Skip navigation

Nauticus Welcomes First Ever Director of Education and Community Engagement

Nate Sandel brings to Nauticus more than a decade of experience in STEM education.

Norfolk, Va. (July 21, 2022) – After a nationwide search, Nauticus is delighted to announce the hiring of Nate Sandel as the Director of Education and Community Engagement. In his new role, Sandel is responsible for conceiving, developing, and implementing a diverse portfolio of programming which includes school programs that connect with the Virginia SOL Standards. Sandel will also cultivate strategic partnerships with educational and non-profit communities and build a network of regional educators to increase Nauticus’ visibility.

Sandel brings to Nauticus more than a decade of experience in STEM education, successfully leading teams in developing and delivering active informal learning programs to engage diverse audiences, including children, young people, students, and lifelong learners.

His 18 year long, impressive career began at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, where he developed programming to bridge the gap between STEM education and history. Most significantly, Sandel is the creator of the CRMM Miniboat Program, a global, multidisciplinary STEAM learning experience for middle school classes in the Pacific Northwest and Japan where students are challenged to cooperatively design, build, launch, and track seaworthy GPS-equipped boats on a journey across the Pacific Ocean. Sandel has a bachelor’s in Community Development from Central Michigan University, is a founding member of the Northwest STEM Hub, and the winner of the 2022 Washington State Administrators Excellence in Education Award.

“Education is the heart of Nauticus’ mission, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to have Nate come on board to lead these efforts in this new position,” said Nauticus CEO and President, Stephen Kirkland. “Nate’s diverse background will bring a unique and fresh outlook to Nauticus, and, with his extensive experience, he will be a great resource for our mission to educate, engage and inspire our community.”

About Nauticus
Nauticus is a maritime discovery center located along the waterfront in downtown, Norfolk, Virginia, offering a unique form of experiential learning for all ages. Through interactive exhibits and STEM to STERN programming, Nauticus uses the museum, Battleship Wisconsin, sailing center, and Schooner Virginia to tell the story of the maritime environment, industry, and the military. For more information, visit www.nauticus.org.

YELLOWHAB Students Experience Land and Sea Learning at Nauticus

By Allie Wood

Climbing aboard the sailboat, a student put a hand over their eyes and peered into the sky. How many of his classmates would it take to reach the top of the rainbow sailboat?

The students at Pharrell William’s micro-school, YELLOWHAB, learned just that and more in an exciting day of discovery, sailing and a tour of the historic Battleship Wisconsin. Through Nauticus’ Student Access Program, over thirty students in 3rd-6th grade and their teachers enjoyed a complimentary field trip to Nauticus’ campus in early June.

To kick off their visit, students first met with Sail Nauticus instructors to test out their knot tying skills and learn what it takes to be a sailor. The students then donned their lifejackets and headed to the dock, where they experienced their first sailing lesson along the Elizabeth River.  

Back on land, students participated in the Living River Hidden World education program, chosen by their teachers. The Elizabeth River is full of marine life we can easily see, but there’s also a whole world too small to view with the naked eye. Using a variety of different technology, the students to were able to get a closer look at these hidden creatures.

Following their education program, students headed inside Nauticus, where they explored the decks of the Battleship Wisconsin and experienced what it was like to be a navy sailor.

Nauticus’ Student Access Program allows eligible Hampton Roads Title 1 schools to receive funding for an onsite field trip, outreach or virtual education program to meet the needs of their students. Made possible through generous funding by the Tidewater Children’s Foundation, studies show that, if engaged at an early age, students are more likely to pursue science in high school and college, potentially leading to careers in STEM fields.

To qualify for the Student Access Program, schools must be located in Hampton Roads, classified as a Title 1 School, and have at least fifty percent of the student body qualifying for free/reduced lunch.

Get Hooked on Fish at Shark Awareness Day!

By Allie Wood

In the corner of your eye, you catch a dark shadow dart by your boat or feel a cool, slimy sensation on your ankle as you wade in our coastal waters. What fish lie in the depths of the Chesapeake Bay? 

