30 Community Highlights: Water Mills to Urban Forestry. Fibonacci Sequence to Artbotics.
Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured learning highlight this week: Do you want to learn more about notable Worthington residents of the past? Discover interesting bits of local history on a free cemetery tour with the Worthington Historical Society on Saturday evening, August 9. One night before the full moon, you can explore Worthington’s oldest surviving cemetery (Center Cemetery) and see the grave sites of notable residents. The tour will also take you past the site of the town’s first cemetery, which is now a pasture, as well as the town’s first parsonage and oldest building. Cemetery tours can teach about local history through their focus on people who lived in the past – who lived here? What did they do? How/when did they die? What legacy did they leave behind? Older students who are interested in local history will enjoy this opportunity to discover the history of the Hilltowns in Worthington.
Citizen Scientist ♦ Local History ♦ STEM ♦ Nature Studies ♦ Geology ♦ Hiking ♦ Cultural Studies/Music ♦ Industrial History ♦ Community Service ♦ Art ♦ Film Studies ♦ Agriculture/Dairy Farming ♦ Animal Studies ♦ Ornithology/Raptors ♦ Educators Workshop ♦ Current Affairs
Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
Community-based educational opportunities exist in all communities… even a lack of resources can act as a catalyst to engage and learn in your community! Moved to action by a declining public shade tree canopy, citizens in Northampton are taking action to build a case for better urban forestry. In the process, volunteers participate in service-based learning as citizen scientists, learn about the importance & benefits of shade trees, discover what shade trees already exist along their streets, and use technology to analyze the benefits of an urban forest. The hopeful outcome will be more shade trees in their city… and if there is anything that helps a child feel connected to where they live, it’s surely a big old shade tree along the sidewalks outside their home! Observing, climbing and swinging in the branches can potentially integrate learning on so many levels! So don’t let a lack of resources in your town hold you back! Let it inspired you to engage in your community to bring about a desired outcome, supporting learning along the way!
Do you want to learn more about notable Worthington residents of the past? Discover interesting bits of local history on a free cemetery tour with the Worthington Historical Society on Saturday evening, August 9. One night before the full moon, you can explore Worthington’s oldest surviving cemetery (Center Cemetery) and see the grave sites of notable residents. The tour will also take you past the site of the town’s first cemetery, which is now a pasture, as well as the town’s first parsonage and oldest building. Cemetery tours can teach about local history through their focus on people who lived in the past – who lived here? What did they do? How/when did they die? What legacy did they leave behind? Older students who are interested in local history will enjoy this opportunity to discover the history of the Hilltowns in Worthington.
Ask your child what a family would have done in the 1800’s if their home caught on fire before the invention of modern day fire departments. They might have had to rely on private fire brigades, but only if their home had a fire insurance mark! Learning about the history of the occupation of a fireman gives a unique perspective into the history of our country and the development of technology. The Athol Public Library presents “A Fireman of 1899: His Life and Job,” presented by William H. Moss on Thursday evening, August 14. Moss will be dressed as a firefighter of the time and will present on what it was like to be a firefighter in the 19th century, taking families through a typical day in the life of a fireman during the 1800′s. This free program is great for those interested in history and in learning what life was like in the past! To further your learning at home, tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show Firefighter Episode with guest DJs, Chicago Firefighters John and Pete. A fun radio show/podcast for the whole family!
Girls in grades 8-12 who like science, technology, engineering, and math can participate in the Girls STEM Summit at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Saturday, November 1. Students who are interested in pursuing STEM fields in higher education are encouraged to attend this event, where they can work closely with female STEM career professionals and educators. This event is an incredible opportunity for girls who are serious about careers in STEM fields – they can gain hands-on experience and learn about STEM industries from experts in the field. Registration is required – space is limited to 120 participants, so please register ASAP. Call 617-512-1794 for more information. UMass Lowell is located at 1 University Avenue in Lowell, MA. ($$)
Families with kids in preschool-3rd grade can come to the Mason Library for SIK Science on Saturday morning, August 9. Come learn about science and have fun making lava lamps at this free STEM event at the library in Great Barrington
Enjoy a performance of “Science Rocks! Exercise Your Mind and Body” with Flumpa and Friends at the Springfield Museums‘ Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts on Friday afternoon, August 15. This science-filled show will entertain all ages!
