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STEM Scout pilot program

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Okay, okay class, settle down..... We are studying how to bring the BSA into the twenty second century. Who has an idea? Yes, Stanley?

= Howzabout having a Merit Badge College? We could teach the "science merit badges".=

There are science merit badges? Don't you remember the "outing" in Scouting? We only work with Pioneering, Hiking, Bird Study....Yes, Oliver?

= Oh, I think Stan is talking about Chemistry, Nuclear Science, Geology, Astronomy, Space Exploration , ...=

= And didn't they rename Computers as Digital Technology?=

Yes Archibald, I believe they did that some years ago. What do you say then? Should we plan on a new Merit Badge College? Would that make it easier to earn these badges? Say, a STEM Scout Day? Get a bunch of scientist type folks together just for that?

= Hey, I don't want to go to SCHOOL , I want to go CAMPING...=

That's a good idea, Ollie. Maybe we could do a summer camp type of thing, give us a way to make the Mammal Study merit Badge , and Nature Study, and...

= No, Mr. T, I don't think they mean those outdoor types, they mean the electronic and building type. Like Welding, and Metalwork and Electricity and Electronics and Robotics and...=

There's a Robotics badge?

= Yeah! and Medicine and ...=

Ah! Mr. Q. , our principal, welcome, sir to our class...

> Yes, I overheard your discussion . Well, can't a Scout earn these badges if they want to? I seem to remember that the Scout was supposed to pick a topic, find a Counselor and work with that counselor to earn the badge. Why do we need a special "college" or "camp"?

Oh, I'm sorry. There's the bell. I'll see you all next week. Don't forget the homework assignment, to read the Handbook for Boys, 1952 edition for the Heritage Merit Badge... S'long....

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The newer STEM initiatives in Boy Scout and Cub Scout programs (the STEM/NOVA Awards' date=' new merit badges such as Robotics, Programming, Digital Technology, Geocaching, etc.) are, in my opinion, welcomed additions that help keep the program current (as long as they don't totally replace the outdoor skills part of the program).... ;)[/quote']

 

Or, the STEM initiatives are just more hoops to jump through for already busy scouters.

They exist because someone is pumping $$ into the education system to make it so.

 

STEMscouts is adult driven. Which patrol ever said "Hey, let's meet to refine that Laplace transformation?" {crickets}

That's not a negative thing, it just highlights that there is a specific need in a community that is not seeing its educational needs being served by its Boy Scout Troop ... most likely because in the sciences we are making up for years of barriers to women and minorities. And, BSA knows something about flexible organizational structures and making the principles of the Oath and Law come alive in different contexts. So, yes, for the sake of many communities where it's a rare youth who sees him/herself in a STEM carrer, scouters have an obligation to use their program-building skills to meet that need.

 

But what about the STEM initiative infiltrating troop/pack life? It's just propoganda to convince parents that what we do for boys as a matter of course will prepare them for 21st century success. Without hearing that acronym, our troop has cranked out as many engineers as it has firemen, mechanics, or soldiers. It is starting to produce a few programmers, etc ... (Oddly, no doctors or nurses ... one PhD physical therapist though.)

IMHO, what troops need to do is be on the prowl for counselors in those science-based MBs, and every month or so invite a counselor to come in and speak on his career/hobby (either at the meeting, or a campsite, or the counselor's work place). Have the boys rank the MBs they want to hear about, and go down the list making calls to line up guests or arrange activities. This should be the routine. And, it should be as organic as Trail to First Class. ... Like a more functional example of SSScout's dialogue. :cool:

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"The Mid-Iowa Council, BSA STEM action committee is excited in your interest in this event. It is a unique opportunity for the Ankeny School District and the Boy Scouts of America to work in tande m within the community. At the event we will also have information about a potential new Ankeny STEM Club that would do STEM activities once a quarter. We hope that you and your child are planning to attend to learn more about the growth of S.T.E.M. programs and education in our community."

Exporing STEM in Ankenny

March 7, 2015

http://www.ankenyschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/694384/File/Announcements%20Docs/STEM%203.7.2015.pdf

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"The Mid-Iowa Council' date=' BSA STEM action committee is excited in your interest in this event. It is a unique opportunity for the Ankeny School District and the Boy Scouts of America to work in tande m within the community. At the event we will also have information about a potential new Ankeny STEM Club that would do STEM activities once a quarter. We hope that you and your child are planning to attend to learn more about the growth of S.T.E.M. programs and education in our community."[/i']

Exporing STEM in Ankenny

March 7, 2015

http://www.ankenyschools.org/modules...203.7.2015.pdf

 

Don't tell Merlyn

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Or, the STEM initiatives are just more hoops to jump through for already busy scouters.

