Learning Ahead: April 20th-24th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 15 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 20, 1pm-2pm – Ornithology/Birds of Prey: Learn all about North American birds of prey at a presentation by Julie Anne Collier of Wingmasters at the Berkshire Museum. Collier will bring five birds of prey with her, and you can learn about the birds’ hunting adaptations, conservation efforts to protect them, their behavior, and more. This program is great for anyone hoping to learn more about eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons! 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Friday, April 24, 8am-10am – Ornithology/Local Species: 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 24, 3pm-4pm – Art History: William College Professor Chris Waters will present a talk on Machine Age Modernism at the Clark Art Museum on April 24. Professor Waters will provide a social and cultural historical framework for prints from the Daniel Cowin Collection. Older students interested in art history would enjoy this talk. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 24, 7pm – Nature-Based Education/Mentoring: Jon Young, founder of the Wilderness Awareness School, will present a talk titled “Deep Nature Connection” at the Lenox Community Center on April 24. Young will discuss native mentoring techniques from around the world and how these can help modern field ecology. Older students and adults who are interested in nature education can learn from this talk. 518-794-6687. 65 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION $$)

Friday, April 24, 8pm – Music Studies/Symphony: The Berkshire Symphony will perform in Williams College’s Chapin Hall on April 24. The Symphony consists of talented Williams students who were selected by a panel of judges. There will be a pre-concert talk by conductor Ronald Feldman and student soloists (7:15pm). Older students interested in music would enjoy the talk and performance. 62 Chapin Hall Drive. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Franklin County

Tuesday, April 21, 6:30pm – Zoology/Cougars: The Eastern Cougar may or may not exist – scientists say cougars don’t exist east of the Mississippi River, yet hundreds of people each year claim to see them in the eastern part of the country. Learn about the controversy surrounding these mammals and why people are so passionate about them at a free talk by nature writer Robert Tougias at the Sunderland Public Library on April 21 at 6:30pm. Tougias is the author of the book The Quest for the Eastern Cougar: Extinction or Survival? and he will speak about the history of cougars in the eastern United States, reported sightings, what scientists think and why, and whether or not cougars have survived here, or if the claims are false. Those who are interested in animal studies and local wildlife would enjoy this exciting talk by Tougias, who is an expert on the Eastern Cougar. 413-665-2642. 20 School St. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Tuesday, April 21, 11am-2pm – Herbalism: Students interested in medicinal plants, herbs, and spices can attend Herb Fest 2015 in the Student Union Ballroom on the UMass Amherst campus. The family-friendly festival will have music, activities, and free samples, as well as opportunities to learn about the history of herbal medicine and the many creative uses for herbs and spices. 280 Hicks Way. Amherst, MA.

Tuesday, April 21, 12-4pm – Sustainability/Local Food: Eating locally is a huge movement in New England and throughout the world. When you eat locally, you support your local economy, promote safer food by cutting down on contamination, increase the amount of nutrients in food, and cut down on carbon emissions for transportation while preserving farmland. And that’s just to name a few! Currently, New England sources more than ninety percent of its food from outside of the region. To help move us to having more local food from the region, Food Solutions New England is sponsoring a new 50 by 60 campaign. The goal is to have 50% of the food consumed in New England grown right here at home by 2060. The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming students have organized an event to “unveil” this campaign. The event will be an opportunity for citizens to discuss and interact with experienced farmers, students, and experts about the various elements involved in our food supply. Come to learn more about local foods, agriculture, the 50/60 campaign, and how you can show your commitment to local sustainable food! 413-218-7561. UMass Student Union’s Cape Cod Lounge. 41 Campus Center Way. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 21, 4pm – Educator Workshop: STEM educators can attend the UMass STEM Ed Institute’s Tuesday Seminar on April 21. Leslie Schneider will present, “InterLACE – A Digital Teaching Platform for Making Collaboration Visible,” which focuses on how technology-supported learning can enhance STEM education to help students develop a broad mix of 21st-century skills. Takes place in Hasbrouck 138. 666 North Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 21, 7pm – Social Studies/History: As part of the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, Amherst Cinema is screening Run Boy Run (2013; not rated). The film is based on a true story about a young Polish boy fleeing the Nazis during World War II. Older students interested in film and history would enjoy the film, which is in Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew, and German with English subtitles. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. ($)

Wednesday, April 22, 10am-2pm – Social Studies: There will be a Human Library at UMass Amherst’s W.E.B. Du Bois Library on April 22. The Human Library Project was founded in Denmark in 2011 as a way to promote human rights and create understanding between people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. People can check out human “books” in order to learn about different topics, like vegan, Army ROTC cadet, rabbi, someone living with Crohn’s disease or cerebral palsy, a mushroom farmer, and others. This is a great chance to make connections with community members from different backgrounds. 154 Hicks Way. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 23, TBA – Local History: Join the Mill River Greenway Initiative for a “Riverwalk” in Downtown Northampton. Walk from Paradise Pond to Old South Street, discovering the history of Paradise Pond, the Mill River, and Northampton. This walk would be best for older students interested in local history. Pre-registration required – email info@millrivergreenway.org to register; space is limited. Northampton, MA.

Thursday, April 23, 8pm – Music Studies/Orchestra: The UMass Amherst Symphony Orchestra will perform a concert, “Infinite Variation,” on April 23 in the Finer Arts Center Concert Hall. The orchestra will perform works by Carl Nielsen, Salvatore Macchia, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Witold Lutoslawski. This concert would be a great way to introduce students to classical music. Tickets available in advance. 413-545-2511. 151 Presidents Drive. Amherst, MA. ($)

Friday, April 24, 8pm – Dance Studies: “Alive with Dance: Part IV” is a dance performance that takes place on April 24 in Bowker Auditorium on the UMass Amherst campus. Dancers from the Five Colleges will perform pieces choreographed by UMass students. There will be a film before the concert, as well as live music. Tickets available in advance. 413-545-2511. 100 Holdsworth Way. Amherst, MA. ($)

Hampden County

Friday, April 24, 7:30pm-9pm – Music Studies/Chorus: The Westfield State University Chorus and Chamber Chorale will present their spring concert on April 24 at the Second Congregational Church. They will perform Fauré’s Requiem and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and students interested in music studies will enjoy the concert. 487 Western Avenue. Westfield, MA. (FREE/DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

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