Learning Ahead: April 6th-10th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 20 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 Marlboro College:



Berkshire County

Wednesday, April 8, 7am-8am – BIRD STUDIES: Learn how to identify common birds with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council on a walk at Housatonic Flats. The walk is on flat, level terrain along the Housatonic River and would be great for students interested in learning more about birds. 413-499-0596. Route 7. Great Barrington, MA.

Thursday, April 9, 5:15pm-6:30pm – HEALTH/WELLNESS: Wild Oats Market is offering a workshop with Emily Celeste Watts entitled, “Eating with the Season: Ayurvedic Recipes, Herbs and Spices to Support the Transition into Spring.” All are welcome to attend this workshop and learn about Ayurvedic techniques and recipes. Call or stop by the front desk to sign up. 413-458-8060. 320 Main Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 9, 5:30pm – ART/GOVERNMENT: Learn about free speech at the Norman Rockwell Museum’s “Four Freedoms Forum: The Pen and the Sword: Visual Imagery and Freedom of Expression.” This discussion will engage older students and adults in the topic of free speech and the role of artist as social commentator. Older students with an interest in government and art can learn from this lecture and discussion, and can come with questions of their own to examine during the program. 413-298-4100. 9 Route 183. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 9, 7:30pm – PSYCHOLOGY/MAGIC: When a magician performs a trick, they rely on how an audience thinks and engages with their act. This enables them to control the attention of the audience, manipulate their memories and even influence the choices they make. Why they are able to do this is buried deep within the depths of psychology. At MASS MoCA, the screening of “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay” is the captivating result of this curious conundrum: a mesmerizing journey into the world of modern magic. Followed by a Q&A with the documentary film maker. 413-662-2111. 1040 Mass Moca Way.North Adams, MA (>$)

Friday, April 10, 8am-10am – BIRD STUDIES: Learn about birds and search the skies for different migrant species with Mass Audubon at Canoe Meadows. Come every week to see how the species change as spring progresses! 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (>$)

Friday, April 10, 2:30pm-3:30pm – ART HISTORY: Learn the stories behind some of Norman Rockwell’s most famous paintings at the Norman Rockwell Museum with Curator of Education Tom Daly. Best for older students interested in art. Free with museum admission. 413-298-4100. 9 Route 183. Stockbridge, MA. ($$)

Friday, April 10, 7pm – MUSIC HISTORY: Did you know that one of the first American songwriters of popular music came from Sheffield? George F. Root had over 35 “hits” in the middle of the 19th century, most of which were written during and were about the Civil War. This includes the iconic “The Battle Cry of Freedom.” Root’s descendant Ann Elizabeth Barnes will be giving a presentation about him, “Music In The Air: the Life and Music of George Frederick Root,” taking you on a multi-media journey through the Civil War in narrative, song and slide presentation to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war’s end. The presentation will include a live musical performance by Larry Wallach and Graham and Barbara Dean. 413-229-2694. Dewey Hall, 91 Main St. Sheffield, MA (FREE)

Franklin County

Thursday, April 9, 7pm-9pm – GEOLOGY: If you live in or around Erving, you’ve likely driven past the big roadcut on Route 2 across from the Erving Paper Company hundreds of times, but do you know the history behind this familiar feature? Learn about the “Great Wall of Erving” at a free talk by local geology enthusiasts Harry Sharbaugh and Ed Gregory, and Holyoke Community College Earth Science Professor Steve Winters, in the Main Building on the Greenfield Community College campus on April 9 from 7pm-9pm. The Pioneer Valley Institute presents this talk and virtual tour, which focuses on the rich geologic history of the roadcut. Those who are interested in geology can see an up-close tour of the roadcut, which showcases several hundred million years of geologic history. How did it form? What kind of rocks are in it? Why is still on the side of the road? Attend the talk and you’ll never look at the roadcut the same way again! Call the Pioneer Valley Institute at 413-775-1671 for more information. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Monday, April 6, 4pm – STEM/WOMEN’S STUDIES: As part of the Women in Science Initiative, Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University will present “Gender Matters” in the UMass Amherst Campus Center Auditorium on April 6. Dr. Natarajan is a theoretical astrophysicist, and she will discuss gender inequality in STEM fields and how to promote gender equity, inclusion, and diversity in science and technology at Yale and in general. This talk would be great for older students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. 1 Campus Center Way. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 7, 10am-4pm – ART: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art‘s new exhibition, The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs, opens on April 7 and will be on display through August 30. Fans of Carle’s work will enjoy this exhibition, which features works about insects. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. ($)

