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

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.There are awards for Cub ScoutsWebelos ScoutsBoy Scouts and Venturers. These awards are designed to encourage participation and to increase interest in STEM by making it relevant and fun. 

For their first Nova award, Scouts earn the distinctive Nova award patch. After that, a Scout can earn additional Nova awards, each one recognized with a separate pi (π) pin-on device that attaches to the patch. The patch and the pi 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 includes earning certain adventures for Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts and merit badges for Boy Scouts, plus completing additional, more rigorous STEM related requirements. The Venturing requirements are based on more independent achievement and teaching activities. The Supernova Award is designed to encourage and recognize more in-depth achievement in STEM. The Supernova Awards are medals on neck ribbons.

Requirements 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 for Cub Scouts (614935), Boy Scouts (614936), and Venturing (614934).  The latest requirements can always be found online at

Forms are available for use to track progress toward completion of the awards. See the appropriate STEM/Nova Program Resources webpage: Cub ScoutsWebelos ScoutsBoy 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 at the Cockrell Scout Center (2225 N Loop W. Houston, Texas 77008) 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

Nova counselor is required to help a Scout complete the requirements for a Nova award. A Nova counselor introduces Scouts to the basic principles of STEM and helps them discover how fun and fascinating science, technology, engineering, and math can be. Each pack and troop should have at least one counselor, possibly several for more active units. 

Supernova mentors are required to help a Scout complete the Supernova award. With a parent’s and unit leader’s help, the Scout must select a council-approved mentor who is a registered Scouter. A Scout may NOT choose their parent or unit leader as a mentor (unless the mentor is working with more than one youth). Scouters with a STEM background may work with Scouts in their unit and encouraged as well to work outside of their own unit. Find mentors through the district STEM representative.

Become a STEM NOVA Counselor

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Can be a parent or scout leader
  • Be able and willing to work with Scout-age youth
  • Be comfortable with high school math and science
  • Knowledgeable in a STEM topic(s) and be willing to research STEM topics unfamiliar to you
  • Provide current certification in Youth Protection Training
  • Complete BSA adult registration form (no charge, position code 58)
  • Submit Nova counselor Information to council
  • Be approved by council
  • Complete Nova Counselor Training (highly recommended; available at University of Scouting) or NOVA Counselor Self Study Guide

Become a STEM NOVA Mentor

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • NOT the parent or unit leader of the Scout (some exceptions)
  • Be able and willing to work with Scout-age youth over many months
  • Expert in STEM topic(s) by vocation, hobby, or education
  • Provide current certification in Youth Protection Training
  • Complete BSA adult registration form (no charge, position code 52)
  • Submit Supernova Mentor Information to council
  •  Be approved by council
  • Complete Supernova Mentor Training (required; available at University of Scouting) or Supernova Mentor Training Guide


STEM orientation courses are intended to be used to provide an orientation for Scouts, Scouters, and parents about Scouting, the STEM program and the STEM opportunities in Scouting. STEM orientation course can be found online

Youth Protection Training    Supernova Mentor Application STEM/Nova Counselor Information Form (SHAC)

  STEM Orientation Course    STEM Training

STEM Resources



Find Supernova counselors and mentors contacts, and council STEM committee contacts.