29 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Contemporary Art to Cemetery Studies. Biology to Theater.

Check out the beautiful view around the Oxbow marina while you witness the Oxbow Water Ski Show Team build pyramids 3-4 people high, flip through the air and other more. Come see what they can do at this fast-paced water ski show. In addition to being dazzled and entertained, integrate the excitement into learning about physics by thinking deeply about water skiing and certain concepts of physics, including Newtown’s Third Law of Motion, Reynolds number, and gravity.

Contemporary Art to Cemetery Studies. Nature Science to Theater. Food History to Rube Goldberg Machines. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week: Marches and parades can be a form of celebration, as well as a means of demonstrating for change, or both! The first ever “Interdependence Day” parade on Saturday, July 2 at 1pm will serve as a celebration of the world we all love, as well as a call to action against gas leaks and other environmental threats. The parade will come from four directions and also feature The Expandable Brass Band, puppets, and children’s theater. Everyone is invited to march in the parade and offers an opportunity to engage in creative-free play, placemaking and learning about community environmental concerns. Arrive at noon if interested in participating, and call 413-268-3588 for information on where to meet. Downtown. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Art Studies ♦ STEM ♦ Rube Goldberg Machines ♦ History ♦ Cemetery Walk ♦ Food ♦ Theater ♦ Sports ♦ Water Skiing ♦ Music Studies ♦ Percussion ♦ Placemaking ♦ Lawn ConcertsLiteracyImmigration StudiesNature ScienceHerpetologyAstronomyCollaborative Consumption

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Saturday, July 2, 1pm-5pm
Painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell is widely known as a quintessential American artist, whose work depicted aspects of everyday American life from the 1920s through the 1960s. This fourth of July weekend, come to the Norman Rockwell Museum to celebrate Independence Day with an all ages, baseball themed day at the museum. Celebrate this national holiday and beloved pastime with hands-on art making, presentations, and musical performances by a barbershop quartet! 413-298-4100. 9 MA-183. Stockbridge, MA. ($. College students with ID <$. Ages 6-18 <$. Under 5 and museum members FREE)

This short biographical video outlines Rockwell’s career, largely spent imitating small town life on canvas and in illustrations.

Friday, July 8, 4pm-8pm
This month’s Free Friday at the Smith College Museum of Art will encourage a connection to place as well as creativity. From 4pm-6pm, art making for all ages will include a chance to make your own miniature “Happy Valley!” This project will connect with art on view, including local artist Sally Curcio’s magical bubble sculptures. You are also invited to join a gallery talk at 6pm. 413-585-2760. 20 Elm Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, July 8, 5pm
En Plein Air painting draws together two interests- nature and art. Demonstrations of this type of art during July Arts Night Out in Northampton will show both the physical techniques and artistic decision making involved in painting. Watch as the landscape in front of you appears on canvas. Call 413-584-7327 for more information. Demonstrations will take place in front of First Churches at 129 Main Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, July 8, 5pm-8pm
Learn about local history through the lens of contemporary art. Mary Bliss Parsons was a 17th Century woman of Northampton who was brought to trial for witchcraft. In this art exhibition at Historic Northampton, local artist Susan Montgomery explores the life of Mary Bliss Parsons through her work. The opening reception for the exhibition will take place during Arts Night Out. Montgomery uses various and sometimes mixed media, making for a multi-faceted artistic learning experience. The exhibit includes watercolor paintings as well as a sculpture installation and linocut print. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Continue to explore Western MA through the lens of visual art! Featured this month in our post, Visual Art in Western MA: July Openings, Closings & Calls for Art for July art openings, closings & call for art at galleries, museums and public meeting places across the region, including: The Clark Museum, Schantz Galleries, Wistariahurst Museum, and Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum.


Tuesday, July 5, 10:15am-3pm
Rube Goldberg machines, named after an American inventor and cartoonist, are machines designed deliberately to make a simple task more complex. Goldberg’s cartoons depicted these humorous contraptions. Today, Rube Goldberg machine competitions are a fun way for people to learn about engineering through hands-on, creative projects. You can build your own Rube Goldberg machine, and learn about chain reactions, at the Springfield Museums. This family-oriented program is free with museum admission and will take place every Tuesday through August 9th. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($. Ages 3-17 <$. Children under two FREE)

Get inspired by the following example of a Rube Goldberg machine which opens a fortune cookie:

The chain reactions illustrated by Rube Goldberg machines can be complex and difficult to grasp when explained through language and metaphor. Rube Goldberg machines, as well as dominoes and other tools, can help people to understand physical relationships. Check out some hands on activities which can help children understand these concepts, in our post: Science & Fun of Chain Reactions.

