What is STEM and what are the NOVA / SUPERNOVA Awards?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  These are vital fields of study that help our economy grow and function smoothly. 

Unfortunately, the USA hasn’t been doing a consistely good job of promoting STEM studies, teachers skilled in STEM areas, or graduating enough students in STEM majors to fill all the jobs in STEM related industries.  There is an interesting STEM “infographic” located at http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/1107/stem-education/flash.html 

Fortunately, many of the activities and merit badge unit studies within the Scouting program support the development of STEM learning.  This is a benefit of being involved in scouting and part of what leads to future success in life for many scouts.

To further promote STEM learning within the scouting program, BSA has been working on a web site that illustrates the connections between existing curriculum and STEM.  Additionally, they’ve created special awards as incentives to encourage scouts to pursue this curriculum.

Just as a curriculum path leads to Eagle Rank and another leads to the Hornaday Award (as two examples), the STEM program leads to NOVA awards, and the even more prestigious SUPERNOVA awards.

There are four Boy Scouts awards — Shoot!, Start Your Engines, Whoosh!, and Designed to Crunch. 

“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.”

Details about the NOVA awards can be found at http://www.scouting.org/stem/Awards/AboutNova.aspx 

For Boy Scouts (ages 11-17) there are two SUPERNOVA awards:

    • Dr. Bernard Harris Supernova Bronze Award
    • Thomas Edison Supernova Silver Award

For earning the Supernova award, Scouts receive a medal and certificate.


  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, in the next five years, STEM jobs are projected to grow twice as quickly as jobs in other fields. While all jobs are expected to grow by 10.4%, STEM jobs are expected to increase by 21.4%. Similarly, 80% of jobs in the next decade will require technical skills.
  •  The US Department of Labor claims that out of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected to 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation. The U.S. will have over 1 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018; yet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, only 16% of U.S. bachelor’s degrees will specialize in STEM. As a nation, we are not graduating nearly enough STEM majors to supply the demand.
  •  To put these numbers into perspective, of the 3.8 million 9th graders in the US, only 233,000 end up choosing a STEM degree in college (National Center for Education Statistics). That means only six STEM graduates out of every 100 9th graders.  (The STEM Dilemma)


Scouts have always enjoyed a wide range of learning and STEM isn’t really “new” to scouting; however, it’s a good area for scouts to work on since it may help them get a job, find a career, or just come to better appreciate the awesomeness of the created world around them.

Homeschoolers and traditional schoolers will benefit from these programs since it helps make learning fun and relevant to the pupil.

You can find out more of the details for Boy Scouts at this web site – http://www.scouting.org/stem/Awards/BoyScouts.aspx

OR by checking out the video, below.



About Troop113

Our Troop # comes from Psalm 1:1-3 - describing the men we want our scouts to become
This entry was posted in News Item and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s