Did you know, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the International Shark Attack File, there are no recorded shark attacks in the Chesapeake Bay? But that doesn’t mean they aren’t present, since the Chesapeake Bay is one of its most important nursery grounds in the western Atlantic (vims.edu). Let’s examine two local shark species. 

Sandbar Shark 

According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus¸ is the most common large shark of the Virginia region. Named for the sandy flats, bays, and estuaries where it’s found, these sharks have a large first dorsal fin, large pectoral fins and a mid-dorsal ridge (aqua.org). Averaging from eight to six feet in total length, the sandbar shark’s diet primarily consists of small bottom fishes, mollusks, and crustaceans. In the summer, they’ll use our coastal waters as a feeding ground. Due to shark finning and bycatch, the sandbar’s population is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.   

Smooth Dogfish 

Getting its name from swimming in packs, the smooth dogfish, Mustelus canis, can often be found seasonally in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Around five feet in length, the shark is typically found in waters less than 60 feet deep (vims.edu). With its large, oval, catlike eyes, the smooth dogfish hunts for crustaceans and bony fish on the muddy bottoms of our waters. They can give birth to almost 20 pups (barnegatbaypartnership.org)! 

Join Nauticus for Shark Awareness Day! On Saturday, July 16, dive into finn-tastic themed programming where you will: 

  • Get up and close with White-Spotted Bamboo and Epaulette Sharks in Shark Lab. 
  • Test your knowledge with our shark trivia. 
  • Discover shark superpowers that make them a unique predator. 
  • Polish your paleontology skills by searching for ancient shark teeth. 
  • Tabletop programming and information on conservation and sharks by Minorities in Shark Sciences. 
  • Fish for paper sharks with fish-shaped bean bags.
  • Shift through the sand to find your very own shark tooth to take home.
  • Explore other jawsome games and activities throughout the day.

Nauticus Joins Museums for All’s Access Program Initiative

By Allie Wood

Access to Nauticus’ engaging STEM to STERN education programs, exhibits and the historic Battleship Wisconsin will become more affordable for people of all backgrounds, as the museum has joined the signature access program Museums for All.

Effective July 1, 2022, Nauticus will offer general admission pricing at $3.00 per person, up to four people in a group, with the presentation of a SNAP EBT card (from all 50 states) or Virginia Medicaid card with photo ID.

SNAP EBT cards from all 50 states card, not just Virginia. However, Nauticus will only accept Virginia Medicaid cards. Tickets must be purchased on-site. This admission does not include tickets to special events, tours – only valid for general admission. All admission tickets are non-refundable and are unable to be rescheduled (including special promotion days). To learn more, visit our FAQ page.

Nauticus joins over 25 Virginia museums to participate in Museums for All, the signature program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), administered by the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), that helps expand access to museums and raises public awareness about how museums in the U.S. are reaching their entire communities.

More than 850 institutions participate in the initiative, including art museums, children’s museums, science centers, botanical gardens, zoos, history museums, and more. Participating museums are located nationwide, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Virgin Islands


Nauticus’ Commitment to the Community

Over the past decade Nauticus has strived to make its programs accessible to the community, including the Sail Nauticus Academy, a free after school sailing program for Norfolk Public School students and most recently the implementation of its Student Access Program. Title 1 Schools in Hampton Roads are invited to apply each year for complimentary field trips, outreach sessions, or virtual programs for their students.

Flagship Sailing Academy Celebrates Graduating 2022 Class  

Flagship Sailing Academy Celebrates Graduating 2022 Class  

By Allie Wood

Looking out onto the crowd, Sail Nauticus Instructor Dylan Guill reflected on his first year as the Academy’s coordinator last Saturday during the graduation ceremony. Fifty students and their family gathered in Sail Nauticus’ pavilion to celebrate their achievements over the past year. 

During the 2021-22 school year, the Academy served almost one hundred middle school students from Title I Norfolk Public Schools. In its ninth year, the program has impacted over 2500 students. 

While waiting for the ceremony to commence, students introduced their families to Sail Nauticus instructors and enjoyed a catered breakfast. Many parents were meeting their children’s classmates and instructors for the first time.  

