Learning Ahead: Dec 8-12, 2014

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 12 events that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

Berkshire County

Thursday, December 11, 6pm – FILM STUDIES: Learn about film special effects at the Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema series, “FX in the Berkshires – Middle Earth to the Matrix.” On December 11, come see The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001; rated PG-13) and learn about the special effects in the film from Berkshire resident John Nugent, who worked on all three Lord of the Rings films. Older students interested in film studies will love getting to learn about the technology and effects behind this epic film. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Friday, December 12, 7:30pm – PERFORMANCE ART: Shakespeare and Company presents a special production of It’s a Wonderful Life – a live radio play! The performance is a funny and unique play-within-a-play that tells the classic Christmas Eve tale of It’s a Wonderful Life, complete with live radio commercials, sound effects, and more. This unique performance is a fun way to celebrate Christmas! Runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through December 28. 413-637-3353. 70 Kemble Street. Lenox, MA. ($$-$$$)

Franklin County

Friday, December 12, 7:30pm – CULTURE/HISTORY: Welcome Yule: A Midwinter Celebration consists of delightful music, dance, songs and stories celebrating the return of the light this winter. The show is in its 30th year, and this year, it is about a small English village in medieval times. Young villagers steal from the rich and give to the poor so everyone can have a plentiful Christmas. All ages can enjoy the Welcome Yule’s signature carols, festivities, the passing of the yule log, stick dancing, a mummers play, and the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. The performance takes place at the Shea Theater. 413-323-4239. 71 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA ($)

Hampshire County

Monday, December 8, 4:30pm-6:30pm – CULINARY ARTS: Pioneer Valley Bread House is holding a bread-baking event that’s open to everyone! Come learn about the art and symbolism of decorating breads and share, learn, and create with community members. Baking bread is a fun and useful skill and this is a perfect event to help you get started! Takes place at Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. 83 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, December 8, 6:30pm-8pm – CULINARY ARTS: What’s the differences between Cheddar, Gouda, Provolone, Feta and Parmesan cheese? Older teens and adults can learn about the different varieties of importated and local cheeses and how to pair them at Whole Foods Market in Hadley. Stop by the customer service desk to sign up. 413-586-9932. 327 Russell Street. Hadley, MA. ($)

Monday, December 8, 6pm – BIOLOGY/CHEMISTRY: Come to Amherst Brewing Company for this month’s Sci.Tech.Café! The topic this month is “Curing Diseases with Code: Molecular Simulations in Drug Discovery.” Professor Woody Sherman will present on drug design, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. Those interested in biology and chemistry will enjoy this talk, which is designed for community members without science backgrounds. 10 University Drive. Amherst, MA.

Monday, December 8, 6pm – SCIENCE: The UMass Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department presents OEB Science Cafes at Esselon Cafe each month. This month’s talk is by Dr. Luke Remage-Healey, who will present, “Bird Brain: The Science of Learning Songs.” Science Cafes are oriented towards adults without a science background, but are interesting to those with science backgrounds as well! Older students interested in science would enjoy the Science Cafes. 99 Russell Street. Hadley, MA.

Monday, December 8, 7pm – DANCE STUDIES/BALLET: See the world-renowned Russian ballet company Bolshoi Ballet perform La Bayadere on the big screen at Amherst Cinema. The performance was filmed live and will be screened at the Cinema for dance lovers of all ages. Tickets available in advance. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. ($$)

Tuesday, December 9, 8pm – MUSIC STUDIES/WEST AFRICAN: The Mt. Holyoke College Music Department presents a performance by the Five College West African Drum Ensembles. Students can learn about West African traditions and music at this engaging concert. Takes place in McCulloch Auditorium. 413-538-2306. Lower Lake Road. South Hadley, MA.

Hampden County

Tuesday, December 9, 6pm-8pm – VISUAL ART: Teens and tweens ages 11-18 who are interested in art can attend a drawing/painting class at Gateway City Arts. This class, which focuses on drawing and painting, is geared towards beginners. Learn how to draw and paint using a variety of techniques, including pen and ink, charcoal, watercolor, and more. This class is a great chance for young artists to improve on their skills and learn new techniques. The class runs every Tuesday, and you can enroll at any time. 413-650-2670. 92-114 Race Street. Holyoke, MA. ($$)

Wednesday, December 10, 6pm-8pm – CULTURE/HISTORY: Celebrate Yuletide by Lantern Light at Storrowton Village. Go on a self-guided tour of the Village, which will be decorate for the holidays in a traditional way. Learn about what the holiday season was like in New England in the past at this unique event. 413-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (>$)

Thursday, December 11, 12:15pm – LITERARY ART/HISTORY: This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “From Circuses to Shanty Towns: Turning Fact into Historical Fiction” with author M.P. Barker. Barker will discuss the research behind her historical novel Mending Horses, which is set in 1830s New England. Older students interested in books and history will enjoy this talk. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

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