25 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Picasso to Elephants. Intelligent Design to Honeybee Evolution.

“Bees and flowers have an amazingly close relationship. Flowers need bees in order to reproduce, and bees need flowers to feed their colonies. Take away one, and the other would disappear too. It begs the question: When it comes to evolution, which came first, the bees or the flowers?” Find out in this video by It’s Okay to Be Smart.

Physics to Chemistry. Picasso to Elephants. Intelligent Design to Honeybee Evolution. 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: Street festivals encourage people to check out new towns, or new areas of their own towns that they haven’t seen before. Easthampton’s annual Cultural Chaos Saturday, June 10, 12pm-5pm will feature music, puppetry, a farmers’ market, vendors, a petting zoo, and much more. Visit the Cultural Chaos website for a full list of performances and activities for this day-long, family-friendly event! Meet other art lovers and support local art. Various locations. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

PhilosophyFood StudiesSTEMChemistryIchthyologySkillsharingUpcyclingHistoryOutdoor AdventuresArt StudiesZoologyPollinatorsBeavers YogaService-Based LearningSocial Justice

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“Last week we introduced Thomas Aquinas’s four cosmological arguments for the existence of god; today we introduce his fifth argument: the teleological argument, and the ensuing dialogue it initiated.” – CrashCourse

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Food Studies

Saturday, June 10, 9am
The Lenox Rhubarb Festival held outside of the Lenox Library is an example of a unique and community-building use of public space. This festival sheds a new light on the ingredient, rhubarb, as you see it used in an array of sweet and savory dishes! The event will kick off with a pancake breakfast. Learn by example by purchasing a rhubarb recipe booklet and fresh local rhubarb. There will also be rhubarb plants available. Local experts will share advice for those who want to learn how to grow the plant on their own. 413-637-0197. 18 Main Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, June 11, 12pm
Experience Polish culture in one of the most enjoyable ways possible…by eating an authentic Polish meal! St. Valentine’s Church invites you to enjoy golabki, pierogies, kielbasa, and more among other community members. There will also be a performance by the Polish Dance Group. 127 King Street. Northampton, MA. ($)

Sunday, June 11, 5pm
If you’ve seen one Hilltown, you’ve seen one Hilltown! Each town in the foothills of the Berkshires has it’s own unique culture and delightful cast of neighbors! Come out and meet other Hilltown community members at the Hilltown Bash in Cummington! Bring a labeled dish to share for the potluck community picnic, bring friends, and enjoy the festivities, rain or shine. In the covered pavilion, The Picky Bastards will play their folk rock, Americana tunes, and New England bluegrass. All ages are welcome. Pettingill Park Pavilion. Main Street. Cummington, MA. (DONATION)

Sunday, June 11, 7pm
There are many different types of farms, growing different crops or raising animals. Farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture (farm shares) are growing trends in many communities, but dairy farmers are often left out of these markets. Over the past 50 years, New England has lost over 10,000 conventional dairy farms. Family operated farms have been impacted by drought as well as low priced milk and other dairy products from corporate farms. The documentary Forgotten Farms explores cultural divides in New England’s farm and food communities with a focus on conventional dairy farmers who have been affected by these trends. You can see the film at Memorial Hall followed by a Q and A session with the filmmakers! Screening this film and asking questions can teach you about local history, as well as national economic trends, from a personal perspective. 51 Bridge Street. Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, June 13, 6:30pm-8pm
The building and using of earthen ovens is an ancient art dating back 3,400 years in Egypt. It’s also an easy and inexpensive way to prepare exciting meals while enjoying the company of your family, friends, and nature. You can learn about backyard ovens in a workshop led by Ashley Schenk of Broadfork Permaculture. The workshop will cover oven construction, use, and modern adaptations for a variety of designs. You will learn how to create the perfect gathering space in your backyard for this summer. Learn how to cook delicious pizzas and artisan breads outside while enjoying the beautiful summer weather! River Valley Co Op. Registration is required. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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“Perpetual motion machines — devices that can do work indefinitely without any external energy source — have captured many inventors’ imaginations because they could totally transform our relationship with energy. There’s just one problem: they don’t work. Why not? Netta Schramm describes the pitfalls of perpetual motion machines” – TED-Ed

