Learning Ahead: April 27th-May 1st, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 14 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 27, 7pm – FILM STUDIES: As part of their Classic Series, Images Cinema will screen Blade Runner (1982; rated R). This Ridley Scott-directed film is a classic dystopian sci-fi flick and is a film adaptation of Phillip K Dick’s novel, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ Check out Film Educations Blade Runner study guide to help direct your film studies. The film series is a rare chance to catch these classic movies on the big screen. Best for older teens interested in film studies. 413-458-5612. 50 Spring Street. Williamstown, MA. ($)

Tuesday, April 28, 6pm-8pm – GEOGRAPHY EXPO: Take a trip around the world at the Berkshire County Homeschool Community’s annual Geo Expo at the Berkshire Athenaeum on April 28 from 6pm-8pm! Come to the free Expo to learn about different countries – where they are located, their currency, capital city, customs, favorite sport or pastime, language, population, government, flag, and more. Attendees can get a “passport” that will be stamped when you visit each country. The Geo Expo is an excellent opportunity for all ages to learn about geography from other students and to learn about different cultures all around the world. The Berkshire Athenaeum is located at 1 Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 29, 7am-9am – ORNITHOLOGY/BIRD WALK: Learn how to identify birds on a bird walk at Jackson Pond with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council and the Hoffmann Bird Club. Walk around this wetland and learn about common bird species and how to tell them apart. 413-499-0596. Route 183. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 29, 6:30pm-8pm – ZOOLOGY/BEAVERS: Explore the Beaver Ponds at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary! Sanctuary volunteer Butch Ptak will lead the expedition, and visitors will learn not only about the habits of beavers, but about the various types of wildlife who congregate at beaver ponds and the long-lasting effects that beaver ponds have upon habitats. This event is appropriate for all ages. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. ($)

Friday, May 1, 7am-9am – ORNITHOLOGY: 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. (>$)

Franklin County

Wednesday, April 29, 9:30am-4pm – LOCAL HISTORY/IMMIGRATION: The Pioneer Valley History Network‘s Annual Meeting and Gathering takes place April 29 at the Deerfield Community Center. There will be a short business meeting, followed by presentations on the theme of “Immigration and Migration to the Valley.” This meeting is a great chance to meet others who are interested in local history! Advance registration required. Deerfield, MA. ($$)

Hampshire County

Monday, April 27, 6pm – STEM/ENGINEERING: Come to Amherst Brewing Company for this month’s Sci.Tech.Café! The topic this month is “Diamonds are a Photon’s Best Friend.” Professor Marko Lončar will talk about how diamonds can be used for computers, how to store information in diamonds, and how to use light instead of current for computing. Those interested in engineering will enjoy this talk, which is designed for community members without science backgrounds. 10 University Drive. Amherst, MA.

Monday, April 27, 6pm – ENTOMOLOGY/BEES: As part of Amherst Bee Week, there will be a screening of Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? at Amherst Town Hall on April 27. Learn about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and why it is such a problem at this screening. The film features interviews with beekeepers, scientists, and philosophers who discuss why CCD is happening and what can be done to stop it. 4 Boltwood Avenue. Amherst, MA.

Tuesday, April 28, 7pm – BOTANY/WILD FLOWERS: Learn about native New England wildflowers at a talk by naturalist John Root at the Jones Library on April 28. This visual presentation will teach the distinguishing characteristics of major plant families, how to identify wildflowers, and how things like photosynthesis, pollination, and seed dispersal work. Students interested in learning more about wildflowers will enjoy this program. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, April 28, 7pm – ENTOMOLOGY/BEES: Local apiarist Robin Wayne will talk about bees at the Westhampton Public Library‘s Grown in Westhampton program on April 28. She will talk specifically about how she keeps a tally of her bees and how these records are used when determining present and future colony health. Basic beekeeping will also be discussed. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 1, ALL DAY – BIOLOGY: The Hitchcock Center for the Environment’s 16th Annual Biothon takes place May 1-3! Gather in teams and work for 24 hours to identify and count species. The goal of the Biothon is to document biodiversity, learn new species, and raise money for the Hitchcock Center. Call for more information and to register. 413-256-6006. 525 South Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

Friday, May 1, 8:30pm-10pm – HIKING: Celebrate the start of May by joining The Trustees of Reservations for a May Day Moonlight Hike at Mount Warner. Families can explore Mount Warner by moonlight on this fun family hike over moderate terrain. 413-532-1631 x10. Mount Warner Road. North Hadley, MA. ($)

Hampden County

Monday, April 27, 5:30pm-7:30pm – HISTORY/CIVIL RIGHTS: The Mason Square Branch Library presents, “Civil Rights in Springfield: Conversation and Photo Exhibition,” on April 27. This intergenerational dialogue features civil rights activists and advocates, who will discuss the Civil Rights Movement in Springfield in the 1960s, as well as civil rights issues of today. Participants are encouraged to contribute and to come with questions. This event would be great for older students. 413-263-6853. 765 State Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Monday, April 27, 6pm – LOCAL HISTORY/IMMIGRATION: The Wistariahurst Museum’s spring lecture series, “Immigrant Communities in the Pioneer Valley,” continues on April 27 with a talk by Stas Radosz, who will present, “Polish Center of Discovery and Learning Collections.” 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. ($)

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