Sail Nauticus’ Manager Sarah Linden-Brooks started off the ceremony by reading excerpts from the student’s sail logs. The crowd chuckled as she recounted windy days, first-time sailing failures, and eventual triumphs. 

One by one, each class was called to the podium. Out of fifty-four 6th graders, only one received her crew card along with all 7th grade graduates. Executive Director Tom Brandl of the Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop was onsite to help christen the wooden rowboat built by the 8th grade students this past winter. With the help of the students, he installed a wooden painted plaque engraved with the chosen name, “Mist.”  

The 8th graders also received their mate cards. Over their three years of instruction, they have shown that they can predict weather and tide patterns, pick up someone who has fallen overboard, safely get the boat on and off the dock, and operate the boat almost by themselves. 

After the ceremony, parents and siblings looked on warily as the 8th graders prepared the boats for a sail. Their expressions turned into awe and excitement as their children smoothly navigated out of the docks and glided into the Elizabeth River. The remaining Academy families lined up to watch the students parade back and forth in front of the pier.    

Throughout the school year, the students transition between sailing, water-safety and STEM education. The 7th graders worked in partnership with Keep Norfolk Beautiful to build a pollinator garden and the 8th graders learned how to row the boats they built. 

Current 6th and 7th grade academy students will return to Sail Nauticus this fall, while the graduating 8th grader class are encouraged to return as a volunteer and eventually a paid instructor.  

Thanks to the support of Nauticus’ supporters, Sail Nauticus members, and the community, that the Sail Nauticus Academy has continued to be a free after-school program. We look forward to welcoming new and returning students this fall. 

 Image Gallery

High-Flying Exhibit Lands at Nauticus Father’s Day Weekend

Plus! Battleship Wisconsin to host a unique golf experience.

Norfolk, Va. (June 16, 2022) – Perhaps no other emerging technology has captured the public’s imagination quite like unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones. On Father’s Day Weekend, June 18, 2022, Nauticus will present a deep dive into the drone phenomenon with a major national traveling exhibit, Drones: Is The Sky The Limit?. 

The interactive exhibition not only tells the story of drone technology over time, but also allows visitors to participate in hands-on drone flying programs, including piloting drones though digital and physical obstacle courses.  

Nauticus is proud to partner with the exhibition’s presenting sponsor, Virginia Peninsula Community College (formally known as Thomas Nelson Community College), as they offer the only Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) certificate program in the region.  

“We’re excited to partner with Nauticus, it’s a really high-tech interactive exhibit that exemplifies our coursework and the application to the workforce” said Julie Young, head of Virginia Peninsula Community College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program. 

With the grand opening of the exhibition, visitors will also enjoy drone demonstrations by VPCC, test their flight skills operating a drone through an interactive obstacle course, and the opportunity to view drones through a new vantage point with the short film “Flowstate” in Nauticus’ 350-seat theatre.  

Drones: Is The Sky The Limit will be on display at Nauticus from June 18 – October 9, 2022. The exhibition is included in Nauticus’ general admission. Admission tickets are $15.95 for adults (13+), $11.50 (12 and under) for children. Tickets can be purchased online at www.nauticus.org. As always, Nauticus members are free.  

Additional Father’s Day weekend programming at Nauticus includes the first ever “Battlechip & Sip” Visitors will enjoy a unique interactive driving range hosted by Splash City Golf on the fantail of the historic Battleship Wisconsin, complete with refreshments specials and entertainment from US106.1. Battlechip & Sip will be open to visitors on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Golf pricing and details can be found at on Nauticus’ website. 

About Nauticus  
Sponsors of “Drones: Is The Sky The Limit” include presenting sponsor Virginia Peninsula Community College and supporting sponsors: DroneUP, the Virginia Maritime Association and the Hampton Roads Shipping Association.  
 
Events and programs at Nauticus are supported by the Nauticus Foundation. The Nauticus Foundation is the nonprofit, 501©3 that supports the mission and activities of Nauticus. Nauticus’ mission is to benefit the community through education, impactful experiences, and sharing access to maritime resources.  For more information, visit www.nauticus.org.  

