spotlights Citizen Science and Biodiversity in Hampden County

Organized by Elms College, BioBlitz 2016 offers an important opportunity to engage in citizen science in Chicopee! Designed to identify and record as many species of living things as possible, the BioBlitz provides experiential learning opportunities for novice naturalists!

The local landscape is filled with so much life, to locate and identify it all would take the work of many – luckily, that’s exactly what a bioblitz is for! On Saturday, April 30th, Elms College hosts BioBlitz 2016 at Memorial State Park in Chicopee from 9am-3pm. Pairing the knowledge and expertise of scientists, naturalists, and college students with that of children, families, and community members, the event is equal parts citizen science, community service, and community collaboration, and offers unique experiential learning opportunities as a result.

Used in locations far and wide but originating here in Massachusetts, the BioBlitz is a community event used to identify and record any and all species of life found in a specific geographic area. The purpose of such events is to gather information about the populations that locations can support, and to assess the health of an outdoor space. An additional use for BioBlitzes is to educate, allowing citizen scientists to learn about the complex ecosystem in which they live. Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Events for Families in Western MA: 2015

Dino-Centric Studies in Western MA

Upcoming Events Highlight Local Paleontology Connections

Western Massachusetts’ natural history is one of epic proportions – dinosaurs loved our local landscape! In addition to the numerous year-round community-based opportunities to explore paleontology, families can take advantage of upcoming community events in order to further explore dino-centric studies, including Dinosaur Hunter, Paul Sereno!

Here in western Massachusetts, dinosaurs play a huge role in the history of our landscape.

A wealth of community-based educational resources help to support paleontological studies of all kinds, and the local connection to dinosaurs can help budding paleontologists put their dinosaur-centric knowledge into a local context.

To support locally based studies of all things dinosaurs, families can utilize learning opportunities offered by two upcoming events.

Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Latino American History through Community-Based Educational Events & Celebrations

Herencia Latina Brings Exploration of Latino History and Culture to the Pioneer Valley

Held over the course of nine months, Herencia Latina brings a host of educational opportunities and cultural celebrations to the Pioneer Valley.

For over a century, Latino Americans have been a part of communities within the Pioneer Valley. With over 50 million people making up Latino communities across the country, the group is the largest minority group in the country.

In order to celebrate and educate about Latino American history and culture, the Pioneer Valley History Network – in conjunction with local museums, libraries, colleges, and community organizations – brings Herencia Latina to western Massachusetts.

Offering seemingly endless opportunities to explore the history of Latino Americans in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, Herencia Latina brings educational opportunities to western Massachusetts through May of 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Magic Shows: The Psychology Behind Magic Tricks & Illusions

Distraction and Influence: The Psychology of Magic

Have you ever wondered how magic tricks really work? By studying the psychology behind magic, young magicians (and young psychologists) can uncover the “secrets” behind successful magic tricks and learn lots about the human brain at the same time!

Have you ever wondered exactly how it is that magic tricks work? Great magicians manage to perform seemingly impossible feats not through any mysterious form of magic, but through the magic of psychology – the magic of which lies in the ability to subtly influence decisions and attention. Easy to study at home and at community events, magic can be an interesting entry point for studies of psychology and, in addition to gaining a better understanding of the human brain, perhaps families can learn a few tricks for themselves in the process!

Families can learn together about the connection between magic tricks and psychology by exploring research done by researchers at McGill University and the University of British Columbia. Titled ”Psychology of Magic”, the project explores human decision making – specifically, the choosing of cards from a standard deck. Research has shown that, when asked to choose any card from a deck, people choose aces much more frequently than any other card and, in particular, they most prefer the ace of spades.  Read the rest of this entry »

Gateway City Arts Connects Community and Creativity

Gateway City Arts Connects Community and Creativity

Previously in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+, Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays and Turners Falls RiverCulture, all of which support a community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, many communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.

This month, we spotlight Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, a creative co-working space intended for making, teaching, and performing art of all kinds. Gateway City Arts is much more than a maker space, however – the organization’s mission is not only to provide work spaces but to strengthen local community, culture, and the arts by providing space in addition to infrastructure. Community-based learning opportunities abound at Gateway City Arts, thanks to the myriad of diverse events, performances, and learning opportunities.  Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Solstice Illuminates Learning for Families

Time & place literally provides for experiential education opportunity on the longest day of the year!

