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Stem NovaSTEM— (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Initiative

STEM/Nova Cool Videos from BSA! Check them out!

STEM is part of an initiative the Boy Scouts of America has taken on to encourage the natural curiosity of youth members and their sense of wonder about these fields through existing programs. From archery to welding, Scouts can't help but enjoy the wide range of STEM-related activities. To support this initiative, the BSA developed the Nova Awards program so that youth members have fun and receive recognition for their efforts.

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Stem GuideKeys to Implementing a Successful STEM Program-Click Here for the Program Guide
The STEM program complements the traditional Scout program and provides another avenue for exploration, leadership development and fun.  For many youth, the allure of science and technology is overwhelming and used properly the STEM program can be a powerful recruiting tool.  

First, make it fun.  The STEM program is not designed to supplement traditional schooling, but rather to spark the imagination and natural curiosity of youth.  Second, incorporate it into your traditional program.   It is simple to add a STEM element to Scouting activities which complements the “what” of the activity with the “how and why” it works.  For example, the Pinewood Derby event at the Cub Scout level is all about science and engineering. Start with a group session to introduce the topic to your pack, troop or crew.  The project should have a physical element.  

Most important is to review the information in websites of both the BSA and the Three Fires Council.  Everything a unit needs to start a STEM initiative is located on the website including the Nova awards guidebooks or you can purchase the guidebooks at your local Scout shop to explore the basic principles of STEM and discover how fun and fascinating STEM can be. STEM Talking Points

Nova Counselors and Supernova Mentors -With the introduction of the new Nova and Supernova awards comes a fresh opportunity for volunteer positions. A Nova Counselor can be any registered adult age 21 or older should be registered under the new Nova Counselor position code 52. Supernova mentors must be 21 or older and be subject matter experts in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field and be registered under the new Supernova Mentor position code 58. These are nonunit positions and requires no fee. In addition to the BSA Adult Registration form, mentors must complete the Supernova Awards Mentor Information application. Learn more about these opportunities by clicking on Volunteer Support.

 Why STEM? - We live in a time of great opportunity. The spirit of innovation can help us overcome challenges and ensure a prosperous and secure future. To seize this opportunity, we must position ourselves at the cutting edge of scientific discovery and technological innovation. Yet our country is falling behind in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is why many professionals and educators in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics believe the United States should do more now than ever to encourage students to enter STEM-related fields. These experts say our young people need strong STEM skills to compete in the world market. We must work together to cultivate the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators.

NovaNovaWhat Are the Nova Awards? - The Boy Scouts of America developed the Nova Awards program to excite and expand a sense of wonder in our Scouts. By working with an adult counselor or mentor, the various modules allow them to explore the basic principles of STEM and discover how fun and fascinating STEM can be. The Supernova awards are offered for those who enjoy a super challenge. For more information about STEM and the Nova Awards program, visit the links below. Discover how the Nova Awards program helps youth be "Prepared. For Life."

NOVA Award Tracking Tools
Here are some helpful tracking forms to help counselors with the Nova Award.




Attached is a list of PBS Nova online programs that apply to Shoot!, Start Your Engines! and Designed to Crunch.  You can click on the title to take you to the web page.   PBS Nova Online Programs

The NOVA and SUPERNOVA award programs are now available and can be downloaded through the links below.

SupernovaPIThe 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 will be a distinctive pocket patch with a separate pin on device awarded for each individual topic completed by the youth, up to three pins.

There are four Nova awards for Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers. Each award covers one component of STEM—science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.



The Supernova awards have more rigorous requirements than the Nova awards. The requirements and activities were designed to motivate youth and recognize more in-depth, advanced achievement in STEM-related activities.

  • For Wolf and Bear Cub Scouts: Dr. Louis Alvarez Supernova Award
  • For Webelos Scouts: Dr. Charles H. Townes Supernova Award
  • For Boy Scouts: Dr. Bernard Harris Supernova Bronze Award / Thomas Edison Supernova Silver Award
  • For Venturers: Dr. Sally Ride Supernova Bronze Award / Wright Brothers Supernova Silver Award / Dr. Albert Einstein Supernova Gold Award


SUPERNOVA Award Tracking Forms

For earning the Supernova award, Scouts receive a medal and certificate. All requirements may be found in the Nova awards guidebooks, available in printed versions through our local Scout shops—one for Cub Scouts, one for Boy Scouts, and one for Venturers. The requirements can be completed with a parent or an adult leader as the counselor (for the Nova awards) or mentor (for the Supernova awards). Each guidebook includes a section for the counselor and mentor.

Download the Cub Scout NOVA booklet 34032_CSNova.pdf34032_CSNova.pdf
Download the Boy Scout NOVA booklet 34033_BSNova.pdf34033_BSNova.pdf
Download the Venturing NOVA booklet 34031_Venturer.pdf34031_Venturing.pdf

Cub Scout Academic and Sports Belt Loops and Pins, with STEM related requirements:  Astronomy, Computers, Fishing, Geology, Horseback Riding, Mathematics, Photography, Science, Weather, and Wildlife Conservation.

Webelos Scout Activity Badges with STEM related requirements:  Communicator, Engineer, Forester, Geologist, Naturalist, and Scientist.

The National BSA office has designated the following as STEM related merit badges:  Animal Science, Astronomy, Bird Study, Chemistry, Computers, Drafting, Electricity, Electronics, Energy, Engineering, Environmental Science, Forestry, Geology, Insect Study, Inventing, Mammal Study, Medicine, Model design and Building, Nature, Nuclear Science, Oceanography, Personal Management, Photography, Plant Science, Reptile and Amphibian Study, Robotics, Soil and Water Conservation, Space Exploration, Surveying, Veterinary Medicine, and Weather.   There are 21 other badges that have fewer STEM related requirements involved.