If you feel the STEM initiates (with the introduction of such merit badges as Programming, Robotics, Multimedia, Digital Technology, etc.) are "just more hoops to jump through" and that their inclusion in the program is an unnecessary burden on "busy Scouters" then how do you feel about all the farming initiatives (with merit badges such as Farm Mechanics, Animal Science, Plant Science, Gardening, Veterinary Medicine, etc.) or the business skills initiatives (with merit badges such as American Business, American Labor, Salesmanship, Entrepreneurship, etc.) or the transportation initiatives (with merit badges such as Aviation, Railroading, Truck Transportation)? Are they all existing "hoops to jump through"? Are they just busywork added by industries with their own agendas to promote and have unnecessarily overloaded Scouters? I don't see how making the program more well-rounded and more up-to-date is a bad thing! How is having a Programming merit badge or a robotics summer camp any more of a misstep then having a Dentistry merit badge or a search & rescue summer camp?

 

I also disagree that STEM Scouts is totally adult driven. I know plenty of youth that would be interested in joining a youth organization that spends it's time building robots; designing, and creating websites or video games; exploring environmental sustainability issues and competing in science fairs; producing digital multi-media content; using and developing trade skills (such as welding or mechanics); etc... There are probably just as many (if not possibly more) youth that would be interested in that program as there are kids interested in a youth organization that focuses on camping, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, fire building, and knot-tying.

 

I will admit that "STEM" is a bit of a "buzzword" these days. It is occasionally slapped on things as a marketing ploy or a way to seem "current" without being backed by any real or worthwhile content (having a "science day" where you mix baking soda and vinegar in a paper-mache diorama may look cool but it does not teach much about geologic processes or how volcanoes work). But the STEM initiates being introduced to the BSA aren't just fluff - they are worthwhile, include real skills, and kids enjoy them.

 

BSA had STEM programs long before STEM was even an antonym (with merit badges such as Electronics, Computers, Space Exploration, Chemistry, Nuclear Science, Surveying, etc.). They're just branding and focusing it now. Science and technology are growing fields of interest for youth, and are life skills that they need to have, and careers that they should be encouraged to explore. I think it's great that BSA isn't just staying stuck on 1910 methods and are offering programs and exploring methods to deliver their aims in a way that is connected to skills and subjects that are relevant in the 21st century.

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Don't get me wrong, I think the elective MB program is terrific for a boy. If you can encourage your boys to each pick one elective to work on outside of camp and a couple in camp every year, you'll be doing right by them. "Hey son. Earn some badges. Sucker your troop into participating in some of them. I'll find you counselors." That's what I do.

 

As far as my contribution to STEM, sometimes I bring my work with me camping. Then I'll show the boys some of the analyses I'm working on or writing up. We get deep into scientific method, ethics, experimental design, and statistics.

 

But, given a choice between introducing the boys to our latest MB counselor in whatever program the boys are designing versus promoting one more top-down scheme. I'll choose the former. I'll encourage the adults to do the same.

 

Caveat: I'm in a school district that sends a lot of its students to college. Their math and sciences are quite good. If that wasn't the case, maybe I'd be a little more pro-active, tell the boys to read http://www.scouting.org/stem/Awards/BoyScouts.aspx, and let me know if any of them would like to try it. If they give the go-ahead, I'll find them a mentor. If I were in a community where the youth lacked any vision of their role in the sciences AND other adults were doing a bang-up job with the outdoor program, I might consider being a STEM mentor.

 

Finally, let me clarify my understanding of "youth driven": a unit comes up with a program, finds out that other troops want to imitate it, and make a proposal to national. An example would be the recent "Honor Guard" position. It may not meet some national imperative, and the way it's being implemented irritates the tar out of adults who want there to be a laundry list of requirements and qualifications, but it captures the vision of the boys of troop 944 and writes it large! I assert that STEM, on the other hand, is "adult driven" ... very thoughtful adults who may be on to something ... but adult nonetheless. Name the youth advisory board for the STEM awards, and I'll retract my assertion.

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Those that refuse to face the future, will simply recede into the past. STEM has parts that can take the scouts outdoors. Science is still based on nature and its myriad natural functions, many of which can only be truly experienced in the field. Instead of constantly crying how "outing" is being taken out of scouting, try announcing how STEM is being taken along with "outing", and moving forward.