Friday, July 8, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Do your children like science, creative free play, or sensory engagement? Science night at the Berkshire Museum will have all three! Outdoors, messy sensory activities will include bubble sculpture building and a baking soda volcano. Indoors, an egg drop experiment will take place and there will be the option of creative free play with big blue blocks. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, July 2, Sunday, July 3rd and Monday, July 4th, 10am-4pm
The Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum offers train rides at 10:00, 11:30, 1:30 and 3:00 on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer. See the Berkshires and experience a vintage 1955 Rail Diesel Car. An interest in trains can be a launching point for learning about engineering as well as history. 413-637-2210. 98 Crowley Avenue. North Adams MA. ($. Under 12 <$. Under four FREE)

How does railroad transportation connect with the industrial revolution? Learn about the technology and history of railroads and their relationship to industrialism and their contribution to the changing of society (including space and time!) in this Crash Course video:

Saturday, July 2, 4pm-5pm
Today, when people think of libraries they typically envision a free and open institution. But many libraries had their origins as private lending systems with paying members. The Stockbridge Library was once one such institution more than two hundred years ago. You can learn more about the history of the library through the lens of stonework and natural history on this cemetery walk. This is the second in a series of five cemetery walks to take place monthly between June and October 2016. For more information, call 413-298-5501. 46 Main Street. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Those interested in cemetery studies can read further to find out how Cemeteries Support Learning about Local History & New England Culture, and gain tips for self-directed as well as guided learning on this topic.

Tuesday, July 5, 10am-11am
In 1916, sisters Adeline and Augusta Van Buren were the first women to cross the continental United States, each on her own Indian Powerplus motorcycle built in Springfield Massachusetts. The Springfield Museums will host events tied to the launch of the Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle ride, a commemorative cross-country trip to honor the epic journey these sisters made 100 years ago this summer. You are invited to hear opening remarks at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History. Opening ceremony attendance is free with museum admission. Make sure you also check out the accompanying exhibit, “Crossing the Country to Cross Barriers: The Van Buren Sisters Ride into History,” on view from June 28, 2016–July 30, 2017. Springfield Museums. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($. Ages 3-17 <$. 2 and under FREE )


Saturday, July 2, Sunday, July 3, Monday July 4th, 9:30am-4:30pm
Learn about New England history in a participatory way, and gain practical skills for your own life, through open hearth cooking demonstrations at Historic Deerfield. Saturdays in July, as well as July 3rd and 4th, experts will demonstrate how to make cooling beverages and foods, such as pickles, jam, and lemonade, through techniques used in early New England. 413-774-5581. 80 Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. (Adults $. Ages 6-17 <$. 6 and under, Deerfield residents, and museum members FREE)


Friday, July 8, 7pm
Improvisational, all ages performance group, PaintBox Theater will be taking on the cartoon-turned-children’s-toy character of Raggedy Ann in this new production. Raggedy Ann will be joined by dozens of other characters and woven into many familiar and unfamiliar stories. Audience participation is likely! This opening night on July 8th will take place at the PaintBox Theater’s new home, the Williston Theater. 413-923-7159. 19 Payson Avenue. Easthampton, MA. (<$)

Friday, July 8, 8pm
Theater is a broad and collaborative art form which can incorporate acting, improvisation, choreography, music, comedy, and more. The 25th Annual Ko Festival of Performance will bring together many of these elements in innovative performances and workshops. July 8th, 9th, and 10th, performers from far and wide will come together for the Ko Kabaret. Come to one night or all three! Visit the Ko Fest website to purchase tickets and view the full schedule of workshops and performances for 2016. 413-542-3750. Holden Theater. Amherst College. Amherst, MA. ($$)

Support a love for theater with these featured July theater productions in Western MA: Handbill & Callboard: Theater Studies Through Engagement in Western MA for July. Taking in a theater production is a great way to engage in your community while supporting an interest in theater studies.


