January 15, 2014

The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association
E-Comet Newsletter

2014 Summer Discovery Camp

Registration for Discovery Camp opens February 1st!


MMA Welcomes New Year-Round Director of Education

The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association is pleased to announce the arrival of its new year-round Director of Education, Kim Botelho.  Kim will be replacing outgoing seasonal Director of Education Whitney Morris who worked for the MMA from May 2011 to the fall of 2013.  The MMA would like to take this time to thank Whitney for all she has accomplished during her tenure with us.  Whitney returned to the mainland to be closer to family but has left a wonderful legacy and a great path for Kim to begin on.

Kim comes to Nantucket from Rhode Island with an extensive background in science education.  Most recently, Kim served as the Education Director for the Norman Bird Sanctuary where she ran programs similar to those of the MMA and developed partnerships with community organizations.  She also served as the Curriculum Director, Site Coordinator and Lead Teacher with Braintree After School Enrichment and worked for many years at the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, serving as their Education Coordinator.  Kim has extensive experience in the field with children and adults, as well as in the classroom and behind-the-scenes.  She serves on the board of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association, served on the board of the Ocean State Environmental Education Collaborative, and is an active volunteer with the New England Wildflower Society.  Kim also owns EarthStart Photography and her environmental photographs have been used by numerous environmental organizations in exhibits and publications.  Kim will be coming to the island with her two chocolate labs who we are sure will enjoy moving to the island as much as Kim.  Please help us to give Kim a warm welcome to the MMA and Nantucket!

MMA's Astronomy REU Program Recommended for Four More Years of Funding

We are delighted to report that the National Science Foundation has recommended four more years of funding for MMA's summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in astronomy, with an award of $393,385.00.  The recommendation notes that MMA's REU program in astronomy has been highly successful and could serve as a source of best practices for the entire national REU program.  The NSF program director noted, "It is a very difficult year and only a handful of REU sites will be funded, so MMA can be proud of this accomplishment."

NanoDays Coming to Nantucket 

A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.  A nanoyear is the time it takes to blink an eye.  Nanotechnology is anything that was engineered using tiny molecules.  Obviously, nano things are very, very tiny.  But did you know you use nanotechnology every day?  Nanotechnology is in your cell phone, computer, cosmetics, sunscreen, food, and even baby diapers!


Each spring, science museums across the country participate and host free events for visitors to learn about nano things in a program called NanoDays. For the third year in a row, NanoDays will be on Nantucket! In partnership with the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, the MMA has won a special NanoDays exhibit for the event this year.  The exhibit contains activities, demonstrations, and digital media to help people learn about nano things and how nanotechnology is part of our everyday lives. 


Mark your calendars!  The kick-off event will be the weekend of March 29th at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital.  During the following week, we will be visiting school classrooms and doing demonstrations outside of the Stop and Shop on Sparks Avenue.  2014 is your chance to become nanoliterate!

Ferrofluid (nano magnetite) is part of this year's exhibit.

Nanodays is funded by the National Science Foundation through NISEnet.

Astronomy Program Well Represented at the 223rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington D.C. 

Last summer's REU students in astronomy attended the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington D.C. from January 5th-9th. The students presented results from their research projects and attended the many interesting talks. More than 3,000 astronomers attended the meeting.  MMO Director, Michael West, also gave a talk about his research titled "The Spectacular Interacting Galaxy System Arp 105."

Berkeley student and 2013 astronomy MMO REU intern Baylee Bordwell presented results of her research to more than 3,000 astronomers at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington D.C.

Winter Is Hard on Barn Owls

Barn owls are at the northern tip of their range here on Nantucket and winter can be very hard on them.  For an update on barn owls on Nantucket visit the MMA website.


A barn owl seen during nest box repair after the recent snow storm.

