Learning Ahead: Feb 2nd-6th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 13 community-based educational opportunities 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.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:



Berkshire County

Thursday, February 5, 7pm – FILM STUDIES/SPECIAL EFFECTS: Learn about film special effects at the Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema series, “FX in the Berkshires – Middle Earth to the Matrix.” On February 5, come see The Matrix (1999; rated R) and learn about the special effects in the film from Berkshire resident Diane Pearlman, who is a special effects supervisor who helped develop the effects for the film and many others. Older teens (movie is rated R) 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, February 6, 8pm – MUSIC STUDIES/A CAPPELLA: The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center presents a performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo on February 6. Come see this legendary South African a cappella group perform their joyous and uplifting music at this concert. Purchase tickets in advance. 413-528-0100. 14 Castle Street. Great Barrington, MA. ($$$)

Franklin County

Wednesday, February 4, 7pm – LOCAL CULTURE/MAPLE SYRUP: Screening of A Sweet Tradition, a film about maple sugaring, New England’s first harvest of the year, will be held at Gill Town Hall, followed by a Q&A. This film “portrays the love and labor of families who make maple syrup,” a great supplement to any natural science, food/nutrition, and local history studies. Q&A panel includes: Steve Alves, Film Producer; Jim Graves, Former President of MA Maple Producers; and Steve Damon, VP For Education of MA Association of AgComs. Gill Town Hall; 325 Main Rd. Gill, MA (FREE)

Friday, February 6, 9:30am-10:20pm – LOCAL CULTURE/WINTER CELEBRATION: Community celebrations are great opportunities to learn about your local culture. Greenfield’s 93rd Annual Winter Carnival takes place February 6, 7, and 8 all over town. This year’s theme is Frozen Over, and there will be loads of fun activities for community members of all ages. Head into town for ice carving, a bonfire, a parade of lights, fireworks, public skating, a LEGO contest, face painting, art exhibits, a road race, a cribbage tournament, the 23rd annual Memorial Hockey Game, snowshoeing, live music, contests at Beacon Field, and so much more. See the Winter Carnival website for a full schedule of these great events. 413-772-1553. Greenfield, MA. (FREE/>$)

Hampshire County

Monday, February 2, 7pm – STEM/NEUROANATOMY: Nerd Nite Noho presents Nerd Nite 15 at Eastworks! Hear talks on the neuroanatomy behind the senses and how illusions can be used to trick the brain. Ph.D. candidate Kristina Curro will present a talk on neuroanatomy, reality, and perception, and Joshua Yearsley will present a talk on games and how some are redefining the medium and helping us connect with others, foster new perspectives, and become better people. Older students interested in these topics will enjoy Nerd Nite. 116 Pleasant Street. Easthampton, MA. (>$)

Tuesday, February 3, 12:30pm – MUSIC STUDIES/CLASSICAL MUSIC: Take the opportunity to relax and enjoy live music at Smith College’s Music in the Noon Hour event. Smith faculty artists and friends will perform half-hour recitals of classical music. This week, Monica Jakuc Leverett will perform fortepiano. Takes place at Sweeney Concert Hall. 413-585-3222. 122 Green Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, February 4, 10am-12noon – HIKING/DENDROLOGY: Hilltown Land Trust will lead a guided hike at The Trustees of Reservations’ Petticoat Hill property. This strenuous 1.5-mile hike will take you far above Williamsburg to what was once cleared pasture with views of the Holyoke Range. The area is now home to diverse hardwoods, including red and black oak, shagbark hickory, maples, and others. All ages are welcome. Bring snowshoes if snowy. Call to RSVP. 413-628-4485 x4. Petticoat Hill Road. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, February 4, 7:30pm – CULTURAL & COMMUNITY STUDIES: Join the UMass Amherst History Department for a screening of, “Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican?”: A Cape Verdean American Story, on February 4. The documentary is about a community of immigrants from the Cape Verde Islands living in the Fox Point section of Providence, Rhode Island and how they are dealing with urban renewal and gentrification. This documentary may appeal to older students interested in immigration. Takes place UMass Isenberg School of Management, room 137. 121 Presidents Drive. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, February 5 & Friday, February 6, 8pm-10pm – DANCE STUDIES/MODERN & POSTMODERN: Second-year graduate students from the Smith College Department of Dance will perform at a MFA Thesis Dance Concert. Older students interested in dance can see these talented MFA candidates perform modern and postmodern dance, improvisation, percussive dance, hip hop, performance art, and more. Tickets available in advance. Takes place in Theatre 14 at the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts on the Smith College campus. 413-585-2787. 122 Green Street. Northampton, MA. ($)

Friday, February 6, 7pm-9pm – MUSIC/POETRY/HISTORY: The Plainfield Congregational Church is holding a benefit concert to raise money for the historical Shaw-Hudson House. The concert, which is an exploration of early-20th Century music and poetry, features the spirituals of African-American soldiers, songs of lost youth and lost love, work songs, Appalachian folk songs, British folk songs, and more. Musicians Laurie Israel, David Perkins, William Sheppard, and June Persing will perform. Alice Schertle and Susan Pearson will read poetry from the time period as well as contemporary accounts. Older students interested in history will enjoy this event. 356 West Main Street. Plainfield, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION)

Hampden County

Tuesday, February 3, 3pm-4:30pm – FILM STUDIES/STOP MOTION ANIMATION: Teens are invited to the Chicopee Public Library to take part in a LEGO stop motion project. Come learn about stop motion animation, how to use the Stop Motion Studio app, and film your project. Call to sign up. 413-594-1800 x120. 449 Front Street. Chicopee, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, February 3, 7pm – ART/AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY: Artist/author Robin Joyce Miller will present “Rhythms of a Faithful Journey: Verses from Slavery to Presidency” at Elms College on February 3. This program features a lecture and gallery exhibit of 14 mixed-media collage quilts, which illustrate events in African-American history or poetry from Miller’s book, Rhythms of a Faithful Journey. Miller’s presentation is a personal narrative of the journey to restoration and healing through faith, art, poetry, and photography. Older students interested in art and African-American history and art may enjoy this program. 291 Springfield Street. Chicopee, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, February 5, 12:15pm – LOCAL HISTORY/AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY: This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley,” with Cliff McCarthy. He will tell four freedom stories of African Americans who lived in the Pioneer Valley – Jupiter Richards, Jenny (Cumfry) Williams, the Rescue of Angeline Palmer, and the League of Gileadites. While these stories are local, they can teach about the history of racial policy in America. Best for older students. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

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