Learning Ahead: January 25th-31st, 2016

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.

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Berkshire County

Wednesday, January 27, 6:30pm — Explore teas of the world with Michael Harney, vice president of Harney & Sons Master Tea Blenders, at the Stockbridge Library Association‘s Speaker Series at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge. Started in the basement of the historic White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT, in 1983, Harney & Sons has grown to employ 155 people in its Millerton, NY, headquarters. Michael Harney has been the master tea buyer and blender for the company for more than 25 years, meeting with tea producers in all of the world’s major tea countries. Michael will show you tasting techniques and explain how where and how tea is grown and processed can affect its taste and appearance. 413-298-5501. Jonathan Edwards Room, 4 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

Thursday, January 28, 5pm-8pm — During the month of January, Williams College students in the Mapping the Museum class have developed projects that engage the Williams College Museum of Art and its collections and staff in unorthodox ways. Come enjoy an evening of “petite interventions” curated by class leader and socially engaged artist Lexa Walsh. 413-597-2429. 15 Lawrence Hall Drive, Suite 2, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, January 30, 6pm — The Four Nations Ensemble performs Baroque music inspired by works in the Clark Art Institute‘s collections. The group will play music with a theme of “goddess and laundress,” to complement paintings by Francois Boucher and Hubert Robert. A French country supper will follow at 7:30pm, at an additional cost. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA. ($)

