This summer's heating up with STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math.
For several decades, summer reading programs have become synonymous with learning between the school vacation months of June through September.
This year, however, STEM will have its moments in the sun in the Berkshires through a few new, as well as continuing, science-based summer programs.
On Friday, Berkshire Museum will host "WeeMuse: Night of Science," from 5 to 7 p.m., which is free and open to the public.
Developed with Pittsfield's Transition Team, WeeMuse serves preschool children and their families and primarily emphasizes literacy skills. This event, however, will be presented in Partnership with SABIC Innovative Plastics and includes science experiments like walking on water, creating a hovercraft and making glow-in-the-dark slime, among other activities.
The museum also sponsors the Berkshire-region Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS) and the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's 2013 Summer Professional Development Institute. MITS sessions began Monday, and will continue at various locations in the county. This year's theme is "Connecting Science and Literacy: Investigate It, Read It, Write It, Talk It."
"Being able to provide this resource and support for teachers in Western Massachusetts will strengthen STEM education for students in the region by helping to create dynamic partnerships between local resources and local schools," said Sandra Ryack-Bell, MITS executive director.
"The Berkshire Museum and their partners have a wealth of materials and knowledge to share with educators and students to create activities teachers can easily take into their classrooms," she said.
The museum program comes on the heels of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Upper Housatonic River Valley Experience, which finished June 28. The annual course offers the region's educators the opportunity to experience an overview of the historical, industrial, cultural and environmental influences of the river valley region.
Over the course of the summer, various community organizations will also host STEM-based summer camps and programs.
Also new this year, Dr. Augie's Science and Art Programs is offering "Science in the Parks," a free, all-ages program in Pittsfield. Led by science educator Lisa Provencher, "kids will learn about water and the environment and why keeping our parks clean is important."
The program formally starts Wednesday, and will continue Thursday and Friday at Conte Community School, held after the summer lunch program.
New STEM developments are also happening at the state level. This spring, Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III was appointed as chairman of Gov. Deval Patrick's STEM Advisory Council. Kennedy replaces Timothy Murray, who vacated the role when he resigned from the position of lieutenant governor in June.
Kennedy took on the STEM Advisory Council role just as the White House announced a new five-year strategic federal STEM education plan.
In a written statement, Congressman Kennedy said, "Strengthening our STEM education efforts is critical to ensuring our kids have the skills they need to participate in the innovation economy that will drive this country's future."
The essentials ...
Free summer science programs and events in Berkshire County
* How Archaeologists Do Their Work: An archaeology presentation for kids with John Gerry. Wednesday, at 3 p.m., Milne Public Library, 1095 Main St., Williamstown.
* ‘WeeMuse: Night of Science,' Friday, 5 to 7 p.m., at Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield. Free and open to the public.
* Science in the Parks, presented by Dr. Augie's. Starts Wednesday at Conte Community School, 200 West Union St., Pittsfield. Meets after the summer lunch program at the school. Free and open to the public. Wear old shoes or rain boots to explore water habitats.
The schedule for July is: July 10, 11 and 12 at Conte Community School; July 13, informal gathering at Clapp Park; July 29 at Pitt Park Gather-In; July 24, 25 and 26 at Conte Community School
* Flying Cloud Institute's "SMArt Summer Programs Science Meets Art Student Show." The opening celebration for the session one show is Friday at 4 p.m. at the New Marlborough Meeting House, 154 Hartsville-New Marlborough Road.
A gallery talk of student work will be held Friday, July 19, at 3:30 p.m., featuring student work from session two of the SMArt Summer Program.
Proceeds from the sale of any artwork goes towards the SMArt Summer Programs Scholarship Fund.
Regular gallery hours for these exhibits will be: July 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
* Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation Drop-in Nature Discovery program at Sheep Hill, 671 Cold Spring Road, Williamstown. Every Saturday this summer except July 20, enjoy free nature programs for children and adults of all ages led by a naturalist from 10 a.m. to noon.
* Berkshire Athenaeum: "Earth Rhythms" is presented by Davis Bates and Roger Tincknell on July 18 at 1 p.m. This program is designed to celebrate and teach about the natural world stewardship of the environment.
On July 25 at 1 p.m., "Digging Dinosaurs: Stories of Humorous Dinosaur Adventures" presented by Diane Edgecomb. Popular dinosaur adventures complement their scientific facts with a happy dose of humor.
The library is located at 1 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield.
* Mason Library: Tonight at 6:15 p.m., come to this family event for a short talk and movie to learn about the Appalachian Trail. Make your own Gorp trail mix.
On Saturday, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., the library will offer two shows featuring animals from Forest Park Zoo. Register online at gblibraries.org.
The library is located at 231 Main St., Great Barrington.