Engaging Experiences at the Berkshire Museum
When you think of the Berkshires, images of the green and blanketed Tanglewood lawn may come to mind, or the beautiful colors of fall in the Hilltowns, but the Berkshires don’t close up shop for the winter! The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA has a busy winter season planned, with engaging new exhibitions, hands-on public programming, and lots of opportunities for family fun and learning.
Because the bat population is so fragile, Bats: Creatures of the Night features bat models that visitors can learn from rather than live bats, but the Berkshire Museum will host live bats on March 10th at 1pm! In a one-day-only special event, Rob Mies of the Organization for Bat Conservation will present a big brown bat, fruit bats from Africa and Asia, and the largest bat in the world- the Malayan flying fox – which sports an incredible six-foot wingspan.
The Berkshire Museum’s newest exhibit, Bats: Creatures of the Night, will be on exhibit through May 12, 2013, and is filled with opportunities to have fun while learning about these mysterious creatures. Grab a gallery guide as you enter the exhibit, choose a bat persona, and begin the Bat Survival Challenge, a game that leads you around the exhibit as you see if you can survive a year in the life of a bat. You can also learn how bats navigate and hunt by approaching the museum’s sensor-filled echolocation wall and watching how and when the bat-mimicking sensors pick you up. There are giant bat ears that you can try listening through to see how well bats hear. There are also plenty of bat mounts and models that allow you to see just what these mammals look like up close. Some of them have some pretty funky features!
The Berkshire Museum education department is offering a brand new education program with this exhibition. Bats: Out of the Cave and into the Night can be adapted to students of all ages. In it students will learn about bats’ incredible adaptations, how they benefit us and our environment, and the risks they are facing. Students and teachers will also get to experiment with the Berkshire Museum’s own echolocation machine, BAT-BOT. Teachers- can you navigate blindly through a maze of your students using only the readouts from the museum’s echolocation sensors? Come find out, and then challenge your students to navigate like bats as well. Families can also try BAT-BOT during the museum’s Bats gallery program, which will be presented in the Bats exhibit halls on the second Saturday of each month, through May, at 11am.
Winter can be a time where kids can go a little ‘batty’ themselves. Fortunately the Berkshire Museum has several programs were kids can come in, explore, experiment, and play!
Get a taste of chemistry as a mad scientist at Kitchen Kaboom! at the Berkshire Museum on the last Saturday of every month! Along with the help of the museum’s very own crazy chemist, kids can learn how to do exciting and surprising (and safe!) experiments with regular household materials.
Kitchen Ka-Boom, the museum’s new family-friendly physical science program, offers kids the opportunity to learn while making a mess! Whether participants are shooting a rocket to the ceiling with Alka-Seltzer and water, or making gooey slime, participants are learning through some sort of surprise reaction. Taking place on the last Saturday of every month, all experiments involve simple and kid-friendly ingredients, most of which can be found around the house or at your local grocery store. Each participant leaves with a sheet of information detailing the science behind the experiment and how you can replicate it at home. This information is also posted on the museum’s website in case you want to see what we’re up to from home. The museum strives to introduce new experiments each session, keeping budding scientists coming back! Find program details here: Kitchen Ka-Boom.
Animals Up Close: The Wolf will be presented on Tuesday, February 19, at 1pm, featuring special guest Atka, an Arctic Gray Wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. As an animal ambassador, Atka travels to help educate people about wolves and their relationship to our environment, and how humans have an important role in protecting their future.
WeeMuse: Ten Days of Play begins at the museum on Thursday, February 14, continuing through Saturday, February 23. Have you ever spent hours choosing the best new toy for your child, only to find that they are much more excited to play with box it came in? This ubiquitous experience is the basis for this exciting new program. Ten Days of Play highlights the importance of child-directed play. The Crane Room will be filled with play materials like paper and cardboard boxes that you and your child can use in whatever way you imagine daily from 11-3pm. This program is free with museum admission and presented in partnership with the Transition Team of Pittsfield and Pop-Up Adventure Play.
Do you have a budding filmmaker who will be home during February break? Send them to the museum for February Vacation Movie Camp! From Monday, February 18, through Friday, February 22, students in grades 3-6 will get the opportunity to work a group film with film producer Erica Spizz. Students will be involved with all aspects of the film, from creating the storyline to the acting and filming. On Friday, Feb. 22, friends and families will get to watch the final product in a special screening in the Berkshire Museum Theater. And this summer, the Berkshire Museum will offer some new and exciting summer camps, as well as some returning favorites!
ABOUT THE BERKSHIRE MUSEUM
The Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South Street on Route 7 in downtown Pittsfield, MA. The Museum was established by Zenas Crane in 1903 as a museum of art and natural history. Little Cinema is open year-round; Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing. The Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday 12noon-5pm. For more information, visit www.berkshiremuseum.org or call 413-443-7171. Museum admission is $13 for adults and $6 for children. Members and children aged three and under enjoy free admission.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emma Kerr is the Natural Science Education Specialist at the Berkshire Museum, where she teaches school and public programs on all subjects, from animation to aquarium animals. A native of central Massachusetts, Emma now lives in Pittsfield.