View full lesson:
Why don’t perpetual motion machines ever work? – Netta Schramm

Friday, June 16, 7pm
People often talk about “chemicals” in our food, water, or hygiene products in reference to possibly toxic or carcinogenic ingredients. Some chemicals certainly are dangerous to humans, but EVERYTHING is made up of chemicals! But what is the exact definition of a chemical, anyway? The Merriam-Webster definition of “chemical,” reads A substance obtained by a chemical process or producing a chemical effect. And chemistry is the study of how chemicals interact and react with one another. Learn more about everyday chemical reactions by reading our post, Chemistry is F9 U92 N7!. Junior scientists between the ages of five and sixteen can learn about chemistry through a fascinating range of demonstrations at the 4th Annual Chemistry Demonstration Show. For information or to RSVP contact Raina Kittilstved at rkittilstved@chem.umass.edu. University of Massachusetts Amherst Integrated Sciences Building. Room 135. 661 North Pleasant Street. Amherst MA. (FREE)

“Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, seemed too good to be true when they were first created, and before long astronomers studying Venus’ atmosphere discovered what could go wrong with this ‘miracle molecule’.” – SciShow Space

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Saturday, June 10, 9am-12pm
The art of tying flies for fly fishing combines scientific knowledge, fine motor skills, and creativity. While many flies are created for use as bait, some are created for artistic displays. Pioneer Valley Trout Unlimited (PVTU) will be providing a free introduction to the art and ecology of fly fishing, teaching participants how to create (“tie”) the lures called “flies.” You will also learn about the insects that trout and other fish eat, and the relationship between fish populations and land conservation. Registration is required via the Kestrel Land Trust website. Scarborough Brook Conservation Area. Gulf Road. Belchertown, MA. FREE)

Saturday, June 10, 9am-5pm
During the spring, anadromous fish (those who live in rivers but spawn in the ocean) make their way to their Atlantic breeding grounds – watch them make their way down the Connecticut River at the Turners Falls Fishway! The fishway offers kids a chance to see directly into the river through a special viewing window, an experience that can serve as the foundation for building an understanding of the life cycle of fish and river ecosystems. The fishway will be open Wednesday through Sundays, through June 18, 2017. For more information, contact the Northfield Mountain Recreation Center. 413-659-3714. 1 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

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Saturday, June 10, 10am-4pm
Do you have any old jeans or corduroys that don’t fit anymore? You can make them into a picnic blanket and practice your sewing skills while you do so! A workshop at Shire City Sanctuary invites students to bring eight to ten pairs of discarded jeans, as well as eight yards of two inch wide cotton twill tape, and learn how to create a picnic blanket. Holes, stains, and other blemishes can be covered with fun, decorative patchwork. Patching materials will be provided. Experience using a sewing machine is necessary. Registration is required and space is limited. To register, please send payment of a comfortable amount to Crispinaffrench@paypal.com or Crispina ffrench. 413-236-9600. 40 Melville Street. Pittsfield, MA. (DONATION)

