Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) 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.

The BSA's STEM initiative gives Scouts and 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.

Community STEM Events: Many of our community partners offer STEM merit badge classes and advancement workshops, and other opportunities such as the Science Engineering Fair of Houston. Visit our Scout Days page for more information.

Nova and Supernova Awards

To stimulate interest in STEM, the BSA has instituted a series of new awards entitled Nova and Supernova.

The NOVA Award program consists of individual activity elements in various STEM topics structured for Cub Scout, Webelos Scout, Boy Scout, and 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.

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.

Counselors & Mentors

A Counselor is required to help a Scout complete the requirements for a Nova award. Any registered Scouter who has completed Youth Protection Training can be a counselor for the NOVA awards with unit approval - there is no paperwork for this process.

A Mentor is required for the Supernova award (on all program levels). Mentors must be registered Scouters who have completed Youth Protection Training and must be approved by the STEM/Nova Committee. A special Supernova Mentor application form is available for this process. Completed applications should be turned into the Cockrell Scout Center for processing.

Mentors should be experienced 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 to work outside of their own unit.

To take Youth Protection Training, click Here.

To download the application to be a Supernova Mentor, click Here.
Thanks in advance for helping to mentor our Scouts on the Supernova.

Guidebooks & Awards

Instructions on how to implement the awards program and all of the requirements for the award are provided in guidebooks which may either be purchased in the Scout Shop or ordered online via

Forms are available for use to track progress toward completion of the awards. See the appropriate STEM/Nova Program Resources webpage: Cub Scout, Webelos Scout, Boy Scout,Venturer.

Once any of the awards are earned by Scouts, completion of the award is recorded in Internet Advancement. For those Scouts who have a completed a Supernova medal, the Supernova Award Application can be downloaded and turned in with the Internet Advancement printout.

All nova awards (patches & pins) and Supernova medals & certificates are available for purchase through the Scout Shop, after completion of the appropriate paperwork.

STEM Resources

For Questions Contact:

Michelle Phillips
Program Director
(713) 756-3308