Learning Ahead: March 14th-18th, 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

Wednesday, March 16, 7pm
As part of the Williams College film series “In / dependence: Capturing Women in (New) French Cinema,” you can attend a free screening of the 2011 French film L’Apollonide / House of Pleasures . All films screened in this series will be in French with English subtitles. Each film explores traditional gender roles in France, with portraits of women who preserve and subvert these roles. If you are able to attend multiple screenings in February and March, you will be able to compare a broad spectrum of French female experiences, from the eighteenth century to present day. Paresky Auditorium. Williams College. 880 Main Street, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 17, 3pm-5pm
How would you define the word “drawing?” You might feel inclined to say that a drawing is a form of artwork typically done with pen or pencil on paper. Does a drawing, by definition, have to be one dimensional? Since wire is relatively thin and often one solid color, wire sculptures can be made to look like drawings, particularly when placed in front of a plain backdrop. Come to The Clark Art Institute’s Makerspace to make your own wire sculpture! This event is recommended for 4th through 8th graders. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Free with the price of museum admission. 413-458-2303. 225 South St, Williamstown, MA. ($. Children under 18 FREE)

Having trouble envisioning a wire sculpture drawing? Take a look at these wire sculpture portraits by artist Ralf Westerhof!

Franklin County

Monday, March 14, 6pm
Our memories are everything: they are how we learn, how we function, and how we build an identity. After a traumatic brain injury at the age of 22, Su Meck lost all of her memories. Her body recovered quickly but she did not regain her memories. She had to rebuild a life and a relationship with all of her loved ones including two young children. People tend to be terrified and fascinated by the notion of amnesia, and much of what people know about the condition comes from dubious sources like highly fictionalized accounts in movies. If you want to know what it is really like to suffer from amnesia and build your path to recovery, read Su Meck’s book I Forgot To Remember, and come to her book talk at the Sunderland Public Library. Her surprisingly uplifting memoir will not only teach you about a medical condition; it will strongly affect how your view your own life and memories. 413-665-2642. 20 School St, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, March 15, 3pm and 6pm
Screening the 2015 film Trumbo (rated R) can spark an interest in the long, complex history of censorship in the United States and elsewhere. Dalton Trumbo was an accomplished screenwriter. He wrote highly successful films such as Roman Holiday and Spartacus. Trumbo was blacklisted from Hollywood after he refused to testify in an investigation of Communist influences on the industry. He continued to write secretly and when Roman Holiday won the Academy Award, credit went to a front writer who had no part in the creative process. Come to a screening of Trumbo at 3pm or 6pm at the Whately Public Library. Viewers interested in learning may want to read Dalton Trumboby Bruce Cook. Viewers can also make connections between the historical events of the film and the subtler issues of censorship that continue to exist in this country today. 193 Chestnut Plain Rd. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, March 15, 6pm
You don’t need a publisher to get your stories, poems, or drawings out to be the public. If you want to share your work with your community, you can always make a zine! Zines are small magazines, made inexpensively and often distributed for free. Since most zines don’t usually travel far in their distribution, zine collections can give you an idea about the culture of your community and connect you with local writers. Zine making is also a great way to collaborate with other artists. Come to the Sunderland Public Library and learn how to make your own zine. (If you want to check out a zine collection, visit the Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton. The Flywheel houses a library of non-circulating zines, some of which date back more than a decade.) Ages 11 to 18. Please register by calling 413-665 2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, March 15, 6pm-8pm
Writing books for children allows you to return to your own childhood, perhaps writing the kind of story you wish you could have read at a young age. Writing for children also poses its own unique challenges which do not affect writers of other genres. Children’s book authors have to constantly ask themselves what a child would want to happen and how that child would comprehend the story. You can meet up with other children’s book writers at the Greenfield Public Library to discuss tips and share your writing. This group will be facilitated by Nell Wright. 413-772-1544. 402 Main St. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 16, 4pm-6pm
Learn how to carve a river rock at the Connecticut River Watershed Council. Carve an image, your name, or a special word. Do you like to canoe? How far have you traveled on a river? After rock carving we will look at the journal and sketchbook from the 1875 Source to Sea canoe journey of T.H. Pattison. At 5:30 we will discuss current issues regarding the Connecticut River. Learn about the past and present of river culture and stay up to date on the relicensing effort of five hydroelectric facilities on the Connecticut River. All ages welcome. 413-772-2020. 15 Bank Row. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Ever wonder how rivers become curvy?

Wednesday, March 16, 7pm-8:30pm
The bald eagle species is a restoration success story. Bald eagles are beginning to breed in healthy amounts. Barton Cove at Northfield Mountain is one example of a local area with eagle nests. Come to the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environment Center to hear author, photographer, and nature enthusiast William Dean talk about the eagles of Barton Cove. His presentation will include photos, videos, and stories as well as information about regional nests. 99 Millers Falls Road. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, March 18, 6:30pm-8:30pm
You’re never too old for arts and crafts! Local artist Linda Balk will teach participants at the Northfield Public Library how to needle felt. You’ll be able to bring home a very cute owl to keep or to gift. This is a beginner course in felting techniques using fibers from Balky Farm Sheep. Needle crafts can be a highly relaxing yet social activity, keeping our brains and our hands active. This class is open to 15 participants. Please call to register. 413-498-2455. 115 Main St. Northfield, MA. ($)