Largest Cruise Ship to Sail from Norfolk Arrives Sunday

Carnival resumes operations with 4,000-passenger vessel

Photo Credit: GLF Investments

Norfolk, Va. (May 12, 2022) — Mid-Atlantic cruisers will have their first chance to sail from Norfolk since 2019 as the 4,000-passenger Carnival Magic arrives at Nauticus on Sunday, May 15, 2022. This marks the first embarkation from the mermaid city since the COVID-19 pandemic began; the Carnival Magic is the largest cruise ship ever to sail from Virginia.   

“We’re ready to welcome back our partners at Carnival and roll out the red carpet for these passengers,” said Nauticus’ executive director, Stephen E. Kirkland. “This particular ship is just massive, and the downtown skyline will look dramatically different when it arrives.” 

Carnival Cruise Line officials will join the Nauticus team to welcome the first Bahamas-bound passengers into the terminal on Sunday morning. In total, 11 Carnival voyages will depart from Nauticus in 2022, visiting destinations in Bermuda, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Carnival Magic is scheduled to depart for the Bahamas at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday and the community is encouraged to come watch the 1,000-foot-long ship sail away. Tag #nauticuscruise in your cruise pictures for a chance to win a Nauticus “Drones” Prize Pack! Terms: One entry per person. The entry closes on Wednesday, April 18, at 5 p.m. One selected winner will be contacted on Thursday, April 19. No purchase is necessary. Prize cannot be exchanged or traded for cash value.

About Nauticus
Located on the Nauticus campus, the Peter G. Decker, Jr. Half Moone Center is Virginia’s only cruise terminal. Nauticus Foundation is the nonprofit, 501©3 that supports the mission and activities of Nauticus. Nauticus’ mission is to benefit the community through education, impactful experiences, and sharing access to maritime resources. For more information, visit www.nauticus.org

Nauticus Lands National Drones Exhibition

A high-flying examination of the past, present, and future of remotely controlled pilotless aircraft opens Father’s Day Weekend.

Norfolk, Va. (May 5, 2022) – Perhaps no other emerging technology has captured the public’s imagination quite like unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones. Beginning June 18, 2022, Nauticus will present a deep dive into the drone phenomenon with a major national traveling exhibit, Drones: Is The Sky The Limit?.

Developed by subject experts from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and produced by Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Drones provides a birds-eye view of the aeronautics, engineering, science, technologies, and innovations of one of the most intriguing topics dominating our current culture.

“Let’s face it, drones are fascinating and just plain cool,” said Stephen E. Kirkland, Nauticus’ executive director. “Between the US Navy and local entrepreneurial efforts, our region is becoming increasingly familiar with this technology and so the timing is perfect for this blockbuster exhibit.” 

The interactive exhibition not only tells the story of drone technology over time, but also allows visitors to participate in hands-on drone flying programs, including piloting drones though digital and physical obstacle courses. Guests will explore the history of drone technology, from the earliest unmanned flying machines to advanced systems of the 21st century. 

Drones will open on June 18, 2022, at Nauticus with special programming through October 9, 2022. Access to the new exhibit is included in Nauticus’ general admission. Media are invited for a sneak preview on June 17 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Contact Allie Wood, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, for more details.

Plan Your Visit
Nauticus will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Paid admission includes access to the Nauticus museum, special programming, and the Battleship Wisconsin. As always, Nauticus members are free. Tickets and additional details are available online here.

About Imagine Exhibitions
Imagine Exhibitions is currently producing over 40 unique exhibitions globally in museums, science centers, zoos, integrated resorts, and non-traditional venues, with millions of people around the world visiting our exhibitions each year. In addition to developing successful traveling exhibitions, Imagine Exhibitions designs, opens, and operates permanent installations and venues, and consults on building, expanding, and directing museums and attractions. With decades of diverse experience in the museum and entertainment industries, Imagine Exhibitions consistently develops exhibitions that educate and excite while exceeding attendance goals. For more information, visit www.ImagineExhibitions.com or find us on Facebook.

