Learning Ahead: February 8th-14th, 2016

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

This week we are featuring 25 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, February 10, 12noon and 3pm
See art in a new way as MASS MoCA presents This Page Left Intentionally Blank, a work-in-progress, performance-based audio/docent tour by New York-based Big Dance Theater. Part of a cultural partnership with Jacob’s Pillow. Performance will also take place at 12noon and 3pm on 2/12 and 2/13. Tickets must be purchased by phone. 413-662-2111, ext. 1. 1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA. ($$)

Thursday, February 11. 7:30pm; Friday, February 12. 7:30pm
10×10 New Play Festival. The Barrington Stage Company is hosting their 5th annual 10×10 New Play Festival, which will feature 10 new ten-minute plays by 10 playwrights. All of the plays are performed by a diverse ensemble of six actors. The festival brings together local playwrights and community audiences, providing not only a platform for writers to showcase their new work, but giving audiences an exciting contemporary theater experience. The production is being presented by the Barrington Stage Company and performances will be held in the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center. 413-236-8888. 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA. ($$$)

Thursday, February 11, 7:30pm
It’s 1948. As Europe emerges from world war, a small group of Jewish American fighter pilots returns to the battlefield for a new cause: The Israeli War of Independence. Have we piqued your interest? Do you like historic documentaries? The documentary Above and Beyond (Not Rated, 2015), produced by Nancy Spielberg (daughter of Stephen), tells the story of a group of Jewish-American fighter pilots who, in 1948, joined the Israeli War of Independence and created the Israeli Air Force. The “madcap historical film” is narrated by the pilots and includes combat reconstructions and first-person accounts of incidents. Showing at MASS MoCA‘s Club B10. 413-662-2111, ext. 1. 1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA. ($)

Franklin County

Monday, February 8, 11am
Knitting is a relaxing, rhythmic hobby that can promote mindfulness. Learn to knit, or pick up some new techniques at the new Whately Knitting Circle at the Whately Library. Beginners can learn to knit a simple scarf (bring two 7 or 8 inch needles and two worsted-weight yarns). Others can bring their own projects. The group will meet monthly. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, February 9, 5:30pm
Do you know the types of foods that strengthen digestive health? Ana Maria Moise, MS, CNS, LDN of the Nutrition Center will teach you that and more at “Nutrition for Healthy Immunity” at the Whately Library. She will discuss how our immunity is directly tied to the health of our gut and how certain botanicals can alleviate many symptoms of winter illness. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, February 10, 6pm-9pm
Music and Diversity II is a series of events that educate, entertain, and build community awareness of diversity through the arts. This event, at Great Falls Harvest Restaurant, begins with Call and Response: Portraits of Influential African American Blues & Jazz Musicians. At 7pm, New York City-based Folk First: Black Roots Music, comprised of Vienna Carroll on vocals and Keith Johnston on guitar, will perform early African American spirituals, work songs, and prison songs and explore their relationships with contemporary artists, including Biggie Smalls and Pharrell Williams. 413-835-1390. 50 3rd Street, Turners Falls, MA. (<$ SUGGESTED DONATION)

Friday, February 12, 7pm-9pm
Come to the Great Falls Coffeehouse at the Great Falls Discovery Center to listen to music by David Fersh. He will offer a concert version of his recent album, Songs of Peace, Protest & Spirit. Refreshments available. Museum and museum store will be open during intermission. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Friday, February 12, 6pm-10pm
Music and Diversity II is a series of events that educate, entertain, and build community awareness of diversity through the arts. At the Western Massachusetts Black History Celebration at St. James Church, enjoy soul food and music, a spoken word performance, and African drumming and dance. Snow date 2/26. 413-387-9664. 8 Church Street, Greenfield, MA. ($ SUGGESTED DONATION)