Science, Culture & Community-Based Educational Opportunities! Learn about & celebrate the longest day of the year!

Soon, celebrations will take place all over the northern hemisphere to mark the arrival of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, bringing with it the shortest night of the year while positioning us here in Western MA as close to the sun as it will be for the rest of the year. The simplest way to mark the summer solstice is simply to enjoy the extra daylight while it lasts, but there are a variety of other community-based ways to celebrate how world cultures and ancient civilizations marked the longest day of the year, getting kids engaged and learning about the longest day of the year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke Draws Upon Community-Based Learning

 Welcome LightHouse Holyoke to Hampden County!

Into the midst of the educational upheaval happening in Holyoke enters LightHouse Holyoke, Personalized Education for Teens, a new school alternative opening in September 2015. Located in the Innovation District of Holyoke, MA, LightHouse will support teens to pursue individualized educational paths while drawing upon community-based learning opportunities and courses.

Each student’s use of the program is personalized, and LightHouse offers four optional Pathways as a foundation: Entrepreneurship, Arts, Tech, and College Prep.  Learning overlaps in the 8-week classes. Additionally, students learn through tutorials – one-on-one, individualized learning experiences that generally (but not always) focus on core academic areas. Students further their learning by engaging with community organizations, allowing them to put theory into practice in real-life contexts.  Read the rest of this entry »

Westfield State Students Dominate Shoe Drive

Westfield State students collect shoes to help in fight against global poverty

Attention anyone with a closet:  Those shoes you no longer want are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.  That’s the message  delivered by Westfield State student and Circle K member Rebecca Talamini ’15, who organized a Soles4Souls shoe drive and collected over 880 pairs of shoes to help the poor, and 35 single shoes to donate to amputees!

Circle K Club, a Kiwanis-affiliated organization of university students, placed donation boxes around campus, at Paper Mill Elementary School (with help from the K-Kids Club), and at South Middle School. South Middle School’s drive, led by Dianna Stutzhuk, Shaunessey Lambert, and Elise Urbanski, collected 200 pairs for Soles4Souls.  Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Springfield’s Victorian Opulence

Exhibit Shows How the Rich & Famous Lived in Springfield

Exploring the lives of the rich and famous of Springfield’s past, the Springfield Museums’ newest exhibit is made up of items demonstrating the luxury with which Victorian-era elite lived their lives. Explore the exhibit to use material culture as a lens for learning about the people behind Springfield’s 19th century economic success!

For some members of 19th century Springfield’s community, the Victorian Era was an especially lavish and luxurious time. Artifacts from the results of the booming industries of 1800’s Springfield are showcased currently at a newly opened exhibit at the Springfield Museums. Titled, “Victorian Opulence: Springfield’s Industrial Elite,” the exhibit includes a wide variety of high-end items once owned and used by some of the most prosperous families of Victorian-era Springfield.

Open through early April of 2016, the exhibit uses examination of material culture to teach about the city’s industrial history and provides a look at day-to-day life in the households of the time period’s most elite. The items included in the exhibit – everything from top hats and jewelry to ornate grandfather clocks – project an obvious air of wealth, and their origins speak volumes to the economic privilege that their owners enjoyed. Read the rest of this entry »

Easter Events in Western MA, 2015

Easter Events in Western MA 2015

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Community events that celebrate Easter take place over the next few week.

We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2015.

Coming to Pioneer Valley: The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

Museum Honoring Dr. Seuss to Open in Pioneer Valley

Conceptual design for City Zoo Interactive Display, Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, Courtesy of Springfield Museums.

Given the worldwide impact of Dr. Seuss’ work, it’s hard to believe that there is no museum in his honor. That is set to change in 2016, when the Springfield Museums will open the first museum dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of Springfield native Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Plans are now underway for the creation of The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, which will feature a highly interactive literacy-based exhibition featuring beloved Seuss characters, as well as exhibits to honor Geisel himself and the community which fostered his early development and creative genius. The museum will be housed in the William Pynchon Memorial building on the Springfield Museums campus in downtown Springfield, MA.  Read the rest of this entry »

Protected: 2015 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA

Maple Harvest Day in the Pioneer Valley

The Sweet Taste of Spring Will Bring Communities Out & Together

Celebrate this year’s maple season at Storrowton Village’s annual Maple Harvest Day! Families can learn about maple harvests of the past in the historic village, and celebrate the coming of spring as well!

