Splash! A Day of Learning for Teens at Amherst College

Amherst College Offers Workshop Program for Middle/High School Students

Splash! takes place on Saturday, April 20, 2019, a day of classes where teens can learn a variety of topics that might not be part of a traditional school curriculum but are beneficial to learn about.

Amherst College is offering a unique workshop program for middle and high school students!  Splash! takes place on Saturday, April 20, 2019, and is a day of classes where kids can learn about all sorts of topics (everything from knitting to neuroscience, nutrition to Arabic) that are not part of a traditional school curriculum but are beneficial to learn.

All of the classes being offered are being taught by Amherst College students whose personal and/or academic interests are in the subject area that they will be teaching about.  Teens attending Splash! can sign up for workshops in political propaganda, physics, psychology, chemistry, veterinarian science, social and environmental justice, indigenous resistance, and much more!  Read the rest of this entry »

One-Day Learning at Amherst College for Middle & High Schoolers

Splash! at Amherst College
Saturday, November 17th, 2013

Splash!… a one-day program in which college students lead fun classes for middle & high school students at Amherst College!

Jump into a deep pool of knowledge at Amherst College’s Splash, an event offering students in grades 6-12 the opportunity to take part in workshops on fun and fascinating topics not generally taught in school. Lead by Amherst College students, the workshops are designed to introduce participants to new topics and teach a few basic skills that can provide the foundation for future learning about each topic – which could be anything from origami to the math behind the electoral college.

Held on Saturday, November 17th, 2013, from 9am-4pm, Splash participation includes five different workshops, as well as lunch. Students are able to choose which workshops they will participate in, and can choose from over thirty different offering in the categories of engineering, math and computer science, humanities, art, and science. Many of the workshops cover topics that are popular amongst teens and tweens, like cartoon drawing, gaming, and food-related science; others cover topics that teens are likely aware of but are not well informed about, such as ethics, social entrepreneurship, and public speaking…

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Mead Art Museum: Supporting Informal Learning For Families

Dig into Art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College This Summer

Informal learning environments like libraries and museums are important in preparing children for success in school and life.  Why? Young brains are hardwired to learn informally!

Art museums can seem daunting for families with children—untouchable artworks, quiet galleries, and security guards at every turn.  But don’t rule them out, because art museums are the perfect destination for children this summer.

The Mead Art Museum now provides free activity totes for families to borrow while at the museum.  A new theme will roll out every six months. The Museum’s debut theme, available now, is Dig into Art. Kids can dress up like Indiana Jones, with explorer vest and pith helmet, as they hunt for artifacts in the museum.  Families can curl up on one of the Mead’s cozy armchairs and read a picture book of Greek mythology. Budding archaeologists will each receive a take-home gallery notebook to record their discoveries, inspired by real-life scientific field journals.

Dig into Art complements the Massachusetts Libraries summer reading program Dig into Reading. Libraries and museums are natural partners for helping kids and families prevent “summer slide”—the loss of school skills over the break…

The Institute for Library and Museum Services—a federal organization—recently published a report on how important libraries and museums are in preparing children for success in school and life.  Why?  Young brains are hardwired to learn informally.  The more opportunities young children have to learn in an informal, non-school setting, the more successful they will be in school…

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Mead Art Museum at Amherst College Supplements Asian Studies with Current Exhibit

Visit the Mead Art Museum and Rethink Your Assumptions About Japan.

Older children, teens, and adults have the opportunity to cross the globe, right here in Western Massachusetts. Reinventing Tokyo: Japan’s Largest City in the Artistic Imagination, on view through December 30 at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, is the first exhibition in the US to approach Tokyo through the lens of the city’s history of continual change and reinvention.  With over 100 prints, photographs, paintings, and textiles, Reinventing Tokyo gives a visual timeline of the Japanese capital’s modernization from Edo to the cutting edge modern Tokyo of today.

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Timed to open 100 years after Japan’s gift of cherry blossoms to Washington DC, this exhibition follows major events in recent Japanese history, including the 19th-century “opening” of Japan to Western trade, natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes, and the rapid urbanization after the destruction of World War Two.

One major theme is the contrast between eastern and western cultural influences, evident in the woodblock prints depicting street scenes of people walking side by side, some in kimonos, some in 19th-century Western suits and bonnets.  A traditionally dressed woman walks across a state of the art steel suspension bridge; a baseball player adorns a 1930s kimono; a high fashion gown by famed designer Miyake Issey hints at traditional Japanese clothing yet is unquestioningly modern and futuristic.

As a former classroom geography teacher I recommend Reinventing Tokyo as a resource for students of Japanese culture and globalization.  However, it is the theme of urbanization that is most visually striking.  Tokyo, once the small fishing village of Edo, is now the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan.  The largest urban center in the world with 35 million people, Tokyo illustrates what happens when natural disaster, war, and cultural change alter an urban landscape and the people living within it.

