Learning Ahead: April 13th-17th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 17 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

Monday, April 13, 7pm – FILM STUDIES/CULTURAL STUDIES: Williams College presents the South Asian Film Series: Highlights of Indian Cinema 1955-2013. Film fans can come see key films from the past six decades at this series. On April 13, see Pather Panchali, which tells the story of a poor family in Bengal. Older students will enjoy this film series, and can learn about both the history of film and Indian culture through the screenings. Takes place in Paresky Center Auditorium. 413-597-3131. 39 Chapin Hall Drive. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 14, 7:30pm – CULINARY ARTS/FOOD HISTORY: How old do you think the oldest cookbook is? Where and when do you think cookbooks originated? If these questions interest you, attend Anne Willan’s talk at Williams College. She will present “The Cookbook Tree of Life: An Overview of the History of Cookbooks Through Four Centuries and Half a Dozen Languages,” which focuses on the evolution and development of cookbooks over time. Discover how and when they came into existence and what types of cookbooks have historically been the most common at this lecture. Willan has experience as a teacher, cookbook author, culinary historian, and food columnist, and her talk would appeal to older students who are interested in food studies, culinary arts, and food history. Call the Williams College Communications department at 413-597-4277 for more information. The talk takes place in Griffin Hall, room 7 on the Williams campus. 413-597-4277. 844 Main Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 17, 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 17, 10am – THEATER/SHAKESPEARE: Homeschool students can attend a performance of Hamlet at Shakespeare and Company on April 17. This is a great chance to see Shakespeare’s famous tragedy at an affordable price. Call for more information and tickets. 413-637-1199 x131. 70 Kemble Street. Lenox, MA. ($)

Franklin County

Wednesday, April 15, 7pm-8pm – FISH STUDIES: Sturgeon are fascinating fish that have been around for millions of years. In the Connecticut River, we have the shortnose sturgeon, which is an endangered species. You can learn about this interesting fish at a free talk by Dr. Boyd Kynard at the Great Falls Discovery Center. Dr. Kynard will discuss the history of this fish in the Connecticut River, how its population has changed over time, how it is affected by hydropower operations, how it spawns, and more. Older students interested in fish, species conservation, and hydrology would enjoy this informative talk about this fascinating fish. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 16, 4:30pm-10pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION/ART: April 16 is Third Thursday in Turners Falls! This month’s theme is “A Night of Conversation About the Arts,” and there will be arts activities, live music, art shows, and more all around Turners Falls. ArtSalon also takes place on the 16th, and artists and designers of all mediums will present their work in the Pecha Kucha format (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide). Art-lovers will have a blast at this community event. 413-230-9910. Turners Falls, MA.

Thursday, April 16, 7pm-8pm – BIRD STUDIES: Join the Great Falls Discovery Center for a program on swallows with Mara Silver. Learn about barn and cliff swallows and why their populations are declining in Massachusetts. Older students interested in birds will enjoy this presentation. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Monday, April 13, 4:30pm – GOVERNMENT: Smith College presents a lecture by Professor Dennis Yasutomo. He will present, “Proactive Pacifism: The Rise of Japan, Part Trois?” Takes place in Seelye Hall 106 on the Smith College campus. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 14, 12:30pm – MUSIC STUDIES/CLASSICAL: 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, Karen Smith-Emerson and Judith Gordon will perform vocals and piano. Takes place at Sweeney Concert Hall. 413-585-3222. 122 Green Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 15, 6:30pm-8pm – GARDENING/WELLNESS: Learn how to grow your own medicinal plants at a workshop by Jade Alicandro Mace of Milk and Honey Herbs at River Valley Market. “Growing the Home Medicine Garden” will teach about useful plants and their medicinal uses. Those who attend will sow their own seeds to take home. Pre-registration is required. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 15, 6:30pm-8pm – POETRY: The Meekins Library will have an open mic event to celebrate National Poetry Month. All are welcome to come share their poems and listen to others read theirs aloud. This is a great event for students of all ages who are interested in poetry. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 16, 3:30pm-5:30pm – EDUCATOR WORKSHOP: Chemistry instructors can attend “A Natural Approach to Chemistry” with Dr. Deborah Carlisle at Amherst Regional High School. This workshop focuses on making chemistry more accessible, relevant, and engaging for all students. Register here. 21 Matoon Street. Amherst, MA.

Thursday, April 16, 7:30pm; Friday, April 17, 7pm – THEATER/SHAKESPEARE: The Williston Northampton School presents a performance of As You Like It this April. Theater fans will like seeing this Shakespeare comedy live. Tickets available in advance. 413-529-3000. 19 Payson Avenue. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Friday, April 17, 7pm – STEM: Do you want to see some amazing chemical reactions up close? The UMass Amherst Chemistry Department presents the “Have a Blast” Chemical Demonstration Show.Students of all ages can attend this fun, free chemistry show and see some super cool chemical reactions. Students can learn how and why these reactions work through watching the demonstration and participating in hands-on chemistry activities after the show. This fun program is a great way to get kids engaged in chemistry and learning some basic chemistry concepts, which can act as a supplement to their in-school curriculum. Email rkittilstved@chem.umass.edu to RSVP. Room 135, Integrated Sciences Building, UMass campus, 661 North Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA (FREE)

Hampden County

Monday, April 13, 6pm – LOCAL HISTORY/CULTURAL STUDIES: The Wistariahurst Museum’s spring lecture series, “Immigrant Communities in the Pioneer Valley,” continues with a talk by Jane Kaufman, who will present, “Our Stories: The Jews of Western Massachusetts.” 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 14, 6pm – COLONIAL HISTORY: Join Storrowton Village for an interactive tour, Storrowton and the Civil War, that gives you a look into the past at what life was like for New Englanders during the Civil War. You can sit in on a recruitment meeting, speak with a blacksmith about the increase of manufacturing during the war, hear from women about sewing and making clothes, learn about how the war affected families, and what the impact on local industries was. This event is appropriate for older teens and adults only. Registration is required. 413-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. ($)

Thursday, April 16, 12:15pm – ART HISTORY: This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “Winslow Homer as a Maker of Modern Art in the Later 1870s,” with Marc Simpson. He will discuss Homer’s paintings of women, which were modern in theme and style and differed greatly from his other works. Best for older students. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (>$)

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