The Boy Scouts of America's NOVA Awards program incorporates learning with cool activities and exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers. The hope is that the requirements and activities for earning these awards stimulates interest in STEM-related fields and shows how science, technology, engineering and mathematics apply to everyday living and the world around them. Counselors and mentors help bring this engaging, contemporary, and fun program to life for youth members.
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. 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
There are four Nova awards for Cub Scouts, Webelos, Boy Scouts and Venturers. Each award covers one component of STEM—science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. These awards are designed to encourage participation and to increase interest in STEM by making it relevant and fun.
- Cub Scout Nova awards: Science Everywhere, Tech Talk, Swing!, and 1-2-3 Go!
- Boy Scout Nova awards: Shoot!, Start Your Engines, Whoosh!, and Designed to Crunch
- Venturer Scout Nova awards: Launch!, Power Up, Hang On!, and Numbers Don't Lie
For their first Nova award, Scouts earn the distinctive Nova award patch. After that, a Scout can earn three more Nova awards, each one recognized with a separate pi (π) pin-on device that attaches to the patch. The patch and the three devices represent each of the four STEM topics—science, technology, engineering, and 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 earning the Supernova award, Scouts receive a medal and certificate.
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.
Guidebooks and 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 Scoutstuff.org for Cub Scouts (614935), Boy Scouts (614936), and Venturing (614934).
Forms are available for use to track progress toward completion of the awards. See the appropriate STEM/Nova Program Resources webpage: Cub Scouts, Webelos, Boy Scouts and Venturing.
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 and pins) and Supernova medals and certificates are available for purchase through the Scout Shop, after completion of the appropriate paperwork.
Counselors and Mentors
A Nova counselor is required to help a Scout complete the requirements for a Nova award. A Nova counselor can be any registered adult age 21 or older. They must be registered under the new nonunit position and no fee is required. The Nova counselor code is 58. All Nova counselors must have current BSA Youth Protection Training for the programs being administered (Cub and Boy Scout Y01, Venturing Y02). This position is approved by the district committee.
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 52. This is a nonunit position and requires no fee. In addition to the BSA Adult Registration form, mentors must turn in the Supernova Awards Mentor Information application into the Cockrell Scout Center for processing and approval by the SHAC STEM committee. All Supernova mentors must have current BSA Youth Protection Training for the programs being administered (Cub and Boy Scout Y01, Venturing Y02).
Supernova 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.
STEM Orientation courses are intended to be used to provide an orientation for Scouts, Scouters, and parents about Scouting and the STEM program and the STEM opportunities in Scouting and can be found online.
Youth Protection Training Supernova Mentor Application STEM Orientation Course
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