Tuesday, July 5, 11am
It’s time to sign up for summer reading programs! The Hatfield Public Library’s all ages summer reading program will also feature events to support both literacy and fitness all summer long. Come to this morning full of outdoor-relay style games and sign the whole family up for summer reading! All ages are welcome. 413-247-9097. 39 Main Street. Hatfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, July 8, 7pm-8pm
Even just balancing on two skis in the water is impressive. But the Oxbow Water Ski Show Team can do much more than that, with pyramids 3-4 people high, flips through the air and other tricks. Come see what they can do at this fast-paced water ski show. In addition to being dazzled and entertained, integrate the excitement into learning about physics by thinking deeply about water skiing and certain concepts of physics, including Newtown’s Third Law of Motion, Reynolds number, and gravity. Shows will take place from 7-8pm on Fridays in July (July 8, July 15, July 22, July 29). 413-626-1913. Oxbow Marina. 180 Island Road. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, July 2, 2:30 and 3:30pm
The taking of tea was a common and important social ritual for Americans in the 18th century. You can celebrate local customs and culture of the past and present at one of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum’s “Perfect Spot of Tea” programs. These events, featuring live music and locally sourced pastries, will be held each Saturday from July 2nd through August 27 with seatings at 2:30pm and 3:30pm on the museum’s back veranda.Tours will be given for an additional fee. The first event will feature Irish and Scottish music performed by The Pikeys. 413-584-4699 .130 River Drive, Hadley MA. ($)

Sunday, July 3, 8pm and Monday, July 4, 7pm
There are many ways to celebrate Independence Day. Parades, fireworks, and cookouts are popular celebrations. Another way to honor American history is through music. This concert at Barrington Stage Company will feature Americana and folk music played by David Lutken and the Seat of the Pants Band. With banjo, harmonica, fiddle and more, this group will have you up and moving. To purchase tickets, call 413 236-8888. 30 Union Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)

Tuesday, July 5, 6pm
The Clark Art Institute will kick off their outdoor summer concert series with Annie and the Hedonists. This band blends jazz, folk, swing, and other American genres in a celebration of the great female blues artists of the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, supporting an interest in music studies, with an emphasis on music history. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, July 7, 11am and 1pm
Percussion instruments are great for introducing people to music. Even very young children can feel the beat. Household items can be repurposed as percussive instruments. This intergenerational bucket drumming program at the Springfield Museums invites people of all ages to learn about rhythm! This program is free with museum admission. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. ($. Ages 3-17 <$. Children under two FREE)

To get inspired for this event, or for some tips on how to bucket drum on your own, watch this tutorial video:


Saturday, July 2, 1pm
Marches and parades can be a form of celebration, as well as a means of demonstrating for change, or both! The first ever “Interdependence Day” parade will serve as a celebration of the world we all love, as well as a call to action against gas leaks and other environmental threats. The parade will come from four directions and also feature The Expandable Brass Band, puppets, and children’s theater. Everyone is invited to march in the parade and offers an opportunity to engage in creative-free play, placemaking and learning about community environmental concerns. Arrive at noon if interested in participating, and call 413-268-3588 for information on where to meet. Downtown. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, July 6, 6:30pm
Music is something which people of all ages can enjoy together, whether they simply like to listen, or want to sing, dance, and participate. Singer/songwriter Bobby Sweet has been playing music since he was seven. Come hear Laura Tupper and Bobby Sweet play folk/pop harmonies in Lilac Park. In case of rain, concerts will be moved indoors to the Town Hall. Main Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, July 7, 6pm-8pm
Listening to music is a great way to destress. Seeing live music outdoors can strengthen your sense of community as you connect with other people through listening, talking, dancing, and singing. This Co Op Concert will begin with singer-songwriter Joe Graveline, followed by the jazz, blues, and vocal stylings of Lexi Weege, closing out with Devlin Miles, a songwriter who sings of love and loss. Energy Park. 50 Miles Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, July 8, 10am-11am
The first in a series of Friday Morning’s for Children performances at Stanley Park will feature music and puppets. Rick Goldin’s Teddy Bear Music and Puppet Concert gets children singing and dancing in a fun, silly, interactive show. Children are invited to bring their teddy bears. The show will be held in the Beveridge Pavilion Annex. Chairs are provided but visitors are also welcome to bring a blanket and sit on the floor in front of the stage. 413-568-9312. 400 Western Avenue. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

The events above are just a few examples of lawn concerts happening throughout Western Mass this summer. Find a lawn concert nearest you and learn about how these family-friendly, intergenerational events support placemaking, in our post: Lawn Concerts Strengthen the Social Fabric of a Community via Live Music in Green Spaces.