Hampshire County

Tuesday, March 15, 5pm
Amherst, Massachusetts is a vibrant town with a rich history and a growing population. The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission works to maintain and improve transportation, housing, economic development, historic preservation, pollution control, and resource management in Amherst as well as all Pioneer Valley towns and cities. The PVPC is currently working on an Amherst Hazard Mitigation Plan in order to identify, prevent, minimize and manage natural risks affecting the town. Amherst residents, businesses, and surrounding community residents are welcome and encouraged to participate in this civic conversation and impact change. Come learn about, witness, or actively participate in community engagement on a small town level. 413-781-6045. Town Meeting Room. 4 Boltwood Avenue. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 17, 3:30pm
Neil Gaiman, author of Neverwhere, Stardust, and Coraline, has written books for adults and children, with and without illustrations. For that reason, reading his books is a great way to connect with your child over a love of the same author. If your child develops a fondness for Gaiman’s fantasy novels now, he or she will have no shortage of books to explore while developing into a more advanced reader. This week at the Forbes Library, children who feel comfortable with chapter books and have read Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants are invited to discuss the text with other kids. This nature fantasy tells the tale of twelve-year-old Odd and his journey to save his city. Copies of the book are available through the library. 413-587-1010. 20 West St. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 17, 7pm-7pm
What makes “Old Farms” so special? Archaeologists have long searched for 17th century remains of prominent New England settlements, but nothing more than a few scattered house sites have ever been found. Construction erased the older remains. The term “Old Farms” refers to the ideal example archaeologists have long been seeking: preserved remains of a complete nucleated 17th century settlement. Hatfield’s buried Colonial village is the only archaeological site of its kind in southern New England. Join UMass archaeologist Randy Daum at the Hatfield Congregational Church as he explores this archaeological treasure. For more information, check out the Hatfield Historical Society website. 41 Main St,Hatfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, March 18, 3:30-4:30pm
Celebrate Women’s History Month at the Forbes Library as we discuss the impact of Amelia Earhart! In addition to being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Earhart left her mark on history by writing two books about her experience. Her journal entries have also been collected and published. As we learn about her legacy we will make paper airplanes and other crafts. This event can launch a discussion with kids about historic and modern figures who have defied gender roles. The event can also open up conversations about careers. Meet in the community room. 413-587-1010. 20 West St. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Fascinated by flying machines? Meet Luigi Prina and learn about the beautiful “ships that sail through the clouds” which he creates.

Hampden County

Monday, March 14, 4pm-6pm
Join us at the Holyoke Public Library for the second of four meetings in March on genealogy research. Dave Robison of Old Bones Genealogy has already covered the basics of using Ancestry Library Edition. In this meeting he will discuss common research pitfalls, and the use of census and immigration records. He will also show participants how to navigate archives and special collections. Please bring a laptop or tablet with you to follow along. There will be plenty of time for questions. 413-420-8101. 250 Chestnut St, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, March 15, 6pm
The Sixteen Acres Branch Library is holding a workshop for teachers, librarians, and parents of homeschoolers, where they will learn how to make a journal out of recycled materials. This craft is great for an art or writing class and can be incorporated into wider lessons about upcycling, drawing or journal keeping. Meet other educators and parents and learn a new lesson plan. 1187 Parker St. Springfield. (FREE)

Ready for something truly eye-opening? Watch this short video about the Recycled Orchestra, a youth orchestra in Paraguay whose instruments are made of upcycled materials from the local landfill.

Wednesday, March 16, 12pm-1pm
Art is a subjective discipline. How you feel about a work of art is your own opinion, and what you think the artist meant to capture in his or her work may be impossible to know for certain. For that reason it can be fun and educational to discuss your theories and opinions with other art enthusiasts. Bring a lunch to the
Monson Free Library
and meet up for an art discussion group. Themes will rotate according to the group’s interests. This month we will be exploring the work of Ellsworth Kelly. 2 High St. Monson, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 16, 5:30pm-7:30pm
There has never been a better time to learn computer programming. Free websites like Scratch use simple language to show you the logic of coding. At the same time, you can use the site to learn actual programming symbols and apply those symbols to your own projects. Whether you are new to Scratch or you’ve used it extensively, you’re invited to join fellow programmers at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center to make your own virtual pet. If you’re already experienced in Scratch, you can learn more sophisticated behaviors for your pet. Ages 7 and up. 100 Bigelow St. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 16, 6:30pm-8pm
In their migration, snowy owls are attracted to coastal dunes and prairies. Wildlife photographer Peter Christoph followed the snowy owl across beaches in Salisbury, Hampton, and Plum Island for fourteen days during the winter. He will be presenting his photographs at the Westfield Athenaeum. Come with questions. Why did he decide to follow the snowy owl? How did he know where to look and how easy was it to find and photograph snowy owls? Lang Auditorium. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm St. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 17, 3pm-4pm
Teenage anime fans can gather at the Westfield Athenaeum to discuss their favorite and least favorite authors, stories, and iterations. Are you a fan of Attack on Titan? What do you like better, the book or the television series? Anime can be a gateway not only to reading but to making and appreciating art, and learning about Japanese culture. There are also similarities between the plot lines and art aesthetics of anime, manga, and video games. Teens and kids interested in making their own manga might also be interested in learning to code, or make artwork for a video game, thus opening up the possibility of collaborating with friends. Ages 13 through 18. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm St. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, March 18, 3:30-4:30pm
Can you really shatter a glass with your voice? It’s highly unlikely, but possible, and the reason why it’s possible has to do with the physics of sound. A wine glass, for example, has a resonant frequency. That frequency corresponds with the pitch you hear if you clink the glass. If a singer were able to hit that exact frequency with enough force, and if the glass already had some imperfections such as a tiny crack, the glass could break. Kids ages nine and up are invited to the West Springfield Public Library to ask their own physics questions (if they have them) and learn all about the science of sound. 413-736-4561 x4. 200 Park Street. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Watch as scientists at MIT shatter a glass using sound waves:

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