 

There is really no reason for all the "chicken little" blather, except that some REFUSE to see that half full glass, but focus instead on it being half empty. Go out and find minerals and field test them for identity. Go out on flower hikes and use modern technology to help determine their variation and so on. Go on an animal hike and snap photos of them in their natural habitats and take pics of footprints and so on. Go on a landform hike and identify them in their natural state. Then take the raw data back to the STEM labs and improve the overall knowledge.

 

Or, get the lab rats to build you a retro time machine and go back and live in the past where everything was so much simpler.

Your comments here betray a basic ignorance of why Scouting was created, why it uses the outdoors, and therefore what it is.

 

Scouting is a direct reaction against modernization. Scouting is a direct reaction against modernization. Scouting is a direct reaction against modernization.

Scouting's forerunnersâ€â€The Woodcraft Indians, the Sons of Daniel Boone, the Wandervogel, YMCA campsâ€â€are direct reactions against modernization.

That is why we take boys into the woods. To combat the effects of urban living: Sloth, poor health, moral decay, child labor. To combat the ill effects of modern conveniences.

 

Your picture of STEM a la outdoors is just that: A picture, a fiction. It is not what STEM Scouts is, and it is not BSA's picture of STEM, so it has no bearing on the discussion here.

 

Skip the time machine and hop in your car to the local library where you can check out The Scouting Party: Pioneering and Preservation, Progressivism and Preparedness in the Making of the Boy Scouts of America and gain a sufficient understanding of what the BSA is before you jump to throw out the program that was designed in a specific way for a specific reason and has worked for over 100 years despite your myopic, faddish insistence that as a retrograde outdoors program in the era of Tesla and Edison it should have "receded into the past" 5 seconds after it was created.

 

Everything should be just fine. Something new to get kids more interested in the scout program. How can that be a bad thing? Cub packs are folding left and right around my area. Thanks to the "decision", my son and other boys are called gay, or faggots at school if they discuss scouting openly. Without cubs to refresh the troops, the troops will likely follow. We need something to put a more modern face on the organization.

Are you being funny, or do you really think that the best way to stop kids from calling Scouts faggots is to put them in lab coats and goggles?

 

If you feel the STEM initiates (with the introduction of such merit badges as Programming, Robotics, Multimedia, Digital Technology, etc.) are "just more hoops to jump through" and that their inclusion in the program is an unnecessary burden on "busy Scouters" then how do you feel about all the farming initiatives (with merit badges such as Farm Mechanics, Animal Science, Plant Science, Gardening, Veterinary Medicine, etc.) or the business skills initiatives (with merit badges such as American Business, American Labor, Salesmanship, Entrepreneurship, etc.) or the transportation initiatives (with merit badges such as Aviation, Railroading, Truck Transportation)? Are they all existing "hoops to jump through"? Are they just busywork added by industries with their own agendas to promote and have unnecessarily overloaded Scouters? I don't see how making the program more well-rounded and more up-to-date is a bad thing! How is having a Programming merit badge or a robotics summer camp any more of a misstep then having a Dentistry merit badge or a search & rescue summer camp?

 

I also disagree that STEM Scouts is totally adult driven. I know plenty of youth that would be interested in joining a youth organization that spends it's time building robots; designing, and creating websites or video games; exploring environmental sustainability issues and competing in science fairs; producing digital multi-media content; using and developing trade skills (such as welding or mechanics); etc... There are probably just as many (if not possibly more) youth that would be interested in that program as there are kids interested in a youth organization that focuses on camping, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, fire building, and knot-tying.

 

I will admit that "STEM" is a bit of a "buzzword" these days. It is occasionally slapped on things as a marketing ploy or a way to seem "current" without being backed by any real or worthwhile content (having a "science day" where you mix baking soda and vinegar in a paper-mache diorama may look cool but it does not teach much about geologic processes or how volcanoes work). But the STEM initiates being introduced to the BSA aren't just fluff - they are worthwhile, include real skills, and kids enjoy them.

 

BSA had STEM programs long before STEM was even an antonym (with merit badges such as Electronics, Computers, Space Exploration, Chemistry, Nuclear Science, Surveying, etc.). They're just branding and focusing it now. Science and technology are growing fields of interest for youth, and are life skills that they need to have, and careers that they should be encouraged to explore. I think it's great that BSA isn't just staying stuck on 1910 methods and are offering programs and exploring methods to deliver their aims in a way that is connected to skills and subjects that are relevant in the 21st century.