Tuesday, April 7, 4pm – EDUCATOR WORKSHOP: STEM educators can attend the UMass STEM Ed Institute’s Tuesday Seminar on April 7. Debbie Carlisle will present, “Developing Students Spatial Skills in General Chemistry,” which focuses on preparing students for advance studies in chemistry. Takes place in Hasbrouck 138. 666 North Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 8, 7pm-9pm – BIRD STUDIES: Older students and adults interested in learning how to identify bird songs and calls can attend a program at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on April 8. The presentation will teach you tricks for learning bird songs and how to tell the difference between the calls of different species, as well as how to spot soundalikes. Please register in advance. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($$)

Thursday, April 9, 7pm – CULINARY ARTS: Chef and cookbook author John Verlinden will be at the Odyssey Bookshop with his new book, To Cook Is to Love: Nuevo Cuban: Lighter, Healthier Latin Recipes. Verlinden will serve delicious, healthy Latin food at this event, which would be great for older students interested in cooking. Call the Odyssey for more information and to reserve a seat. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street. South Hadley, MA.

Thursday, April 9, 7pm-8:30pm – RACISM/FILM STUDIES: The Jones Library and the Coming Together Project present a screening of Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People at the library on April 9. The film explores the way Arabs are portrayed in film, the history of these stereotypes, and why criticism of this portrayal is important today. Learn how the persistence of these images has led to prejudiced attitudes towards Arabs and Arab culture, both socially and politically. A discussion will follow the screening. This event would be best for older students interested in film studies and those interested in examining the way marginalized groups are portrayed in mainstream American films. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 10, 5pm-8pm – ART WALK: Check out Northampton’s local art scene at this month’s Arts Night Out. Visit galleries, do activities, see exhibitions, and more at this monthly event. Downtown. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

LOCAL HISTORY/PHOTOGRAPHY: Discover the history of western Massachusetts’ agricultural fairs at Historic Northampton’s new exhibition, Fair People: Continuing a Tradition, on display April 10 through May 3. Local photographer Stan Sherer’s photographs of the Three County Fair illustrate the history of local agricultural fairs – how they’ve changed over time, who attends them, what the attractions are, and how agriculture impacted life in the past vs. how it impacts life today. Sherer asked, “who are the people who participate in today’s agricultural fairs?” and sought to answer this question through photography. Older students interested in local history, photography, and agriculture would enjoy this exhibition. Call Historic Northampton 413-584-6011 for more information. The museum is located at 46 Bridge Street in Northampton, MA.

Hampden County

Monday, April 6, 6pm – LOCAL HISTORY/CULTURAL STUDIES: The Wistariahurst Museum’s spring lecture series, “Immigrant Communities in the Pioneer Valley,” continues on April 6 with a talk by Joe Carvallo III, who will present, “The Earliest Origins of African-American Families of Western Massachusetts: 1650-1865.” 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. ($)

Tuesday, April 7, 6:30pm-8pm – PERMACULTURE: Lisa Depiano will present a free permaculture workshop at River Valley Market on April 7. Attend this workshop and learn the basics of permaculture, including definitions, history, and principles. Older students interested in sustainability and in growing their own food would enjoy this talk. Pre-registration is required. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 9, 12:15pm – HISTORY/GARDENING: This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “Great Gardens of the Northeast,” presented by landscape designer Adriana O’Sullivan. Learn about some of the region’s most beautiful gardens at this talk. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

AUTHOR TALK: Author Sam Kean will speak at Bay Path University on Thursday April 9 at 7pm as part of their free Kaleidoscope Series. Kean is the author of several best selling science books, including The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist’s Thumb, and he will talk about how and why he writes about science. Kean will focus on The Violinist’s Thumb, which is all about DNA and how it influences us on both the individual and species scale. Older students interested in science writing and genetics would enjoy this talk, which covers everything from Kean’s personal experiences writing about science to what a person’s genetic code says about them. The talk takes place in Breck Suite in Wright Hall on the Bay Path campus (Longmeadow, MA). Call 413-565-1066 to pre-register.

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