Franklin County

Monday, January 25, 6pm-7pm — The New England Literacy Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT) and the Sunderland Public Library have partnered to create a new book club focusing on media literacy and gender-based violence, facilitated by Charity O’Connor, Domestic Violence Intervention Project Advocate for NELCWIT. The book club will meet the last Monday of every month and will discuss how popular media, such as books, portray sexual/domestic violence and how those portrayals impact our culture. At this first meeting, the club will be discussing Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Copies are available at the library. Read more about the club here. Best suited for mature teens and adults. Pre-registration requested. 413-665 2642. Lane Reading Room, 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Friday, January 29, 6:30pm- 9pm — Much of cooking relies on specific chemical reactions that take place when certain types of food are combined. Microbiologist Paul Moe will share how fermentation affects cooking and demonstrate making sourdough bread at the Erving Senior/Community Center. Sign up to bring a potluck dish to share with your neighbors as part of a meal. Donations to cover the cost of paper goods will be requested. Sponsored by the Friends of the Erving Public Library. 413-423-3348. 1 Care Drive, Erving, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, January 30, 11am — Most people are familiar with the Dream Team, the American Olympic basketball team that won the gold in 1992. The Other Dream Team (Not Rated, 2012) looks at the bronze medal winners that year, the Lithuanians. Four years previous, Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union, and Lithuanian players helped the USSR beat the the US for the gold. This documentary tells the story of the 1992 Lithuanian team, who faced the Russians after years of oppression, following the breakup of the Soviet Union. At the Whately Library. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, January 30, 1pm-2pm — Before mechanical refrigeration, January and February were the months of the ice harvest. Using specially designed tools, harvesters cut blocks of ice from lakes and ponds and stored them for use in “iceboxes,” the forebears of the modern refrigerator. Join the Great Falls Discovery Center for a slide show on ice harvesting, which took place where Unity Park is today, on Green Pond near Lake Pleasant, and elsewhere in the Connecticut River Watershed. 413-863-3221. Great Hall, 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, January 31, 2pm — Today, quilting is seen mainly as a hobby, but in the past, it was often a sociopolitical activity. Quilts, and the women who made them, played an important role in many of the 19th century’s great movements and events, including industrialization, the abolition of slavery, the Civil War, westward expansion, temperance, and suffrage. Hearts and Hands — The Influence of Women & Quilts on American Society, a documentary showing pages of photographs from the book of the same name, tells the story of the powerful place of quilting in American history. At A Notion to Quilt. Followed by discussion. Reservations requested. 413-625-9644. 623 Mohawk Trail, Shelburne, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Monday, January 25, 6pm — What is a photon, and how can it act “telepathic”? Does nature allow faster-than-light communication? Bright questions like these will be answered by Professor William Wootters, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy at Williams College, at a SciTech Cafe event at Union Station. Wootters will discuss “Einstein’s Spooky Action at a Distance.” SciTech Cafe events are open to all those with curious minds regardless of age and background. Events, prizes and snack are free, but donations are appreciated. 125 Pleasant Street, #A Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, January 26, 6:30pm-8pm — This time of year, everyone’s immune system could use a little boost. Find out how to stay healthy naturally at Essential Herbs and Spices for Winter Wellness, a workshop presented by holistic health coach and community herbalist Hannah Jacobson-Hardy, of Sweet Birch Herbals. Learn to make tasty teas and syrups that support the immune system, fight inflammation in the body, and deter unwelcome bacteria. Includes handouts, taste tests, and recipes. At the River Valley Co-op. Registration required. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, January 27, 5pm-6:15pm — The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is planning a Youth Summit on Hunger, and they need your help. Bring your ideas and questions to a planning meeting. A commitment to continue helping or attend the summit is not necessary. Youth and kids welcome! Food provided. Please RSVP. 413-247-9738, ext 135. 97 North Hatfield Road, Hatfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, January 28, 4pm — According to the American Lung Association, one-third of Massachusetts residents live in counties with failing or near-failing air-quality scores. Hampshire County rates an “F” for ozone levels. The UMass Center for Research on Families presents C. Arden Pope, III, Ph.D., Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University, discussing “Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health: Science, Public Policy, and Controversy.” Dr. Pope is one of the world’s experts in environmental science, and his work has helped establish a connection between air pollution and health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. 413-545-4631. Room 804-808, UMass Campus Center, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Monday, January 25, 3:30pm-5pm — Drop in at the Springfield City Library‘s Teen MakerLab to try out a new project, including technology, arts and crafts, sewing, and more. Show off your “maker” skills and learn from other teens and tweens. 413-263-6828, ext. 425. 220 State Street, Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, January 27, 12:30pm-2pm — Cook up more than good food at Storrs Library‘s Cookbook Club — connect with fellow foodies, collect cooking tips, and enjoy a delicious meal! This month’s book selection is Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead. Stop by the library to pick up a copy; choose a recipe; and make it to bring and share with friends. Registration required. 413-565-4181, ext. 1620. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, January 27, 5:30pm-7:30pm — Calling all experienced Scratch game developers! Help Holyoke Codes create a game engine that will allow others to build better Scratch projects more easily. During “Advanced Scratch: Build a Game Engine,” you can contribute your best practices in developing custom block functions for jumping, side-motion, wall-jumping, wall sensors, velocity, gravity, shooting projectiles, displaying messages, scorekeeping, and more. The end-product will be a template for creating awesome Scratch games. This is the second of a two-part workshop. The first session meets Sunday, 1/17, from 1pm-3pm. You do not have to attend both sessions. For ages 10 and up. Registration requested. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, January 28, 12:15pm — Do you like local history? What about adventure stories? If so, join Robert H. Romer, professor emeritus, Amherst College, as he brings to life the story of Chicopee’s John Gibson, an Irish immigrant who set out for the Klondike to seek his fortune. This is part of the Springfield Museums’ à la Carte lecture series. Visitors are invited to bring a bag lunch (cookies and coffee are provided). 413-263-6800, ext. 488. D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, 21 Edwards St, Springfield, MA. ($ Members and Non-members) .

Friday, January 29, 7pm — What motivates a man to leave his home and family to fight in a war? Find out through the writings of Pvt. F.H. Smith of Connecticut, who served in the Union Army. In “Dear Sarah…Letters Home during the Civil War,” historian Carolyn Ivanoff shares Smith’s descriptions of life in the Army and his feelings about the war and the Emancipation Proclamation. Presented by Storrowton Village in the historic Meetinghouse as its annual First Person Presentation. Contains content that may not be suitable for young audiences. 413-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, MA. (<$)

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