Many large cities have a history as a crossroads, a place where cultures meet for commerce and accidentally share more than goods and services; ideas and values end up mingling as well.  Tokyo has been a crossroads of tradition and modernity for over 150 years.  After centuries of self isolation, Japan allowed itself to “open” to trade with Western nations, especially the United States, in the mid-19th century.   A mixing of culture and technology followed and continues to this day.  From skyscrapers and McDonalds to anime and sushi, the exchange of ideas between Japan and the US crisscrosses the globe.

When Tokyo rebuilt itself after earthquakes, fires, and war, it was the urban architecture popular in the United States and Europe that helped to house quickly the large population.  Yet the new neighborhoods and shopping districts maintained a distinctly Japanese feel and style.  Modern-day Tokyo has the vibrancy of New York yet a sense of place unique to a culture that has thrived in one location for centuries.  It is this ongoing relationship between the past and the future, the result of an amazing resiliency to disaster, that makes Tokyo such a dynamic and important city.

A note to families and teachers: this exhibition includes visual reference to natural disasters, war, and adult sexuality.  Admission to the Mead is always free and parents and teachers are welcome to preview the exhibition.

Reinventing Tokyo: Japan’s Largest City in the Artistic Imagination is open through December 30, 2012. The Mead is located on the Amherst College campus, at the intersection of Routes 9 and 116. Admission to the Mead is always free.  www.amherst.edu/mead

– Submitted by Wendy Somes

Five College Center for East Asian Studies

If you’re interested in additional resources, the Five College Center for East Asian Studies (FCCEAS) at Smith College in Northampton has a free newsletter, “East Asia for Teachers,” which compiles cultural activities and educational opportunities in New England and New York of interest to educators who teach about East Asia or families wanting to further supplement their children’s education in East Asia studies. Included in the newsletter are a calendar of museum exhibits and cultural events,  and resources on East Asia, distributed three times a year.  In their most recent newsletter they shared the follow online supplemental curriculums which might be of interest to teachers and homeschoolers:

  • SPICE (Stanford Program on International and Cross Cultural Education) has several new units: An Interpretive History of Japan; China in Transition: Economic Development, Migra- tion, and Education; and Chinese American Voices: Teaching with Primary Sources. Visit spice.stanford.edu.
  • Education about Asia (EAA) has available articles to view and download from back issues published between 1996 and 2008. Registration is free. Visit www.asian-studies.org/eaa.

Visit FCCEAS for more links and resources to further your education on East Asian studies.  Find it all at www.smith.edu/fcceas.

A few fun online resources for younger children to explore Japanese language and culture include:


Wendy Somes is Coordinator of Community Programs at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.  She lives in Goshen with her husband, young son, and two spoiled felines.

Splash! A Day of Learning for Teens at Amherst College

Women in Engineering Career Day at UMass

UMass Hosts Women in Engineering Career Day for Local High School Students
Monday, October 29th, 2012

Open to young women in grades 9-12, Women in Engineering Career Day will take place at  UMass Amherst on Monday, October 29th from 8:30am-1:30pm. Activities include: hands-on engineering and computing activities; demonstrations of state-of-the-art technology, information about career opportunities; lunch chats with college students, professors, and engineers; and optional tours of engineering and computer science labs.

Historically, the field of engineering has been male dominated.  Today, however, women are breaking into engineering, computing, and other science-related professions more and more.  To promote women’s pursuits of science, technology, and engineering, UMass’ Society of Women Engineers and Women in Engineering Program host Women in Engineering Career Day!

Open to young women in grades 9-12, the event will take place on Monday, October 29th from 8:30am-1:30pm.  Included in the event will be a keynote speaker (Valerie Gordeski, a systems engineer with Raytheon, a major defense contractor), tours of the school’s engineering and science labs, hands-on computing and engineering activities, technology demonstrations, information about career opportunities and college pursuits, and a chance to talk with female students and professors of engineering.

No matter their background knowledge, Women in Engineering Day offers students a unique opportunity to learn about possibilities for their futures in an empowering, all-women environment.  Older students interested in pursuing STEM subjects at a women’s college may find the event particularly useful – they will experience firsthand what it is like to work with an all-female group to solve hands-on computing problems and piece together systems using basic engineering skills.  Space is limited and registration is required ($) – non-homeschooled students should register through their school guidance counselor.  More information at engineering.umass.edu/diversity/wepcareerday. Space fills up quickly!

Dance Into Art at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst

Mead Art Museum at Amherst College Presents
Dance Into Art
Pioneer Valley Community Celebration!

On Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host a family-friendly event exploring the art of dance and costume in Amherst’s art collection. The fun-filled afternoon of activities for children and adults of all ages is free and open to the public.

Dance into art at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst!  The museum, which houses Amherst College’s art collection, is currently hosting a special exhibition featuring work from artists Robert Henri and Nick Cave, whose work explores the human form through examination of dance and movement as a form of cultural expression.

