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.
We live in a time of great opportunity. The spirit of innovation can help us overcome challenges and ensure a prosperous and secure future. To seize this opportunity, we must position ourselves at the cutting edge of scientific discovery and technological innovation.
Yet our country is falling behind in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is why many professionals and educators in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics believe the United States should do more now than ever to encourage students to enter STEM-related fields. These experts say our young people need strong STEM skills to compete in the world market. We must work together to cultivate the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators.
What Are the Nova Awards?
The Boy Scouts of America developed the Nova Awards program to excite and expand a sense of wonder in our Scouts. By working with an adult counselor or mentor, the various modules allow them to explore the basic principles of STEM and discover how fun and fascinating STEM can be. The Supernova awards are offered for those who enjoy a super challenge. Discover how the Nova Awards program helps youth be "Prepared. For Life."
The Nova Awards
There are four Nova awards for Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers. Each award covers one component of STEM—science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
- 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 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
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.
All requirements may be found in the Nova awards guidebooks, available through local Scout shops—one for Cub Scouts, one for Boy Scouts, and one for Venturers. The requirements can be completed with a parent or an adult leader as the counselor (for the Nova awards) or mentor (for the Supernova awards). Each guidebook includes a section for the counselor and mentor.
Nova Counselors and Supernova Mentors
A Nova counselor can be any registered adult age 21 or older. 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.
In addition to the BSA Adult Registration form, counselors and mentors must complete the Samoset Council STEM application.
All Nova counselors and Supernova mentors must have current BSA Youth Protection training and certification appropriate for the programs being administered (Cub and Boy Scout Y01, Venturing Y02).