Families can explore and learn about nature at Project Native‘s free Family Fun Fest on Saturday morning, August 9, in Housatonic. Family members of all ages can do tons of fun, hands-on activities to help increase their understanding of plants and animals. These activities include nature-related activities like making seed balls, going on a butterfly and bug safari, face painting, doing bug crafts, looking at things under a microscope, and going on a self-guided StoryWalk. This is a great chance to discover Project Native and all that they do for the community and to learn about the many amazing plants, animals, and insects that live in the area!
The Holyoke Public Library hosts Nature’s Designs, a special program that will show how the Fibonacci Sequence and Golden Ratio appear in nature, using plant and animal shapes to illustrate on Friday, morning August 15. Presented by Kevin Kopchynski, the free program will be exciting, informative, and surprising! Read our post, Fibonacci Sequence & Golden Ratio Drive Nature Based Education, to discover how nature’s patterns reveal mathematical reasoning!
Friday, August 8 – Sunday, August 10, the East Coast Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show takes place this weekend at the Eastern States Exposition’s Better Living Center. Come see and buy minerals, fossils, decoration pieces, gems, jewelry, beads, and more in West Springfield. Bring your questions and curiosity and discover how these gems and mineral formed and where they came from. Ask about fossils on display and find out what sorts of animal impressions have been preserved in stone and how it came to be.
Hemlock Brook… what’s in a name? Participate with the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation in a free interpretive hike at Hemlock Brook on Saturday afternoon, August 9. Learn about the natural history of the brook, as well as the geology, plants, and animals of the surrounding area on this intergenerational hike.
Join the Berkshire Natural Resources Council for a night hike on the Threemile Hill Trail between the Berkshire South Regional Community Center and Fountain Pond in Great Barrington on Saturday evening, August 9. This easy, 1.5-mile hike is a great chance to explore the outdoors at night.
What sort of critters come out at night this time of year? What insect sounds can you identify after the sun sets? Explore Notchview at night on a full moon hike with the Trustees of Reservations on Sunday evening, August 10. Families will learn about the summer moon and what the forest is like at night during this intergenerational hike in Windsor.
Join the Berkshire Natural Resources Council for a hike at Constitution Hill on Wednesday, August 13 in Lanesborough. Explore this beautiful natural area and learn some Berkshire history! This easy hike takes place on wood roads and paths.
The 9th Annual Rock, Rattle, and Drum Pow Wow takes place Saturday, August 9 through Sunday, August 10 at Bowe Field at the Adams Agricultural Fairgrounds. This is a celebration of American Indian music, dance, and culture, and features live music by Arvel Bird, a performance by the Aztec Dancers, other entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, dancing, storytelling, educational activities, and more. The whole family will enjoy this event dedicated to American Indian cultures
The annual Charlemont Reggae Festival takes place on Saturday, August 9! There will be tons of live music all day, as well as vendors, kids’ activities, and more! Takes place at the Charlemont Fairgrounds.
Celebrate the arts and culture of Springfield at the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival on Saturday, August 9. This free festival features live performances by well-known jazz musicians, drum circles, drum and dance performances, music workshops, and more. The whole family will enjoy this fun day of jazz right in downtown Springfield’s Court Square.
Discover local and industrial history at “Made in the Valley: 19th Century Industry and Craftsmanship” at the Swift River Valley Historical Society on Sunday afternoon, August 10 in New Salem. This free event will have educational demonstrations, live music by Bright Lines, and more. The event is meant to commemorate and teach about the work done by blacksmiths, tinsmiths, hat makers, saddle makers, and other craftspeople in the Swift River Valley towns of the 19th Century. Modern crafters will be at the event to demonstrate many of these skills, and visitors will get a chance to try their hand at threading a screw with an adjustable die – an important 19th-century innovation that was first patented in Greenfield and that made repairing agricultural and industrial machinery far easier. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy learning about our region’s rich industrial history!
Learn about the water mills of the hilltowns and how they related to the mills of the valley with the Colrain Historical Society in the Stacy Carriage Barn on Thursday evening, August 14. This talk will be presented with maps and photos and would be interesting to older students who want to learn more about local and/or industrial history.