Saturday, June 10, 1pm-4pm
If you’re not a naturally mechanical person you may have broken items in need of relatively simple repairs. You can get these repairs done with the help of volunteer “fixers” at Northampton’s first community Repair workshop! Residents are invited to bring a household item or two in need of repair, and a crew of handy fix-it volunteers will attempt to fix it free of charge! Volunteers will be available to sharpen knives, repair bicycles, fix clothing, bags, and backpacks, repair small appliances and provide simple computer assistance. Various tools and basic supplies will be available. Visit the Northampton town website for details as they evolve. Community repair is a sharing economy movement which promotes repair rather than replacement of durable household items, and gets community members working together and sharing skills. Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. 413-584-1414. 80 Locust Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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Saturday, June 10, 1pm
Witchcraft is an inextricable part of local and New England history. Born in England and later a resident of Hadley, Mary Webster was an accused witch who was hanged. Margaret Atwood dedicated her book The Handmaid’s Tale to Mary Webster in honor of this tragedy. Bridget Marshall, professor at UMass Lowell, will be giving a talk about Mary Webster at the Hadley Historical Society. 413-587-2623. 12 Middle Street. Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 10, 2pm-5pm
Are you interested in local history? What about Latino history? The Holyoke Public Library has created an archive of local Latino family history materials. Join the Library as they open the Cada Familia Tiene Una Historia (Every Family Has a Story) exhibit. Speakers include Ramón Borges-Méndez from Clark University presenting, “The Making of Puerto Rican and Latino Communities in the Northeastern U.S,” and Joel Blanco-Rivera (University of Puerto Rico) presenting “Community Archives: an introduction and community conversation.” Refreshments will be provided. Holyoke Public Library. 413-420-8101. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, June 11, 12pm-4pm
Wistariahurst, former home of prominent silk manufacturer William Skinner, now serves as a cultural and educational center. Wistariahurst helps to preserve Holyoke history through educational programs, exhibits and special events. This 1874 estate is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors are invited to engage in self-directed tours, Sundays through Tuesdays, including tours of the art gallery. Group tours (5+ people) are available additional hours by appointment. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. (DONATION)

Monday, June 12, 1pm-2:30pm
A hands-on program at Holyoke Heritage State Park invites families with children ages five and older to learn about local history through fiber arts! Though it is now known as the “Paper City,” Holyoke was once home to many textile mills. Thread and fine silks were woven in Holyoke. Families can learn more about this history while engaging in simple weaving of their own. Meet in the Visitor’s Center lobby. 413-534-1723. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

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Outdoor Adventures

Sunday, June 11, 10:30am-11:30am
Armed with a field guide and binoculars, what will your child find? Come to the Great Falls Discovery Center for an outdoor adventure. Families are invited to play Bike Path B-I-N-G-O, a game which will challenge you to find out how much you can spot outside in the natural world. Meet at the main entrance to the Center. Bring water, bug spray, sunscreen and wear sturdy shoes. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

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Art Studies

Sunday, June 11, 3pm-4pm
You may think of artists like Picasso as completely independent thinkers, creating amazing work alone. Like many artists, however, Picasso utilized the power of collaboration, working frequently with the printers who helped him create his copper plates, the foundries who cast his bronzes, and the publishers who sold his prints. Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Jay A. Clarke will explain how these collaborations helped fuel and strengthen Picasso’s artwork, in a lecture at the Clark Art Institute. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (Adults $; Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID FREE)

Sunday, June 11, 3:30pm
Outdoor sculpture works are often created in a kind of artistic conversation with the landscapes they inhabit. You can explore several outdoor artworks at the SculptureNow Opening Reception. The artist-led guided tour is a wonderful opportunity to stroll the grounds of The Mount and learn about the large-scale sculptures – what materials were used, how they were made, how they were transported, how long it took to make them, and more. The tour will meet in the Stable. A 5pm reception on the Terrace will follow. 413-551-5111. 2 Plunkett Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Monday June 12, 5pm-7pm
If you are an artist, exploring contemporary work by local artists can help you to maintain inspiration and drive. A new exhibit at the Forbes Library will feature work by Jan Ruby-Crystal and Ellen Augarten. In this exhibit, their work is “driven by light, shadows, nature and most recently, fences” and includes mixed media, three-dimensional pieces, photographic prints, and collaborations between Jan and Ellen. Come to the reception on June 12 to celebrate their work among other art lovers. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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“It’s a common saying that elephants never forget. But the more we learn about elephants, the more it appears that their impressive memory is only one aspect of an incredible intelligence that makes them some of the most social, creative, and benevolent creatures on Earth. Alex Gendler takes us into the incredible, unforgettable mind of an elephant.” – TED-Ed

