Berkshire Region

One-Week Institute for Grades 3-8 Educators

Exploring the Berkshires: From the Top of its Mountains to the Bottom of its Ponds

Spend a week this summer investigating the amazing living laboratory of Western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains. These ancient formations offer a unique opportunity to explore the geological and biological interconnectedness of the region through inquiry-based, “hands-on, minds-on” science. The Berkshires are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world; through weathering and erosion, these ancient rocks have deposited Pleistocene-era minerals into the watersheds that have created and supported life forms found in few regions of the world.

As geologists, we’ll walk the ancient bedrock and investigate glacial striations and formations to better understand geologic time. As hydrologists, we’ll identify and model the paths water takes through and down the mountains. During our explorations we will collect samples of the minerals that have found their way into the local lakes, ponds and rivers below.  Taking on the role of biologists, we will investigate how the local flora and fauna evolved as the region aged. We’ll learn to use 21st century tools like mobile devices for collection of data in the field, and return to the classroom to analyze and interpret that data. And finally, as artists, and for our “capstone” project, we will take our field data and create a digital art project that tells a story of how scientific processes have shaped the landscape of the Berkshires.

Throughout the week, we will link all of our investigations back to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, including technology and the arts, and the revised MA Science and Technology/Engineering Standards. Engage in science and engineering practices, and identify ways to integrate what you learn into your teaching and into your classroom. Standards-aligned model curriculum units will be provided as a jumping-off point for you to develop your own lessons/units.

Partners: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), Center for Learning in Action (CLiA, Williams College), The Trustees of Reservations

Course Dates: July 10-14 (9:00 am – 4:00 pm); Half Day Introductory Session June 17;
Half Day Fall Call-back November 4

Registration Fee: $375/participant; $350/participant for team of 2 or more teachers from the same school district

PDPs and Graduate Credit: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) (3 credits, 67.5 PDPs, $150); 40 PDPs available without graduate credit.


Download a Berkshire Region Brochure

Register Online


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA)

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Center for Learning in Action

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The Trustees of Reservations

Williams College Logo

Williams College