About Nauticus
Drones: Is The Sky The Limit? and additional exhibits are supported by the Nauticus Foundation. The Nauticus Foundation is the nonprofit, 501©3 that supports the mission and activities of Nauticus. Nauticus’ mission is to benefit the community through education, impactful experiences, and sharing access to maritime resources. 

For more information, visit www.nauticus.org.

Nauticus Cruise Season Accelerates With Back-To-Back Ship Calls

Inaugural call of the Norwegian Gem set for Sunday; Norwegian Getaway returns on Monday

Norfolk, Va. (April 8, 2022) — More than 5,000 cruise ship passengers are planning their Norfolk arrival over the coming days as Nauticus welcomes its first back-to-back cruise calls since the COVID-19 pandemic began. On Sunday, the 2,400-passenger Norwegian Gem makes its maiden call to Norfolk. The vessel is scheduled to arrive at 10 a.m. and depart at 7 p.m. On Monday, the Norwegian Getaway returns with its longest port visit so far, arriving at 11:30 a.m. and departing at 6 p.m.

“It’s a very active few days for us and our season is only beginning,” said Nauticus executive director, Stephen E. Kirkland. “This spring is our busiest ever, with weekly ship traffic and Carnival’s return in May.”

The Norwegian Gem and the Norwegian Getaway are both part of Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet. Norwegian Cruise Line is the world’s third-largest cruise company and will call on Norfolk 25 times throughout 2022, marking the largest port-of-call commitment ever for Norfolk.

About Nauticus
Located on the Nauticus campus, the Peter G. Decker, Jr. Half Moone Center is Virginia’s only cruise terminal. Nauticus Foundation is the nonprofit, 501©3 that supports the mission and activities of Nauticus. Nauticus’ mission is to benefit the community through education, impactful experiences, and sharing access to maritime resources. For more information, visit www.nauticus.org

Battleship Wisconsin to Open New Spaces on 78th Birthday

Guests will enjoy new renovations and interpretations.

Norfolk, Va. (Apr. 7, 2022) — Thanks to a successful second year of WinterFest on the Wisconsin and the community’s support, Nauticus is excited to announce the opening of new spaces aboard the Battleship Wisconsin. On April 16, 2022, on the Wisconsin’s 78th birthday, general admission guests can explore the newly interpreted Senior Officer’s Country. 

Located off the wardroom, guests can venture into the Senior Officer’s Country, where high-ranking officers and officers with “specialty” jobs lived. Because they held senior positions, these officers had their own staterooms. Visitors will be transported back in time as they listen to audio by previous officers who have occupied these staterooms, like the Weapons and Chief Engineering Officers, as well as the ship’s Chaplin and Administration.

Nauticus could not of reinterpreted these spaces without the help of the community! These groups volunteered their time to clean up these spaces by painting, welding, building, and so much more: The USS Lewis B Puller Group, Tidewater Tech Welding Group, Portsmouth NMRTC FCPOA, USS Oak Hill, USCG ATO Portsmouth, and US Navy Fleet Forces Command Band.

Guests are invited to celebrate the Battleship Wisconsin as she turns 78 on April 16, 2022. Visitors can enjoy live entertainment and educational programming. Nauticus members can bring a friend for free and active-duty military and their children are invited to visit at a discounted ticket price.

Want to see more of the Wisconsin? Explore areas of battleship on the Command and Control Tour and Life in the Engine Room tours with a historical interpreter and learn how the battleship was commanded and maintained. These experiences are ticketed and require reservations. Learn more and purchase tickets here.

Plan Your Visit
Nauticus is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays – Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Paid admission includes access to the Nauticus museum, special programming, and the Battleship Wisconsin. As always, Nauticus members are free. Tickets and additional details are available online here.

About Nauticus
Support for the Battleship Wisconsin directly benefits the Nauticus Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.Funding provides interpretation and restoration of the Battleship Wisconsin and allows Nauticus to open new onboard spaces and experiential learning opportunities for students, families and visitors.

For more information, visit www.nauticus.org