Today, the beginning of maple sugaring season involves lots of tubing, tanks, and trucks for transport, as well as efficient and well-engineered industrial size evaporators. Despite the modernity of most large-scale syrup-producing operations, some of the vestiges of old time New England sugaring still remain. While it’s rare these days to find a maple harvest being boiled down in a kettle over a camp fire, many small-scale producers still tap trees with individual buckets and collect the sap by hand on a regular basis – just as western Massachusetts’ residents did centuries ago, forming the foundation upon which the industry was built.

Celebrate this year’s maple harvest at Storrowton Village’s annual Maple Harvest Day! The annual celebration of the local maple tradition will be held on Sunday, March 15th from 11am-3pm in the Big E’s historic New England village. Families can explore the village and step back in time to the days when sugaring season was entirely tube-free, and can learn about the early technologies that allowed industrious New Englanders to have a successful harvest year after year. Read the rest of this entry »

Historical Lecture Series: Immigrant Communities in the Pioneer Valley

Paddy on the Railway: Irish Laborers and the Building of the Great Western Railroad

Were your ancestors immigrants? Are you finding a need to better understand the immigrant experience in Western Massachusetts? Wistariahurst Museum has lined up a series of historical lectures to examine various immigrant communities in the Pioneer valley and to better understand the cultural enrichment these folks brought with them.

As part of Wistariahurst’s Spring Lecture Series, Dennis Picard tells the story of the challenges of building the Western Railroad of Massachusetts linking the Boston & Worcester Railroad to the New York state line on Monday, March 16 at 6 p.m. at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke.

The Western Railroad of Massachusetts was chartered in February of 1833. This transportation construction project was to link the Boston & Worcester Railroad to Springfield, across the Connecticut River and on to the New York state line. This undertaking, which only took five years to reach that goal, required hundreds of skilled and unskilled workers to complete. Though many ethnic groups were represented among the crews the vast majority of the labor was done by those of Irish birth or heritage.

On Monday, March 16 at 6pm, come hear some of the stories of the trails and successes of this unique and very mobile workforce that called our area home for a few months and then was gone.  Read the rest of this entry »

Holyoke Codes Empowers Youth with Free Workshops

Springfield Armory: A National Historic Site

Kids Can Learn About Local History and Become Junior Rangers at this Community-Based Resource

Tying local history with important national and international events, the Springfield Armory provides visitors with a glimpse into the history of military arms manufacturing and the history of the industrial revolution. In addition to opportunities to learn about history from exhibits, families can learn to be Junior Rangers.

Opened as an arsenal to support George’s Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War, the Springfield Armory served as a major arms manufacturing center for over two centuries. Closed since 1968 – but designated as a National Historic Site – the armory provides families with opportunities to explore the intersection of local and national history. Weaving together the stories of major industrial innovations and the workers themselves with national and international military history, the armory’s exhibits and educational programs provide context for some of American history’s major events.

As part of the National Parks system’s Junior Ranger program, the Springfield Armory offers young visitors the opportunity to become Junior Rangers – a rank that requires visitors to first learn about the site’s history and relevance! Aspiring rangers ages 6+ can explore the museum’s exhibits guided by a special Junior Ranger packet that will lead them to make specific discoveries. As part of their self-guided training, Junior Rangers will learn about Civil War rifles manufactured in Springfield, the local inventors and inventions that helped drive the Industrial Revolution, and a special kind of counter-intuitive gun that saves lives!

The Springfield Armory is located at 1 Armory Square in Springfield, and is open from 9am-5pm Wednesday-Sunday during the winter. Participation in special programs is included in admission, and more information is available at 413-734-8551.

[Image credit: Springfield Armory Museum, Springfield MA]

Trust In The Trustees. Winter Staycation is Where It’s At!