Saturday, February 13, 10am-1pm
The use of DDT as an insecticide from the late 1930s until its ban in 1972 brought the bald eagle to near extinction. Luckily, thanks to the ban on DDT and restoration efforts from conservationists, nesting and breeding has significantly increased and the population is recovering. Come to the Quabbin Reservoir to learn about the Bald Eagle Restoration Project and Quabbin history. Knowledgeable guides will help visitors look for bald eagles and ravens, as well as coyotes and other animals. The group will meet at the visitor center before carpooling to Enfield Lookout. Dress warmly and bring a lunch. Quabbin Reservoir Belchertown, MA. ($ Non-members, <$ Members)

Hampshire County

Monday, February 8, 10am-4pm
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art hosts the exhibition Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair through February 21. Known for her vibrant color palette, Mary Blair dominated art and design at The Walt Disney Company and set the artistic tone for classic animated films including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. 413-658-1105. 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA. ($)

Tuesday, February 9, 6:30pm-9pm
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (PG-13, 2014) is the conclusion to the three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Hobbit. Hero Bilbo Baggins and the Company engage in a war with an assortment of foes in an effort to keep the Lonely Mountain from falling to a deadly force. Families can compare The Hobbit with The Lord of The Rings — how are the two adventures similar and different? Due to extreme and graphic violence, not recommended for kids under 12. Part of the Oscars Movie Series at Jones Library. 413-259-3090. Woodbury Room, 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, February 10, 7pm-8pm
Seed catalogs are fun to look through, but wouldn’t it be great to plant your own seeds, from last year’s crop? Grow Food Amherst is a group of local gardeners who are learning to do just that. They’re reading Breed Your Own VegetableVarieties: The Gardener’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving and will meet in the first floor conference room at the Amherst Town Hall to discuss it. Reading the book is not required for attendance, however; come listen and learn about seed selection (Chapter 21)! 978-895-1781. 4 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, February 11, 5pm-6pm
Before the age of email and texting, people captured their thoughts and emotions with pen and paper. Teens are invited to try out Old Fashioned Letter Writing at the Jones Library, using the Special Collections exhibit Courtship by Mail as inspiration. This is an opportunity to experience the exhibit in an exclusive after-hours session. Letter-writing supplies provided. Pre-registration requested. 413-259-3091. 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, February 11, 6:30pm
Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play Major League Baseball, breaking the color barrier. 42 (PG-13, 2013) tells the story of how Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey overcame fervent opposition from all sides — management, teammates, and fans — through courage and restraint. Shown at Jones Library and co-sponsored by the Coming Together project. A facilitated discussion will follow. Appropriate for tweens and teens. Families should know the film includes many uses of the “N” word. They can discuss the meaning of courage and how it can be displayed in various ways and situations. 413-259-3090. Woodbury Room, 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, February 11, 7pm-8:30pm
Winter is the ideal time to snuggle up with a good book, but maybe you need some new titles for your reading list. Bring a nature- or land-themed book that you love to Kestrel Land Trust‘s Love the Land Book Share. Introduce the book to others, then listen as others share their favorites. Refreshments provided. RSVP appreciated. 413-549-1097. 284 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Friday, February 12 5-8pm (Opening Reception)
At the end of the 19th century, American quilt design was turned on its head by women making wildly embroidered, richly textured, shockingly asymmetrical “Crazy Quilts” from velvet, silk, and plush fabrics. Henrietta Lambie, a Northampton resident, started a crazy quilt in 1884, at the height of the American “craze.” Historic Northampton is hosting Keeping Busy, which includes the original artwork of five contemporary artists with varied approaches to textile art and a shared interest in history and women’s stories. Each artist has created new work in response to Lambie’s mourning quilt, which will also be on display in the gallery. An exhibition catalog, including statements from the curator and artists, will be available at the opening. Exhibition Dates: February 12-March 6, 2016,:WednesdaySaturday, 10am-4pm; Sunday 12-5pm. Historic Northampton, 46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA

