Learning Ahead: January 18th-24th, 2016

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.

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Berkshire County

Monday, January 18, 9am-2pm

Step forward to better your community during the MLK Day of Service sponsored by The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. Participate in one of 17 projects throughout the community then enjoy a free lunch and celebration that includes inspirational remarks, music, and presentation of the 2016 Peacemaker Award. The first 200 registrants receive free passes to the North Adams Skating Rink. Read a brief biography of the civil rights leader here. 413-663-7588. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Church Street Center, 375 Church Street, North Adams MA. (FREE)

Monday, January 18, 9am-2:30pm
Make this day of remembrance count for those in your community! As part of Berkshire Community College‘s Third Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, volunteers can choose from three service projects: Cooking and serving a free community lunch at First United Methodist Church; helping Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity with an indoor renovation; or leading activities for children and teens at Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center. Breakfast and lunch provided for volunteers. Read about the meaning of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day in the words of Coretta Scott King. 413-236-2177. 55 Fenn Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Monday, January 18, 1:30pm and 7pm

Although jobs in the technology industry are growing faster than colleges can produce computer science graduates, the number of tech positions held by women has declined, from roughly one-third to one-quarter, over the last 25 years. African-Americans and Hispanics are also underrepresented in the field. Code: Debugging the Gender Gap (Not rated, 2015), showing at the Berkshire Museum, examines how cultural mindsets, stereotypes, and other factors brought about this imbalance and endeavors to inspire change. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street (Route 7), Pittsfield, MA. (<$ Members, $ Non-members)

Monday, January 18, 2pm
The Clark Art Institute presents Selma (PG-13, 2014) in the Michael Conforti Pavilion. The movie chronicles the activities of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his supporters in the months leading up to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, which led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. King consistently guided his followers in nonviolent resistance and thus achieved one of the most important successes of the civil rights movement. What parallels can be drawn between the events portrayed in the movie and those of the Black Lives Matter movement that is active today? Best suited for mature tweens and teens. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA. ($)

Thursday, January 21, 7pm-9pm

We all have ancestors — those who have gone before us and contributed to who we are today, whether we realize it or not. In “Ancestors in Our Lives: a conversation and exploration with David Sprague” at Meekins Library, you can share what you know about your ancestors and learn to connect more deeply with them. Sprague is a founding member of the Ancestral Wisdom Bridge Foundation, a group that has been learning from Malidoma Some, West African healer and elder of the Dagara tribe from Burkina Faso for over 15 years. For self-directed teens and lifelong learners. Please bring one or two pictures of a deceased relative (with no living person in the picture) and/or an object that once belonged to them along with any known stories and information about them you are willing to share. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street (Route 9), Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, January 23, 9am-12:30pm

Join Mass Audubon for a moderately strenuous hike on snowshoes at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The three-mile round-trip trek leads to a 50-mile view atop Lenox Mountain (2,126 feet). Along the way, you’ll pass through a northern hardwood forest, tracking wildlife and identifying trees by their bark. The winter woods, barren of leaves, reveal secrets that are kept in summer. Bring your own snowshoes or borrow theirs. Cross-country ski poles or trekking poles are recommended. Best suited for teens and adults. 413-637-0320. 427 West Mountain Road, Lenox, MA. (FREE Members and Lenox Residents, <$ Non-members)

Sunday, January 24, 1pm-3pm

The Berkshire Natural Resources Council is holding a Snow Shoe Clinic for all ages at Housatonic Flats. Come try a great outdoor activity and explore this in-town trail system that travels through field and forest and offers glimpses of the Housatonic River. A group will start out each hour. Bring your own snowshoes or try a pair provided by Berkshire Bike & Board. Pre-registration requested; 24-hour advance reservation required for snowshoes. Cross-country skiers also invited. 413-499-0596. Route 7, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Franklin County

Monday, January 18, 10am-1pm

Commemorate the birthday and peaceful legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Greenfield Community College. There will be activities and programs for children and families followed by lunch and presentations. Pre-registration requested. Read more about the man behind the holiday. 413-775-1819. Dining Commons, One College Drive, Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, January 19, 6:30pm

By canning your own produce (whether purchased or grown), you can save money and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your food is free of chemicals, such as BPA. Learn how to make and can jam with Sara Cooper of Chumutka Farms at the Whately Library. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, January 21, 5pm; Friday, January 22, 9am-5pm; Saturday, January 23, 9am-5pm
Attend the “Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice” Conference at Trinity Church in New York City via live-streaming at Charlemont Federated Church. On Thursday, enjoy dinner with local keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian, then watch the conference starting at 8pm to hear speaker Michele Norris. The film I’m Not Racist, Am I?, which follows 12 teens exploring racism over the course of a year, will also be shown. On Friday & Saturday, listen to speakers, including Nicholas Kristof, Anna Deavere Smith, Emilie Townes, Gary Dorrien, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, as well as participate in onsite facilitated discussion groups. The live-streamed conference continues on 1/22 and 1/23. Suggested donation covers all three days. 413-337-5525. 175 Main Street, Charlemont, MA. ($$ SUGGESTED DONATION)