The Trustees of Reservations Offer Accessible Winter Family Fun for School Vacation

Photo credit: (c) Sienna WildfieldPlanning to staycation during February school vacation week? If so, The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) have you covered with community-based programs and activities for all ages designed to expand your family’s horizons. Whether it’s learning to snowshoe, identifying animal tracks, or making maple sugar, The Trustees have programs to teach you and your kids something new this winter across western MA! Read the rest of this entry »

Elm’s College Exhibit Beautifully Illustrates African-American History

Rhythms of a Faithful Journey: Verses from Slavery to Presidency

African-American artist, educator, poet and author Robin Joyce Miller will present a slideshow and an exhibit of 14 mixed-media collage quilts at 7pm, Tuesday, February 3, 2015 in the Borgia Gallery at Elms College in Chicopee, MA.

The framed pieces in this exhibit are approximately 35″ x 46″. Twelve of them illustrate African-American history events or periods accompanying poetry from the book. Recitations of poems that accompany these works of art will be included in the presentation.

The slideshow, Restoring My African Soul, is a personal narrative of the journey to restoration and healing through faith, art, poetry and photography. Miller co-authored Rhythms of a Faithful Journey with her husband, James Walter Miller, who also will read some poems at the event.  Read the rest of this entry »

Black History Month at Westfield State

In Living Color: Westfield State celebrates Black History Month, bridges racial gap

“I hope to bring awareness and a different perspective,” Richeme said. “Black History Month is not just about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Ferguson. It’s more than just African American history as well. My hope is for attendees to see beyond the typical themes of the month and learn while enjoying themselves. Each program has its own definition, unique style, and is educational.” [Oil painting from exhibit]

Westfield State University will celebrate Black History Month by hosting a month-long celebration of events ranging from poetry performances, panel discussions, and interactive experiences.

Since 1974, Westfield State has held special events during the month of February dedicated to informing students, faculty, and staff as well as the community about the importance of black history, culture, and traditions. Black History Month is organized by a committee of faculty and staff.

For the first time, Black History Month celebrations are themed this year. The theme is “In Living Color,” a play on the 90’s sketch comedy of the same name, which utilized comedy, fashion, satire, and other media to captivate audiences. Black History Month Committee Chair Ashiah Richeme, staff assistant in Residential Life, said it was important for her to organize a variety of events including some contemporary discussions.

Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Activities Jessika Murphy said the plethora of events allow students to understand the time table of racial injustice: “We want to bridge the gap, to show where we as a country started, notice the positive changes we’ve made, and to look forward to ways will still need to grow,” Murphy said.

While the university has held events around Black History Month for 40 years, it recently began expanding cultural awareness programs, including its first recognition of Latino Heritage Month last fall.

“Part of our job as educators is to provide students with the opportunity to learn beyond their comfort zone, which includes learning about different cultures,” Murphy said. Read the rest of this entry »

Animal Secrets Revealed at Springfield Science Museum

New Exhibit Satisfies the Animal Scientist in Young Children

What does an eagle feed its young? How do mother bats find their babies in a cave? Children ages 3 through 8 and their parents will answer these questions and many others while exploring Animal Secrets, the newest traveling exhibit to arrive at the Springfield Science Museum. The exhibit, designed by Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, begins on January 31 with a special Opening Celebration and will run through May 3, 2015.

Young children are natural scientists, curious about the world around them, and Animal Secrets was designed to encourage this curiosity and foster a sense of wonder about nature. Through dramatic play and multi-sensory hands-on activities, children will discover nature from an animal’s point of view as they explore immersive natural environments including a stream, woodland, meadow, cave, and naturalists’ tent. One of the most appealing aspects of Animal Secrets is that it is designed for both children and adults, allowing families to share in the enjoyment of learning together. Text panels and interpretive materials are provided in both English and Spanish. Read the rest of this entry »

From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket

The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket

This exhibit tells the story of community development and business innovation and how this local grocery store impacted the food industry. Through photos and memorabilia, the story of its evolution unfolds and connects visitors to a piece of western MA history.

When you think about shopping local, do you think of Friendly’s Ice Cream? Yankee Candle? The Big Y?  All three of these successful businesses had their beginnings here in Western MA!

A new exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History traces the journey of Big Y Supermarkets from a small neighborhood grocery store to one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England. The exhibit, entitled The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket, is now on permanent view at the Wood Museum. In close proximity are displays honoring other local success stories like Friendly’s Ice Cream and Smith & Wesson. Read the rest of this entry »

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