Learning Ahead: March 30th-April 3rd, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 11 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

Thursday, April 2 – PSYCHOLOGY/SUSTAINABILITY: Yes! Magazine editor, Sarah van Gelder, will discuss her new book Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference at Water St. Books. Contributors, including Annie Leonard (Story of Stuff), restorative justice expert Fania Davis, buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, and biodiversity advocate Vandana Shiva, weigh in on how to cultivate a happiness that is sustainable in every sense: not only nurturing and enduring for ourselves, but also just and life-affirming for the world at large. The talk will be followed by a reception and book signing. 26 Water St. Williamstown, MA (FREE)

Friday, April 2, 2:30pm – ART STUDIES/HISTORY: The Norman Rockwell Museum hosts “Meet Rockwell’s Models.” Are you building your knowledge base of local art history? Find out what it was like to pose for America’s favorite illustrator from Rockwell’s own models, who will share their personal experiences. Great primary source program to support art studies. Check our a museum pass from the library and attend for free. 413-931-2221. 9 MA-183. Stockbridge, MA ($)

Franklin County

Wednesday, April 1, 6pm – PSYCHOLOGY: As part of the First Wednesday Speaker Series, the Greenfield Public Library presents a talk by Jonathan Shay, “Psychological and Moral Injury in Military Service.” Shay will discuss the experiences many veterans have upon returning home, and will connect these experiences with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Older students interested in psychology can learn from this talk. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA.

Hampshire County

Monday, March 30, 6:30pm-8pm – HEALTH/WELLNESS: Craig Fear will present a workshop on digestive health at River Valley Market on March 30. He will share dietary tips for overcoming common digestive problems, and will explain how the digestive system works and how modern diets differ from more traditional ones. This workshop may appeal to older students interested in nutrition, health, and wellness. Pre-registration is required. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday – April 1, 7pm-8:30pm – LOCAL HISTORY: Discover the history of Northampton at a free presentation at the Forbes Library. The library’s Information Services team will present, “Northampton and the Coolidges in the 1920s,” as part of All Hamptons Read – this year’s book is The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, which takes place in 1928. The presentation focuses on Northampton during the time of the book (the 1920s and early ’30s), and features historic photographs and a visual tour of the city. Go back in time nearly 100 years at this presentation, which also focuses on the Coolidges, who were living here around that time. See how the city has changed in the last century and compare what you know about Northampton today with what you learn about its past at this talk. This talk would be best for older students interested in local history and historic photographs. Call the library at 413-587-1011 for more information. 20 West Street, Northampton, MA (FREE)

Thursday, April 2, 5pm – LITERATURE/LANGUAGE STUDIES: Are you interested in learning more about the connections that exist between literature, language, and national identity? Author Shirin Nezammafi will present the Smith College East Asian Languages and Literatures Annual Department Lecture in Graham Hall in the Brown Fine Arts Center on the Smith College campus. Nezammafi’s talk, “The Encounters and Possibilities of Cross-Border Literature,” will focus on her works, which are written primarily in Japanese, and her ideas ideas about translation and national identity, and what they mean in terms of literature. Nezammafi was born in Tehran and attended school in Japan, and has received several awards for her writing in Japan. Older students who want to learn more about writing, language, and translation will enjoy this talk, which combines several fascinating aspects of the literary world. This talk is free and open to the public. Elm Street & Bedford Terrace, Northampton, MA (FREE)

Thursday, April 2, 7pm – FILM STUDIES: “Laughing Through Our Tears” is a Charlie Chaplin film series at Eastworks to raise money for the Cancer Connection. Tito Gambarini will present and discuss each film – a great opportunity to introduce students to Chaplin’s films. On April 7, see Lime Light. 116 Pleasant Street, Suite 160. Easthampton, MA. (FREE/DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

Thursday, April 2, 8pm; Friday, April 3, 8pm – DANCE STUDIES: Students interested in dance can attend the Smith College Senior Dance Concert – “Where We Agree.” Nine graduating seniors from the school’s dance department will perform in this concert, which features different types of dance and is a chance for aspiring dancers to see these talented dance students perform. Takes place in the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre in the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts on the Smith College campus. Tickets available in advance. 413-585-2787. 122 Green Street. Northampton, MA. ($)

Hampden County

Monday, March 30, 6pm – LOCAL HISTORY/IMMIGRATION: The Wistariahurst Museum’s spring lecture series, “Immigrant Communities in the Pioneer Valley,” continues on March 30 with a talk by Chicopee historian Stephen Jendrysik, who will present, “The Polish Community in Chicopee.” This talk would be great for students who are interested in learning more about local immigrant communities, those who are descended from immigrants to the area, or those want to learn about the immigrant experience in the Pioneer Valley. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. ($)

Monday, March 30, 6:30pm-8pm – LOCAL HISTORY/CEMETERIES: Old gravestones can teach us a lot about history – what the average life expectancy was for certain time periods, common names, prominent families, what kinds of art and symbolism were important to people, what religions were the most common, and many other things. Learn about the history of Wilbraham at the Wilbraham Public Library when the Gravestone Girls present “Welcome to the Graveyard. This talk focuses on the history and evolution of cemeteries and gravestones from the colonial era to the present day, and focuses on the symbolism of gravestone art and epitaphs. Older students interested in local history and the history of cemeteries will enjoy this free talk. Call the library at 413-596-6141 for more information. The Wilbraham Public Library is located at 25 Crane Park Drive in Wilbraham, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, March 31, 6pm-8:30pm – STEM: Teens can learn about robotics at the Springfield Museums’ Museum School on March 31. Participants will learn how to build and run real robots using LEGO Mindstorm NXT kits. Teens who are into technology and engineering will love learning about robots at this hands-on workshop! Purchase tickets in advance. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

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