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STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These disciplines are considered by many to be the foundation of an advanced society. In many forums-including political, governmental, and academic-the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation's ability to sustain itself.
To engage our youth members in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the Boy Scouts of America has created new program initiative that emphasizes STEM in the context of the current advancement programs.
BSA's STEM initiative gives Scouts an opportunity to explore relevant skills and experiences and to be recognized for their achievements. The aim is to expose youth to new opportunities and help them develop the STEM skills critical for the competitive world marketplace. Our council is preparing itself to implement these initiatives.
Nova and Supernova STEM Awards
The NOVA Award program consists of individual activity elements in various STEM topics structured for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, & Venturers. These topics, or four NOVA awards for each program level, are designed to encourage participation and to increase interest in STEM by making it relevant and fun. The NOVA award is a distinctive pocket patch with a separate pin on device awarded for each individual topic completed by the youth, up to three pins.
As of January 1, 2014, the process for receiving the Supernova Award Medal will be changing. Upon completion and approval of the award, the scout will be given a certificate which can be used to purchase the medal from a scout shop. An advancement report should be submitted along with the certificate at the time of purchase at the scout shop
Cub Scout Nova Awards:
Boy Scout Nova Awards:
Venturer Scout Nova Awards:
The SUPERNOVA Award program is similar to the BSA Hornaday Award Program and is designed to encourage and recognize more in-depth achievement in STEM. The basic requirements include earning certain Academic Pins for Cub Scouts, Activity Badges for Webelos and Merit Badges for Boy Scouts, plus complete additional, more rigorous STEM related requirements. The Venturing requirements are based on more independent achievement and teaching activities. The SUPERNOVA awards are medals on neck ribbons.
All forms should be submitted to your district STEM coordinator.
Any Scouter or parent can help be a counselor for the NOVA awards. No STEM experience is necessary. Counselors will need to fill out this form and a BSA adult application form. For the SUPERNOVA (on all program levels), Mentors must be approved by District STEM Chairman. Mentors should not be a parent or a Scout leader from the unit but an expert in a STEM related field (i.e., Scientists, Engineer, Technologists, Science Teachers, Math Teachers, etc.). Only if a Mentor is willing to work with two or more Scouts on the SUPERNOVA at the same time will the exception of a parent with a STEM background be allowed. Prospective SUPERNOVA mentors must submit a mentor application form, BSA adult application form [English][Spanish], and proof of youth protection training to the district advancement chairman or district STEM chairman. Visit BSA's STEM support webpage.
Once any of the awards are earned by Scouts, an advancement form can be filled out and submitted to the Scout Shop. The Advancement department will keep a record of the Scout's achievement on these awards.
Scouts working on the Supernova medals should submit the appropriate Supernova worksheet listed below along with the Supernova award application to the district STEM chairman or district executive.
STEM Facebook Page link
Coordinators in each district serve as a local resource to scouting units and match scouts working on the Supernova awards with mentors. Click to take you to the page with the list of district coordinators.
Council STEM Committee
A Council STEM Committee has been formed with the goal of supporting the STEM initiative and promoting STEM activities throughout the region. Dr. Nicholas Maliszewskyj, a physicist at NIST, is the chairman and James Hamlin, NCAC Assistant Director of Field Service, is the council liaison. Any Scouters interested in participating in this committee should contact James Hamlin at 301-214-9130 for more information. The STEM Coordinator in charge of the STEM van and General Dynamics STEM lab at Camp Snyder is Jacklyn Duff.
The vision of this committee is to see all of our Council units engaged in some kind of STEM initiative during the program year. By engaging our council with STEM education we are doing our part to promote excellence and our nation’s technological competitiveness in an increasingly complex world.
For more STEM information you can contact STEM@ncacbsa.org.
STEM Education Opportunities and Resources
The National Capital Area offers a wealth of opportunities for Scouts of all ages to explore what it means to work as scientist or engineer or to engage in hobbies in science and technology.