 View full lesson:
Why elephants never forget – Alex Gendler

Tuesday, June 13, 10:30am-12pm
The sound of crickets, among other bugs and animals, can be relaxing for adults. But children may feel curious and even a little afraid of all those mysterious nighttime noises. Families with children ages five and older are invited to “Night Noises: WHO is Going Bump in My Night?!” to learn about nocturnal creatures which share our local habitat. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Meet at the visitor’s center in Holyoke Heritage State Park. 413-534-1723. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, June 13, 6pm
The term “pollinator” refers to any animal which helps bring about the fertilization of flowers by transferring pollen between males and females of the species. Bees are perhaps the most well-known example, but other insects such as wasps, and even mammals (rodents and lemurs for example) can pollinate plants. Increasing nesting sites such as meadow grasses can help pollinators thrive. Tom Sullivan of Welcome Pollinators will speak on how to assist pollinators to proliferate on our home landscapes, at the Greenfield Public Library. Learn what you can do to help securing our food supply and encouraging pollinators. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, June 14, 10:30am-11:30am
Besides humans…what kinds of species occupy our local habitat? Look no further than Holyoke Heritage State Park to find creatures such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Families with children ages four and older are invited to an animal exploration program combined with talks on natural history, storytelling, puppetry, games and more at the park! Meet in the Visitor’s Center lobby. 413-534-1723. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, June 14, 7:30pm-9pm
From afar, a beaver dam looks like a big pile of sticks, but a closer examination reveals careful construction and cool inner architecture! Through the creation of dams, beavers have had profound effects on plant, animal, and microbial communities across the country. Learn more about our country’s largest rodent and their relationship within our ecosystem by visiting the beaver ponds at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. This program is suitable for ages three and up. Wear long pants, long sleeves, and a hat. Bring binoculars if you have them. Registration suggested but not required. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. (<$)

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Thursday, June 15, 4:30pm
Yoga and writing are two activities which can be combined with mindfulness for relaxation and a greater understanding of your emotions. Yoga instructor Kristina Mose-Lion and writing instructor Abby Forcier will be leading a relaxation and writing workshop for youth at the Holyoke Public Library. Participants will explore their feelings through writing, learn basic yoga stretches, meditation, and write a reflection on this process. No experience is required. Registration is required. This workshop is for ages ten to fifteen. Mats, blocks, straps, and writing materials will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own. 413-420-8101. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

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Service-Based Learning

Thursday, June 15, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Volunteer work supports the community while providing individual volunteers with valuable new skills and experiences. But how do you decide where to volunteer? Where do you begin? The Springfield Library Mason Square Branch is making it easy with their Volunteer Fair. A variety of organizations will be represented, including the Dakin Humane Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Horizons for Homeless Children, Mason Square Health Task Force, Make-it Springfield, and the Springfield City Library. Learn about the work environment of an interesting organization by assisting them. 413-263-6853. 765 State Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

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Social Justice

Thursday, June 15, 6:30pm
The term “intersectionality” is used to address the fact that different aspects of identity, such as race, sexual orientation, gender, and many others, intersect. In order to work against racism, we must acknowledge that race does not exist in a vacuum, and that individuals experience racism differently due to their other intersecting identities. You can learn more about intersectionality by viewing the video series, #RaceAnd, at the Jones Library. Each short video features a different artist, activist, or thinker, sharing their experience of how race intertwines with their other identities. The film will be followed by a brief discussion and an opportunity to continue work on some local anti-racism action projects. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

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[Photo credit: (cc) Danny Perez Photography]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Belchertown, Buckland, Chicopee, Colrain, Cummington, Gill, Hadley, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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