Families can work together with community members to help remove invasive plants from Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area. on Saturday afternoon, August 9. Survey the Lake by canoe or kayak and search for invasive water chestnut to remove. Kids and adults can learn about plants and conservation and gain hands-on experience doing outdoor volunteer work at this event.
Explore Easthampton’s local art scene at this month’s Art Walk on Saturday afternoon, August 9. This is a free evening out that lets you see work by talented local artists and experience some of the great art-related opportunities Easthampton has to offer! There will also be tons of great activities around town.
Alloy Orchestra returns to MASS MoCA in North Adams to perform a live score to the silent film, He Who Gets Slapped (1924). Using its famous “rack of junk” — horseshoes, truck springs, radiator pipes, sheet metal, air-conditioning ducts, and vacuum cleaner canisters — Alloy Orchestra will produce live accompaniment to this classic motion pictures from the silent film era. A great chance to share a slice of cinema history with your young film enthusiasts! In our archived post by speech-language pathologist Kathy Puckett, “Language Play: Learning Communication with Silent Films,” Kathy outlines the potential language learning opportunities silent films offer too. She writes, “For all kids who are creative, silent movies offer a great basis to experience the nature of film as communication. Parents can scaffold along the way by asking questions like ‘What is she thinking?’ or ‘Why would he do that?'” This event is best for older students interested in film studies and younger kids with audience skills.
Casablanca (1942; rated PG) is often regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. You can learn how the movie went from unproduced play to one of Hollywood’s most beloved films at Amherst Cinema’s “Film School in 60 Minutes,” which takes place Sunday at noon, August 10. Film buffs of all ages can come learn about the making of the film, how the actors felt about it, how it was directed, and what some of the behind-the-scenes tricks were. Local filmmaker Nina Kleinberg will present this program, which will show raw footage, clips, and production stills. Be sure to catch one of Amherst Cinema’s screening of Casablanca as part of their Big Screen Classics series on Sunday afternoon, August 10 or Wednesday evening, August 13.
Join the Berkshire Co-Op Market for a dairy farm tour of Leahey Farm in Lee on Sunday morning, August 10. The Farm has been producing and selling milk for nearly 100 years, and you can come learn about its history, how the farm expanded into meat production, what it’s like to be a dairy farmer, and more. This farm tour would be best for older students interested in agriculture and local food.
Meet and learn about some interesting reptiles with Teaching Creatures at the East Springfield Branch Library or at the and at the Sixteen Acres Branch Library on Tuesday afternoon, August 12. All ages will have fun seeing these reptiles up close at these free events in Springfield.
Rick Roth of The Teaching Creatures will present a program on the “Wonderful Mammals of Fields and Forests” at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. in Stockbridge on Friday morning, August 15. Roth will teach about some interesting animals and their natural history and will have several with him – a fisher cat, a grey fox, skunk, flying squirrels, and others.
Come learn about birds of prey at the Swift River Valley Historical Society with Julie Anne Collier of Wingmasters in New Salem on Wednesday evening, August 12. Collier will present “Native Raptors, Native Artifacts,” a free program focused on live raptors and Native American artifacts. See live raptors, learn about the birds, and learn about the connections between these birds and the Native Americans of the northeast. This program is appropriate for all ages.
Learn about birds of prey at the Worthington Library with Tom Ricardi on Thursday morning, August 14. He will present a free program about these fascinating birds and bring some to the library.
Educators can learn about Artbotics, a combination of art and robotics that is used to teach students computer science using LEGO Mindstorm, at a workshop at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke on Wednesday, August 13. This free workshop is ideal for educators who are interested in teaching computer science in the classroom, in after school groups, etc.
With horrifying images bombarding our news screens and social media feeds, it is difficult to determine the reality of the current Gaza crisis. Join the Odyssey Bookshop on Wednesday evening, August 13, for “Understanding the Gaza Crisis,” a presentation and Q&A with Phyllis Bennis, author, activist, and fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, followed by an Arabic musical performance by Simon Shaheen, an internationally acclaimed virtuoso on the ‘oud and violin. Best for older students interested in current affairs.
[Photo credit: (cc) Goran Pugar]
Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Ashfield, Bernardston, Charlemont/Hawley, Chesterfield, Conway, Heath, Leyden, Montague, Montgomery, South Hadley and Shutesbury Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.