Friday, February 12, 7pm
Caroll Spinney has given generations of kids the inimitable Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (Not Rated, 2014), brought to the Academy of Music by the Northampton Arts Council, chronicles Spinney’s journey from bullied child to beloved performer and contains priceless footage of the man and his alter-egos with Sesame Street creator Jim Henson. Following the film, Caroll Spinney, now 81, his wife Debra, and a special guest will discuss their journey and answer questions. Proceeds from the event benefit the 2016 ArtsEZ Grant Round. 413-584-9032. 274 Main Street, Northampton, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

Saturday, February 13, 10am
See award-winning and audience-favorite short films from the annual New York International Children’s Film Festival as Amherst Cinema presents KID FLIX 2, a program whose goal is to foster a more dynamic film culture for children ages 9 and up. The twelve films shown are from eight different countries and share universal truths, supporting the festival’s mission of providing thoughtful, provocative, and intelligent film for children. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (<$)

Saturday, February 13, 10:30am-12:30am
Join your fellow tinkerers for the first meeting of Maker’s Club at the Westhampton Public Library Each month, members of the maker’s club will share their building and designing skills, ranging from electronic projects to woodworking. At this first meeting, visitors will make their own light up Valentine’s Day gift. Suggested ages 10 and up but all ages welcome. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Monday, February 8, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Holyoke Codes invites teens to create games that address social issues in a positive way, creatively engage with technology, and explore issues important to them. At “We Got Game — Teen Arcade,” professional game designers will discuss how they create games and brainstorm with participants about how to turn ideas into games. Learn how to be an artist, programmer, project manager, and game tester while building projects with a Scratch Game Engine. Participants will present their games on the big screen to friends, family, and the community at an Arcade Party on Friday, 2/19. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Monday, February 8, 6:30pm
As part of the Black Her/History Month celebration at Westfield State University, Dr. Robert Brown, Professor Emeritus of History, presents “The Paytons of Westfield: Black Entrepreneurship and the Founding of Harlem.” He will discuss the life of Philip Payton Sr., an ex-slave from North Carolina who moved to Westfield and became a successful businessman. In the Owl’s Nest. 413-572-5442. 577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, February 9, 6:30pm
Fishing is a great family activity that promotes bonding, patience, and time in the outdoors. Allan Butler will share the how and where of Fishing the North Quabbin at the Storrs Library. Novice and experienced anglers alike are welcome. 413-565-4181, ext. 1620. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, February 10. 7pm; Thursday, February 11. 7:30pm; Friday, February 12. 8pm
An Inspector Calls. Set in England, An Inspector Calls follows Arthur Birling, a wealthy mill owner and local politician, and his family as they celebrate the engagement of their daughter Sheila to Gerald Croft, son of her father’s chief competitor. The mystery commences when a shadowy stranger arrives announcing himself as a police inspector and begins to interrogate the Birlings about their possible involvement in the death of a young working-class factory girl. As the result of his questioning, each person begins to believe they’ve contributed to her death in some way. But is Inspector Goole truly who he claims to be? Come witness this spellbinding mystery that examines the fascinating study of human nature and society. The performance is presented by The Majestic Theater, 131 Elm Street West Springfield, MA. ($$$)

Wednesday, February 10, 7pm-8pm
Miguel Zenón is the most celebrated altoist of his generation. His album Identities Are Changeable explores the question “What does it mean to be Puerto Rican in 21st century New York City?” and has been nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album in this year’s Grammys. He will hold a community discussion about cultural identity at the Holyoke Public Library. The evening will include a musical video presentation and talk, followed by conversation. Zenón performs at the UMass Fine Arts Center with the Identities Big Band Thursday, 2/11. 413-420-8101. 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, February 11, 7pm
As part of the Black Her/History Month celebration at Westfield State University, community leaders Nelson Roman, Holyoke City Councilman, and Pastor Charles L.A. Watterson will host an evening of LGBT short films and panel discussions. Both presenters will speak about being OUT black and Latino leaders in the local communities. In the Owl’s Nest. 413-572-5442. 577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA. (FREE)

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