The museum will host a family-friendly event on April 21st, from 11am-3pm, where families can see music and dance demonstrations, tour the museum and learn about current exhibits, and take part in hands-on art activities.

Kids can make their own hand puppets and masks inspired by the works shown from Henri and Cave, and can use the performances taking place throughout the day as inspiration as well.

The event offers an opportunity for families to view great art, as well as a chance for kids to learn about ways of using sources of inspiration.  For more information, call the museum at 413-542-2000, or visit www.amherst.edu.

Splash! A Day of Learning for Teens at Amherst College

Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College

Beneski Museum of Natural History
Home of the World’s Largest Collection of
Dinosaur Tracks

Beneski Museum of Natural History

Click on the image to see 360° views of the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College. - The ground floor displays the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks (primarily from the Connecticut River Valley), skulls of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops and a diorama with a model showing what some of our local dinosaur species might have looked like. There is also a cast of a dinosaur track “book” that visitors can handle.

Did you know that the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks is housed at Amherst College in the Beneski Museum of Natural History?  The Museum offers opportunities for families and students to learn about the natural history of the Pioneer Valley and many other parts of the world.  There are over 1,700 specimens (including skeletons of a mammoth, cave bear, and saber-tooth cat, and skulls of a tyrannosaurus rex and a triceratops!), some from as far away as Patagonia, housed at the Museum, along with several collections, including anthropology, ichnology, meteorites, mineralogy, osteology, paleobotany and taxidermy.

There are three levels to the museum, with an entire floor dedicated to local geological phenomena, such as glaciation and mountain building- point out the Holyoke Range to your kids on you way to visit, then learn how it was created at the museum.

  1. When you arrive you will find on the Entrance Level Ice Age Mammals and the Evolution of the Horse.
  2. Travel to the Upper Level to see Human Evolution, Geology of the Connecticut River Valley and Bedrock Geology Model.
  3. The down to the Lower Level to check out the Hitchcock Ichnology Collection and Mesozoic Reptiles.

The museum’s resources offer several ways to supplement lessons on natural history.  Before arriving, print out their self guided tour of the Vertebrate Fossils in the museum, and go on a quest with your kids/students when you arrive to locate and learn about vertebrate fossils.  And get your kids excited about their  Oddities of the Natural History Museum Collection by screening an audio slide show together online beforehand.

To arrange a guided tour of the museum for your youth group or school, email Alfred J. Venne, Museum Educator, at avenne@amherst.edu. – The museum’s regular hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-4pm, and Thursdays from 6-10pm. Admission is free.  For more information visit www.amherst.edu/museums/naturalhistory.

Museum Haunting this Halloween at Amherst College

The Haunted Museum
at the Mead Museum of Art
Amherst College
Saturday, October 29th from 11am-3pm

Click to see poster

“Last year’s ‘Haunted Museum’ proved to be a tremendous success with children and grown-ups,” noted museum director and chief curator Elizabeth Barker, “We couldn’t wait to repeat it. The Docents do a wonderful job leading art-looking and art-making activities tailored to the interests of a wide range of visitors. We hope many families will take advantage of Amherst College’s free on-campus weekend parking, and join the fun!”

Amherst College’s Mead Museum of Art will come alive with Halloween spirit on Saturday, October 29th during their free family-friendly Haunted Museum! The spookier bits of the museum’s collection will be on display for those who dare to see them. Discover art and culture on a candle-lit tour of the galleries or a spooky scavenger hunt.  All afternoon there will be fun family activities, as well, including mask making, face painting, and pumpkin carving!  You can even celebrate Halloween with your taste buds by enjoying delicious local cider and cider donuts.  The event is lead by the college’s student museum docents and takes place from 11am-3pm.  For more information, call the museum at 413-542-5123.

Discover the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College this Saturday!

Mead Art Museum at Amherst College presents
The Nature of Art Pioneer Valley Community Celebration

Nature of Art Flyer

This Saturday, April 30th families will have a free opportunity to visit the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. Lots of interactive projects for kids and nature-themed lead tours of the museum's galleries.

On Saturday, April 30, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host a family-friendly event exploring the natural world through art, and celebrating images of nature in Amherst’s art collection. The fun-filled afternoon of activities for children and adults of all ages is free and open to the public.

The Mead’s volunteer Docents, an energetic group of college students from Amherst and the Five Colleges, will lead the Nature-themed celebrations, guiding tours of the museum’s galleries and offering scavenger hunts that promise to challenge visitors’ powers of observation. The Docents will also lead interactive art-making projects, including animal mask making and face painting, and harnessing wind power with a custom kite building workshop.

“The natural world has inspired artists throughout history,” noted museum director and chief curator Elizabeth Barker. “The Nature of Art promises a fresh look at the natural wonders inside the Mead—and inside our visitors’ imaginations.”

A complete schedule of the museum’s events is posted on the Mead’s Web site. The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please visit www.amherst.edu/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335.

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