STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
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.
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.
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 Scouts. The hope is that the requirements and activities for earning these awards stimulate 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. 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 Scouts BSA, 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 Scoutstuff.org for Cub Scouts (614935), Scouts BSA (614936), and Venturing and Sea Scouts (614934). The latest requirements can always be found online at scouting.org/stem.
Forms are available for use to track progress toward the completion of the awards. See the appropriate STEM/Nova Program Resources webpage: Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Scouts BSA and Venturing and Sea Scouts.
Once any of the awards are earned by Scouts, completion of the award is recorded by the unit within internet advancement. For those Scouts who have completed a Supernova medal, the Supernova Award Application must be completed, then submitted for verification at the Cockrell Scout Center. Regalia for the STEM program is not available through the Scout Shop. Patches must be purchased through Class B. Pins and medals must be purchased through Crown Awards.
Counselors and Mentors
A 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, troop and crew 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 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 are encouraged as well to work outside of their own unit. Registered leaders in a unit may find Nova counselors and Supernova mentors using the search function available in Scoutbook, or by contacting their district's STEM representative.
Become a STEM NOVA Counselor
Become a STEM NOVA Mentor
- Be at least 21 years old
- NOT the parent or 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 the council
- Be approved by council
- Self-guided training can be found at
scouting.org/stem-nova-awards/volunteer-support or University of Scouting
Self-guided STEM Nova learning modules 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. These STEM Nova orientation modules can be found online.
Youth Protection Training Supernova Mentor Application STEM/Nova Counselor Information Form (SHAC)
STEM Orientation Course STEM Training
Scout Days are awesome opportunities to get your Scouts, friends and family together for some exciting experiences around the area with other Scouting families. All Scout Days are offered at a discounted price of admission. Also, many of our partners offer classes that work on STEM Nova award requirements and STEM-related merit badge classes, and advancement workshops for Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts.
Find Supernova counselors and mentors contacts, and council STEM committee contacts.