Monday, July 15, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: Flying Cloud science grants; Teen short story contest; workshop at Pleasant Valley; Marin Marais at Aston Magna

Over the past 15 years, Flying Cloud Institute has envisioned an equal playing field for girls and women in the STEM fields in Berkshire County.

Flying Cloud Institute receives two grants for girls’ science programs

New Marlborough  Flying Cloud Institute was awarded a one-year renewable grant by the Berkshire United Way’s youth development initiative in order to continue the Young Women in Science program which offers GIRLS Science Clubs in four Berkshire school districts. Flying Cloud Institute also received an exciting three-year grant from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts to collaborate with the organization Rites of Passage and Empowerment (ROPE) to enhance the programming in Pittsfield by better addressing the unique barriers to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields for young women of color in the Pittsfield area.

Over the past 15 years, Flying Cloud Institute has envisioned an equal playing field for girls and women in the STEM fields in Berkshire County. Through its Young Women in Science program, the Institute has focused on girls in rural Berkshire County and urban Pittsfield who may have an inclination toward STEM but limited encouragement, limited access to quality hands-on STEM experiences, and a lack of female STEM role models. More than 200 girls in grades 2-6 and 50 girls in grades 8-12 participate in this after-school program each year.

Flying Cloud Institute’s goal is to help children from ages 5 through 18 discover and develop interest and skill in STEM through unique and exciting programs that use visual and performing arts, environmental studies, and close connections with STEM professionals to inspire and stimulate creative thinking and problem-solving.


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Spencertown Academy Arts Center teen short story contest

Spencertown, N.Y. — The submission deadline for Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s first-ever Teen Short Story Contest is June 30. The contest is open to Berkshire and Columbia County’s teenaged writers in grades 9 through 12. Contest judges are publishing professionals and authors, including the well-known Young Adult writer Lauren Oliver, author of Delirium and Panic. The top three winners will receive cash prizes ($100, $75, and $50 respectively) and be invited to read their stories at the Academy’s annual Festival of Books over Labor Day weekend.

Stories can be about any subject matter, with a maximum length of 4,000 words. Stories must be formatted in 12-point type, be double spaced, and have 1″ margins on standard 8 ½” by 11″ paper. Entries must not have previously been accepted for publication nor have won a prize. Send submissions, as well as any questions regarding the story contest, to the Academy at


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“Bedrock to Birds in the Berkshires” at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
Fern class_2014_photo by Paul Koenig
A class at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife sanctuary. Photo by Paul Koenig

Lenox — Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary will hold a day-long, field-based workshop for adults on Saturday, June 27 in the Sanctuary’s classroom and on its trails. The workshop is the kick-off of an increased emphasis on diverse adult learning opportunities at the Berkshire Sanctuaries. Entitled “Bedrock to Birds in the Berkshires,” it will explore connections between our local geological features, and habitat characteristics for plants and wildlife. Participants will learn to utilize key tools, models, and resources, taking them out on the trail to decode the natural surroundings, key-out plant species, and identify natural communities.

The cost for the workshop is $60 for members and $80 for non-members and includes instructional materials. For more information, contact Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, 472 West Mountain Road, Lenox: email:, call 413-637-0320, or register online.


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The music of Marin Marais: Baroque dance, music at Aston Magna Music Festival

Great Barrington – Aston Magna Music Festival continues its summer season June 25-27 with a weekend of music and Baroque dance, anchored by the world of Marin Marais. Aston Magna performs Thursday through Saturday on stages at Brandeis University, Bard College, and the Daniel Arts Center on the Bard College at Simon’s Rock campus in Great Barrington.

Catherin Liddell
Catherine Liddell.

“Le Monde de Marin Marais: La Musique et La Danse” features Marais’ Sarabande à l’espagnole, Les Voix Humaines and Sonate à la Maresienne. In “Dressing and Dancing at the Court of Louis XIV,” the ensemble — with narrator and two dancers — performs La Toilette, Fêtes et Bals, Dancing Lessons, Rituals and Intricacies; and the music of Lully: Dance Interludes, Courantes, Sarabande and Louis de Lacoste’s Gigue.

Featured artists include Laura Jeppesen, viola da gamba; Catherine Liddell, theorbo; Daniel Stepner, baroque violin; Carly Fox Horton and Olsi Gjeci, dancers; Patricia Forelle, narrator.

A pre-concert talk will be delivered by Artistic Director Daniel Stepner and Patricia Forelle, a costume designer, lecturer, and two-time nominee for the New York City Dance Awards for Outstanding Visual Design.

Tickets are available online.



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