5 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Libraries to Museums. President’s Day to Black History Month.
Tracking to Photography. Braille to Pop Icons. Creative-Free Play to Collaborative Consumption. 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 seasonal highlight this week: Presidents’ Day celebrates the life and work of George Washington. It comes every year on the third Monday of February. Presidents’ Day is a chance to explore the tenets of democracy and civil freedoms. Throughout the January/February Seasons edition of Learning Ahead, the power of voice is a strong and present theme. Democracy, as FDR emphasizes in his four freedoms speech, rests on the freedom of speech, the ability to voice your thoughts and speak your mind. At the heart of the freedom of speech and expression is the freedom to use words, story, narrative, and voice to share ideas. Some of the greatest literature has been used as a vehicle to voice an ethical philosophy or to act on behalf of social justice. The shared dialogue between author and reader through the written word also depends on the freedom to read. Literature and the power of voice is a shared exchange in which ideas are spoken or written to be heard and read. ♦ Download our Jan/Feb edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts that support learning through the lens of Presidents’ Day.
1.) Community-Based Resource:
LIBRARIES & NATURE CENTERS
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL EVENTS: Libraries really shine during school vacation weeks! Our local libraries provide more than just amazing books to read at home, you can also drop by to SEE literature in translation, like a marionette performance of fairy tales and Harry Potter activities. This week, in particular, libraries are also offering up a menu of community-based educational events during your staycation. Take a comic book workshop. Learn about braille at a special storytime. Discover instruments from the orchestra. Enjoy an intergenerational family concert. Tinker together and explore with concepts of engineering. Participate in acts of kindness for the senior center. These are just a few of the activities you can select from this week at our local libraries!
INTEREST – MUSIC STUDIES: Have you ever heard of a musical petting zoo where participants get hands-on experience with different types of instruments? The Springfield Symphony Orchestra visits the Huntington Public Library on Thursday, February 21 at 2:30pm and after an introduction to their different instruments, participants get a chance to bow a violin, blow a horn. Or tap out a rhythm on a drum! Here’s your chance to try an instrument in a judgment-free zone that encourages exploration and excitement!
INTEREST – ANIMAL STUDIES: Libraries will also be highlighting an interest in animals this week! Learn about the megafauna of the African safari or learn about ornithology by taking part in a youth winter birds program. Other community-based educational resources are supporting an interest in animals this week too! Wildlife sanctuaries and nature centers have programs that explore snakes, raptors, tracking, local animal species, and native plants. Learning about animals and their behavior teaches us about ecology, zoology, and the importance of habitat conservation, all supported by engagement in any of these community-based educational programs this week!
SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING – ORNITHOLOGY/PALEONTOLOGY: “To look at the evolution of modern bird feathers, we must start a long time ago, with the dinosaurs from whence they came. We see early incarnations of feathers on dinosaur fossils, and remnants of dinosaurs in a bird’s wish bone. Carl Zimmer explores the stages of evolution and how even the reasons for feathers have evolved over millions of years.” – TED-Ed
2.) Interest-Based Learning:
INTEREST – DENDROLOGY: Discovering Trees. Trees are all around us; they shade us on our walks, they hold up birds’ nests in their branches, pop with color in the springtime, inspire our creativity and wonder. But sometimes we forget they’re there at all! This winter break, join SCA service members to rediscover the magic of trees on Thursday, February 21, 1:30-2:30pm. Give your full attention to these gentle giants, and take home some reminders of what trees mean to us. Dress for outdoor weather. Ages 5-Adults. Great Falls Discovery Center. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA.
CITIZEN SCIENCE – VERNAL POOLS: Join the Vernal Pool Plunge, a free, in-depth Vernal Pool training with naturalist Charley Eiseman. Vernal Pool recognition and protection starts close to home. Vernal pools are vulnerable due to their ephemeral nature. To protect them from unwitting removal or degradation we must have knowledgeable community members to identify and certify them. Each participant must attend all three days of training and commit to being their towns “Fairy Shrimp” Godmother/father through 2020. During this period, participants would agree to certify a minimum of two vernal pools. This training is offered by the Hilltown Land Trust and the Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee to the residents of the following Hilltowns: Ashfield, Becket, Chester, Chesterfield, Conway, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Savoy, Washington, Westhampton, Williamsburg, Windsor, and Worthington. To register, call Meredyth Babcock at 413-623-2070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3.) National Observation:
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATION RESOURCE – RADIO SHOW: Did you know that there are over 300 commercial-free hour-long episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show? The HFVS has aired weekly on 103.3FM WXOJ out of Northampton, MA since 2007 and posted weekly here on Hilltown Families as podcasts. There are many gems to be found in the archives, including shows honoring national observations, including Black History Month.
SELF-INITIATED ACTIVITY: In celebration of Black History, here are ten titles which feature stories of bravery, heroism, the pursuit of justice, and so much more… and each one beautifully illustrated: Celebrating Black History with Children’s Picture Books.
SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: “Escaping slavery; risking everything to save her family; leading a military raid; championing the cause of women’s suffrage; these are just a handful of the accomplishments of one of America’s most courageous heroes. Janell Hobson details Harriet Tubman’s many fights for freedom.”
4.) VALUE-BASED LEARNING
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL EVENTS: If being outdoors and engaging in nature-based learning is important to you, then you’ll want to know about a moonlight hike, an owl prowl, and community sledding, all taking place during February School Vacation Week! If outdoor adventures like sledding are appealing, then you’ll want to know about upcoming ice skating and an open swim opportunity this week too. There is also a seed swap to support collaborative consumption, art camp for creative-free play, and skill-sharing at a youth photography workshop.
5.) Community-Based Resource:
COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL EVENTS: Museums also take the spotlight this week with supplemental learning programs to their already amazing exhibits and interactive displays! Learn about pop icons at the Springfield Museums, aviation at NEAM, art history at the Norman Rockwell Museum, and picture book art at The Carle. Our local college museums have much to offer this week too! Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials is up at the Smith College Museum of Art, and the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College has a special event, Symmetry in Art & Science.
INTEREST – SYMMETRY: – Symmetry in Art & Science. All are invited to the Mead Art Museum for a talk on symmetry, Symmetry in Art & Science, with Amherst College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Chris Durr on Thursday, February 21 from 7-8pm. Come learn more about a chemist’s perspective on symmetry, structure, and time. Attendees will walk away with a greater understanding of how scientific principles play out visually in their galleries. Mead Art Museum. 41 Quadrangle Dr, Amherst, MA.
SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: SYMMETRY: “When you hear the word symmetry, you might think generally of triangles, butterflies, or even ballerinas. But defined scientifically, symmetry is “a transformation that leaves an object unchanged.” Huh? Colm Kelleher unpacks this abstract term and explains how animal’s distinct symmetries can tell us more about them — and ourselves.” – TED-Ed
Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Agawam, Buckland, Gill, Hadley, New Salem, Shelburne, Southampton, Tolland, and Westhampton Cultural Councils, local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
[Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield]