Cherokee Area - ProgramsSTEM Programs in BSA

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Initiatives


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 initiatives that emphasizes STEM in the context of the current advancement programs.

BSA STEM Initiative

The 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.

The NOVA and SUPERNOVA award programs are now available and guidebooks can be downloaded at the links below! Guidebooks can also be purchased in the Scout Shop. Instructions on how to implement the awards program are found in the guidebooks.

From now through May 2013, though the NOVA patch is an earned award, any unit can buy one patch to have as an example to show to their Scouts or Venturers. We hope by doing this, the youth can see what the patch looks like up close and will be inspired to work on this new advancement program. Beyond just the one patch, units will need to provide a completed advancement report to get any more NOVA patches.

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 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.

The SUPERNOVA Award program is similar to the BSA Hornaday Award Program. 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. SUPERNOVA is designed to encourage and recognize more in-depth achievement in STEM. The SUPERNOVA awards are medals on neck ribbons.

Any Scouter or parent can help be a counselor for the NOVA awards with unit approval - there is no paperwork for this process.

For the SUPERNOVA (on all program levels), Mentors must be approved by the District Advancement Chair. A merit badge counselor application form can be used for this process and Youth Protection Training must also be taken. Mentors should be 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. Scouters with a STEM background may work with Scouts in their unit and encouraged as well outside of their own unit.

To apply to be a Supernova Mentor, please download a Merit Badge Counselor Form. Youth Protection Training may be completed online. Thanks in advance to help counsel our Scouts on the Supernova.

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. Copy of the Unit Advancement Report. For those Scouts working on the Supernova medals, download the Supernova award application and turn it in with the Unit advancement form.

Please consider being the STEM Chair for your unit and help with the promotion of the awards, local STEM activities, and identifying Supernova Mentors.

Best of luck to our Scouts on these new awards. Who will be our first recipients???


Den Leaders looking for some program ideas around science for their Cub Scouts' advancement trail may find some helpful resources in this document:
Cub Scout Science Ideas.doc Cub Scout Science Ideas

Cub Scout STEM Related Awards
For Cub Scout Academic and Sports Belt Loops and Pins, the following have STEM related requirements: Astronomy, Computers, Fishing, Geology, Horseback Riding, Mathematics, Photography, Science, Weather, and Wildlife Conservation.

For Webelos Scouts, the following Activity Badges have STEM related requirements: Communicator, Engineer, Forester, Geologist, Naturalist, and Scientist.


The National BSA office has deemed 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.

NEW SCHOLARSHIP Promotes Science and Math Education -
As the economy struggles and college costs rise, scholarships are becoming more important than ever. So the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) is proud to announce that it has permanently funded a new annual Eagle Scout scholarship.

The NESA STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Scholarship will be awarded annually to an Eagle Scout who intends to major and pursue a career in one of those fields. Applicants must submit the Eagle Scout Academic Scholarships application, available from The application must include a signed statement—one the applicant has written—that details his education and career goals in a STEM-related field, as well as a signed reference letter from a high school teacher in that field. 

The new scholarship aligns with the BSA’s renewed emphasis on promoting science and technology, fields where American students seriously lag their counterparts around the world. (Three-fourths of America’s fastest growing occupations require significant math and science preparation, yet less than 15 percent of high school graduates are prepared to pursue scientific or technical training in college, according to one study.) For more information on the BSA’s STEM initiative, visit

Boys Life Magazine has listed on its website various resources on Robotics and Robotics Merit Badge. You can find helpful information at these links:
Robotics resources
2011 report-to-the-nation - STEM


Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts can participate in a wide range of activities including ones that will help them earn badges. Scouts will be able to do hands-on activities such as making and launching paper airplanes and gliders, building a model rocket, discovering Earth's satellites (man made and natural), and learning how astronauts travel to space and keep their bodies safe when they do space walks.

Individual rates apply to public program dates. Group rates apply to private workshop reservations.