Director of Astronomy is Published in the Wall Street Journal and USAToday

Astronomy Director Michael West recently published Op-Ed pieces in two of the nation's largest newspapers.  "The Heartbreak of Comets" appeared in the Wall Street Journal and discussed the demise of Comet Ison, which was destroyed when it passed near the sun.  USA Today published his essay on "Life, the Universe, and the Peter Principle," which considered the search for intelligent life in the universe.

Winter Programs

Ravenous Reptiles
Ages 4 and older. Select Saturdays,
11-11:45 AM.  Pre-registration required.

Turtles & Tots
Ages 2-5. Select Wednesdays, 9:30-10 AM.   Pre-registration required. 

January Stargazing Nights

Loines Observatory
Friday, January 24th and Saturday, January 25th, 7:30-9 PM

(Weather Permitting)

Annual Appeal


Thank you to everyone who has responded to our 2013 Annual Appeal!  Your donation helps us continue what we are known for best -- dynamic, hands-on, family friendly learning at the Observatories, Aquarium, Natural Science Museum, and the Mitchell House. 


Each year, the Maria Mitchell Association presents the island with an exciting array of science- and nature- related programs for learners of all ages.  From seining trips with the Aquarium staff, to lectures by internationally-renown scientists, to stargazing nights at Loines Observatory, and the highly-respected summer Discovery program, Nantucketers make use of the MMA to deepen their science knowledge, explore new topics, and simply enjoy being with others who share a similar respect and affection for Nantucket's unique environment.


Membership dues, admissions fees, event revenues, and grants writing do not cover all of our annual program and operating expenses.  Gifts to the annual appeal for the Maria Mitchell Association are unrestricted operating support helping to insure that we are able to continue this important work.  Even as we work to achieve new goals - the Aquarium and Science Center - we remain in need of your support of our ongoing operations.  If you haven't already, please show your support and appreciation for the important work we do and make a gift to our annual appeal. 

Your generous support allows us to bring programs to the island community throughout the entire year.

2014 Membership Renewal!
Don't forget to renew your membership for 2014 and register for summer Discovery Camp!  The purchase of a 2014 membership allows you to use our special benefits until December 31, 2014!   Membership with the MMA comes with many benefits including unlimited free admission to all of our locations, discounts on classes and special members only events, and a ten percent discount in the MMA gift shops.

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 4 Vestal Street
Nantucket, MA 02554
(508) 228-9198
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Board and Staff


John L. Daniels, President
Deb Manus, First Vice President
Caren Lambert, Ph.D., Second Vice President
Michael Nelson, Treasurer
Malcolm MacNab, M.D., Ph.D., Clerk
Howard Blitman
Patricia L.R. Brennan, Ph.D. 
Patty Gibian 
Judy MacLeod 
Toni McKerrow

Mary Archibald (Bebe) Poor, D.V.M  

Eileen Rudden
Anne P. Strain
Edward Symes, III
Helene M. Weld



Administration (508)228-9198
Janet E. Schulte, Ph.D., Executive Director
Joan Alison Stockman, Financial Administrator

Kyra Taylor, Administrative Assistant
Astronomy (508)228-9723
Michael West, Director of Astronomy, Ph.D.
Vladimir Strelnitski, Maria Mitchell Observatory's Director Emeritus, Ph.D.
Gary Walker, Astronomer and Telescope Engineer

Mitchell House & Archives and Special Collections (508)228-2896
Jascin Leonardo Finger, Curator of the Mitchell House

Natural Science (508)228-9198
Andrew Mckenna-Foster, Director of Natural Science
Education (508)228-9198
Kim Botelho, Director of Education 
         Robert Kennedy, Senior Research Fellow, Ph.D.         
Edith F. Andrews,Ornithologist Emeritus
                                            Peter Boyce,  Research Associate, Ph.D.                                        
           Valerie A. Hall, Research Associate              

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Maria Mitchell Association
4 Vestal Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
email: info@mariamitchell.org

phone: (508)228-9198
fax: (508)228-1031
web: http://www.mariamitchell.org
Maria Mitchell Association