Saturday, July 2, 10am-5pm
Writing and telling stories can enrich our understanding of literature, the same way that exploring literature can improve our writing skills. Reading and writing are inextricably tied together. The Berkshire Athenaeum is encouraging children and young adults to foster their writing ability through a short story contest this summer. Participants in the contest have until July 18 to submit their short stories to the Berkshire Athenaeum Children’s Library. In addition to the possibility of prizes, participants are competing for the chance to have their story bound and added to the collection of the Berkshire Athenaeum. 413-499-9480. 1 Wendell Avenue. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Read more about how writing as a hobby can help people in their careers, relationships, and inner life, in our post: Writing Contest Encourages Community Story Sharing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2pm
Poet and children’s fiction writer Kwame Alexander won the Newbery Medal for children’s literature in 2015 for his verse novel, The Crossover. Kwame’s writing has brought poetry to new audiences, using the poetic form to tell stories which are relatable for many kids and teens. He will be reading from his 2016 picture book, Surf’s Up, at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.This program is free with museum admission. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. (<$)


Monday, July 4, 11am-12pm
Celebrate Independence Day by welcoming some of our newest citizens as they take their oath of allegiance and register to vote! See your country from diverse arrays of perspectives at the Center for New Americans. Families can use this event as a chance to discuss immigration on a personal and national level, as well as the benefits of obtaining citizenship. 413-587-0084. 42 Gothic Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

For further studies of modern immigration, check your local library for these titles:


Saturday, July 2, 10am-12pm
You and your children are invited to learn about reptiles by through observation and hands-on interaction. A naturalist guide will lead you through the forest and fields of Bartholomew’s Cobble in search of snakes, frogs, and salamanders. Guides will have species on hand for children to hold and admire if they so choose. For more information call the Trustees of Reservations at 413.298.3239 x 3013. 117 Cooper Hill Road. Sheffield, MA. ($)

Tuesday, July 5, 8pm and Thursday, July 7, 8pm
An interest in studying astronomy can develop from an enthusiasm for mathematical calculation, or a simple appreciation for the beauty of the night sky. Observing the stars can be an act of scientific or spiritual curiosity, or both. Once again, the Old Hopkins Observatory at Williams College is opening for the summer and offering free shows for the public. The Hopkins Observatory, built in 1836-1838 by the first professor of astronomy at Williams College, Albert Hopkins, is the oldest extant observatory in the United States. Shows will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 8 p.m.: June 28, 30; July 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28; and August 2 and 4. Reservations are recommended. Call 597-2188. 829 Main Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

This Hilltown Families Astronomy Themed Variety Show provides songs and web-based resources for learning about space, along with this Crash Course video:


Friday, July 8, 9am-5pm
Many library lovers read more books than they could reasonably afford to buy. The ability to borrow books and spread knowledge through libraries is a benefit for people of all ages. Sometimes, though, owning a book has its advantages. You may want to make notes in it, read it over and over again, or lend it out to your friends and family to read. You can buy books, as well as CDs and DVDs, while still supporting a local library at this book sale! The sale will take place on the front lawn of the Stockbridge Library on July 8th, 9th and 10th. 413-298-5501. 46 Main Street. Stockbridge, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

While book sales do involve purchases and ultimate ownership of materials, these sales are a form of collaborative consumption. Books at the sales are typically used and/or donated, and the money made from these sales supports the library, which is a lending-based institution. You can read more about how collaborative consumption has a positive impact on communities in our post: Collaborative Consumption: Learning How to be Resilient Supports Community-Based Education.

The following video focuses on collaborative consumption efforts which have occurred around London, England, but it may give you some ideas of local needs which could be met through new systems of collaborative consumption:

[Photo Credit: (cc) Mighty Stina]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Blandford, Bernardston, Chesterfield, Erving, Holyoke, Montague, Montgomery, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Warwick and Williamsburg Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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