Sunday, January 24, 2pm-3pm

King Philip’s War took place from 1675-1678, between Native Americans and English colonists and their Native American allies. King Philip was the nickname given to Metacom, the leader of the Native American forces, whose father had been friendly with the colonists. Peter Thomas, Retired Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Vermont, will speak on “Rethinking King Philip’s War in the Connecticut River Valley: Pushing Beyond Old Assumptions” at the Deerfield Community Center. The talk is part of Historic Deerfield‘s Winter Lecture Series: “In Harm’s Way: Conflict and Captivity Before the French and Indian War,” which examines the geopolitical history of the northeast throughout the later 17th and early 18th centuries. 413-774-5581. Old Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Monday, January 18, 2pm

Learn about civil rights issues from the 1960s to the present as the American Friends Service Committee of Western Massachusetts holds its 32nd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration at the Edwards Church. Students from Smith College will present their anti-racist work, and activists from Black Lives Matter and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee of the 1960s will hold an intergenerational conversation. Also, inspirational music by Maria Gomes. “Black Lives Matter” yard signs will be available. 413-584-8975. 297 Main Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, January 19, 6:30pm-8pm
Have you considered solar power for your home? In “Understanding Solar Incentives for Home & Business Owners,” Steve Tofel, from First Sun Solar, will tell you how to take advantage of the Low-Interest Solar Loan Program and how to receive up to $40,000 for residential solar. At the River Valley Co-op. Pre-registration required. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, January 19, 6:30pm-8:30pm
The Theory of Everything (PG-13, 2014) tells the story of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane, on whose memoir the film is based. Despite being diagnosed with ALS at age 21, Hawking pursues his life work of the study of time, with Jane’s dedicated assistance. The film can open up conversations with teens about the challenges and triumphs of real-life relationships. Eddie Redmayne received the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Hawking. Shown at the Jones Library as part of the Oscars Movie Series. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, January 19, 8pm

The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra will perform the Mary Lyon Concert that it took on tour to alumnae in Washington, DC, and Philadelphia in Abbey Memorial Chapel. The concert highlights pieces by female composers, including Paufnik’s ‘Abraham’ (featuring Mt. Holyoke professor Linda Laderach on violin), a new commission by Tawnie Olsen, and excerpts from Mary D. Watkin’s opera Dark River: the Fannie Lou Hamer Story. All ages welcome. 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, January 23, 10am

What happens when one’s car becomes not only a mode of transportation but a radical form of self-expression? Automorphosis (Not Rated, 2009) is a humorous and touching look into the minds and hearts of people who have transformed their automobiles into works of art, from a Camera Van, to a Peace Car, to a Telephone Car. See how driving a mobile masterpiece changes how the world looks at you, and how you look at the world. If you could make your vehicle into rolling artwork, what would it look like? Showing at the Amherst Cinema as part of the Family Films Series. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (<$)

Saturday, January 23, 10am-2pm

When the leaves have fallen, what are we left with to identify trees and shrubs? Bark, branching patterns, and habitat for a few things. In “Bare Trees and Naked Shrubs: An Introduction to Woody Plants in Winter,” teacher/naturalist Boot Boutwell will share secrets for figuring out who’s who in the winter landscape. The programs will start inside, continue outdoors to look at 15-20 specimens, and finish inside with a twig quiz and hot drink. At the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. For lifelong learners and self-directed teens. Registration required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road, Easthampton, MA. ($$)

Hampden County

Monday, January 18, 11am-1pm

Honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at “Reclaiming the Dream of Our Beloved Community,” presented by MLK Jr. Family Services, D.R.E.A.M. Studios, Community Music School of Springfield, and Springfield College, at the MassMutual Center. There will be song, dance, theater, and more to commemorate King’s life, work, and dream of an inclusive society. Read the full text of King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”. 413-732-8428. 1277 Main Street, Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, January 20, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Build and program a robotic wrestler at the “SumoBots” workshop at Holyoke Codes. Based on the Japanese sport of Sumo wrestling, SumoBots are small robots that attempt to push each other out of a raised ring. This is the first of a two-part workshop. The second session meets Saturday, 1/23, from 2pm-4pm. You do not have to attend both sessions. For ages 9 and up. Registration requested. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, January 23, 2pm-4pm

Refine your robotic wrestler and see if you can guide it to victory at the second session of the “SumoBots” workshop at Holyoke Codes. Based on the Japanese sport of Sumo wrestling, SumoBots are small robots that attempt to push each other out of a raised ring. This is the second of a two-part workshop. The first session meets Wednesday, 1/20, 5:30pm-7:30pm. You do not have to attend both sessions. For ages 9 and up. Registration requested. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

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