Learning Ahead: Feb 16th-20th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 12 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.

Sponsor Learning Ahead

Berkshire County

Friday, February 27, 5pm – FOOD/FILM STUDIES: Fresh Fest is a film festival taking place at Images Cinema, featuring films focused on food and sustainability. Come see Mussels in Love (2012) and learn all about this interesting (and delicious) shellfish. Witness the life cycle of the mussel and hear incredible stories about its uses and roles in a variety of fields. Best for older students interested in documentary film, food studies, marine biology and sustainability. 413-458-5612. 50 Spring Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE/DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

Franklin County

Tuesday, February 24, 5:30pm-8pm – FILM STUDIES: Film fans of all ages can join Red Gate Farm’s Film Club! Come watch, discuss, analyze, and make films with other film-loving community members of all ages. Call to sign up. 413-625-9503. 4 Norman Road. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Monday, February 23, 6pm – PHYSICS: Do you ever wonder what the universe is made of? Then you are not alone! Even physicists don’t know what most of the universe is made of – it’s so vast, how could we ever find out? Learn what we do know about the universe and how we know it at this month’s Sci.Tech.Café. Held at the Amherst Brewing Company, Professor Gary Felder will present “Dark Matter and Energy: We Really Don’t Know What Most of the Universe is Made of,” which delves into matter, dark matter, dark energy, and what their differences are. Anyone who has ever wondered about the make-up of the universe would enjoy this talk, which is designed for community members without science backgrounds. 10 University Drive, Amherst, MA.

Tuesday, February 24, 12:30pm – CLASSICAL MUSIC/MUSIC STUDIES: 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, Joel Pitchon and Judith Gordon will perform on violin and piano. Takes place at Sweeney Concert Hall. 413-585-3222. 122 Green Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, February 24, 7pm-8:30pm – PLANT/FOOD STUDIES: Join the Westhampton Public Library for Grown in Westhampton, with Blanche Cybele Derby. She will show a film about wild plants and discuss the culinary uses of edible wild plants. Best for older students interested in edible wild plants. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, February 24, 7:30pm – DANCE/MUSIC/CULTURAL STUDIES: The UMass Fine Arts Center presents a performance by Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo. The group combines Afro-Brazilian dance forms, jazz, and ballet in this exciting and lively performance inspired by the sea and the songs of medieval Galician-Portuguese troubadours. Audience members are invited to stay for a post-performance talk with company dancers. Best for older students interested in dance. Takes place in Fine Arts Center Concert Hall. Tickets available in advance. 413-545-2511. 151 Presidents Drive. Amherst, MA. ($$)

Hampden County

Monday, February 23, 6pm-7:30pm – YOGA: Teens in grades 6 and up are invited to the Chicopee Public Library for Yoga for Teens. This is a great chance to introduce teens to yoga! Call to sign up. 413-594-1800 x120. 449 Front Street. Chicopee, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, on February 26, 7pm – COMICS/WOMEN STUDIES: Comic books have long been an important medium for exploring issues of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, and homophobia, as well as significant historic events. Ever since the introduction of Wonder Woman in the early 1940s, the number of female comic book characters (and creators) has been increasing – but do these characters get the same kind of attention as male superheroes or characters? Why are comic books seen as a stereotypically male interest? Explore these questions at the Comic Book Heroines Panel at Bay Path University. This free panel discussion will feature several unique panelists – Aleksandra Chernyak, a Bay Path student interested in the history of American comics; Christopher Couch, a professor and comic book author; Denis Kitchen, founder of the Comic Book Legal Defense fund; and Anne Thalheimer, an artist and educator interested in women in comics. Older students who are interested in comics can learn from this exciting panel discussion surrounding an important topic in 21st Century comics. 413-565-1066. 588 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, February 24, 6pm-8pm – ARTS & CRAFTS/UPCYCLING: Ages 8 and up can learn how to upcycle plastic at The Yellow House on February 24. Their plastic upcycling workshop will teach participants how to make a durable fabric out of plastic bags and wrappers. After the fabric is created, you can glue, sew, draw, or cut to create a cool snap pouch to take home. Materials provided. Register in advance. 413-289-6091. 1479 North Main Street. Palmer, MA. ($$)

Wednesday, February 25, 6pm – LOCAL HISTORY/TRANSPORTATION: The Holyoke History Room presents, “Taking the Train to Holyoke: Then and Now,” with Nancy Howard. Learn about the history of trains in Holyoke and about the origins of the H.H. Richardson passenger rail station. Attendees can also learn about the future of rail travel in Holyoke from the city’s Director of Planning and Economic Development, Marcos Marrero. Best for older students and adults interested in local history and trains. 413-420-8107. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA.

Thursday, February 26, 12:15pm – ART HISTORY/FRENCH ART: This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “French Art in Springfield, Massachusetts and Paris,” with Amy S. Dane. She will talk about the Springfield Museums’ French art collection and compare these pieces with those in Parisian museums. Best for older students. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

Thursday, February 26, 3pm-4:30pm – ANIME: Teens in grades 7-12 can watch anime, read manga, draw, and discuss with peers at the Chicopee Public Library‘s Anime Club. 413-594-1800 x120. 449 Front Street. Chicopee, MA. (FREE)

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