 

Responding to STEM Scouts by arguing along the lines of the MB program is intellectually dishonest and you know it. And if MBs are enough, then we have enough STEM MBs and no need for STEM Scouts. The boys who want to do them can do them from a regular troop.

 

In either case, you, like skeptic, seem not to misunderstand what Scouting is. It is not a career prep program, that's why Explorers exists as a separate venture.

It is not a modernity relevance program, or else it was already a failure in 1910.

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In either case, you, like skeptic, seem not to misunderstand what Scouting is. It is not a career prep program, that's why Explorers exists as a separate venture.

 

Maybe I was unclear. I do not think Boy Scouts is a career prep program... although career and hobby exploration through the merit badge program has been a part of Scouting for quite some time.

 

The Boy Scout program is not a career prep program, that's why Explorers exists as a separate venture. Explorers focus on career-based activities; although Boy Scouts can have some career exploration through the merit badge program.

 

And the Boy Scout program is not a math & science club, that's why STEM Scouts exists as a separate venture. STEM Scouts focus on science and technology activities; although Boy Scouts can have some STEM exploration through the merit badge program.

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Scouter99 -- I tried to make your point a day or two ago but it wouldn't stick to the server. (Great advertisement for STEM, huh?) I'm fine with the new rash of merit badges. Bring them on. I'd be fine if there were 500 MBs. Last time I checked only about 10% are required, and the rest electives. If a Scout wants all nine of his elective badges to be STEM related, I'm okay there too.

 

Matthew -- your point about the "farming initiative" from years past make my point. Everything you mentioned was merit badge based. No separate "Farm Scout" program to maintain. I imagine troops in Iowa took greater advantage of the farming MBs than units in Detroit, Cleveland or Pittsburgh. And let's not forget Farm Layout, Citrus Fruit Culture, Corn Farming, and Hog Production have all gone away. Roll with the times, as they say.

 

I question the wisdom of councils (I don't really care what National does) starting to allocate money and staff to these programs to the exclusion of traditional programs. In our area, most councils are backing off from the old Learning For Life programs already. They never caught on and were largely dependent on schools for implementation. I don't know why we're going back there. My only guess is someone seems to think there is money in it. I can see National getting money from big corporate sponsors like AT&T, but I don't really see local councils being able to attract the dollars the program will require. Too much competition already.

 

BSA should stick to the knitting.

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Matthew -- your point about the "farming initiative" from years past make my point. Everything you mentioned was merit badge based. No separate "Farm Scout" program to maintain.

So are you saying the BSA shouldn't maintain a separate "Sea Scouts" program because they already have sailing and aquatics-based merit badges and opportunities in Boy Scouts?

 

Should the BSA scrap the separate "Varsity Scouts" program because they already have sports-based merit badges and high adventure options available through the Boy Scouts?

 

And what's the point of maintaining a separate "Explorers" program when we already have career exploration opportunities through the Boy Scout merit badge program?

 

I don't see the harm in having STEM Scouts (or "Farm Scouts" or "Business Scouts" or "Sea Scouts" or "Air Scouts" or "Drama Scouts" or whatever) in addition to traditional Scouting.

 

I question the wisdom of councils starting to allocate money and staff to these programs to the exclusion of traditional programs.

I'll agree with you there. As I said above, STEM Scouts should be in addition to traditional Boy Scouts (not in place of it or to the detriment of it). If a council can't balance it's programs and they start to neglect key programs or disproportionately support others, then that's a problem. And shame on the Scout Executive for not prioritizing and seeing the "big picture" when it comes to managing people/time/money/resources.

 

But if a council is able to adequately support Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and Venturing and Sea Scouts and Varsity Scouts and Explorers and the Order of the Arrow and summer camps and day camps and also balance STEM Scouts in there too, why stop them?

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For me, this is Learning for Life under a different name. Me personally, they need to get rid of the "Scouts" in STEM Scouts and there is no OUT inthe program, only classrooms and labs.

 

 

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So, Matthew, let us start where we agree. How many councils are flush with cash, feel like their traditional programs are fully funded, their camps well maintained and are looking for a place to park all that extra cash? No, I don't either. What do you bet these pilot programs come with grant money to run them or at least plenty of support from Texas?

 

Venturing is part of the traditional Scouting program. It's purpose is to deliver a traditional Scouting program to older youth. Exploring began that way, but was somewhat supplanted by Venturing. When our membership policies became a point of contention for the numerous government-based Exploring CO, it was moved to the Learning for Life program to avoid losing all those unit. Absent that history, most Explorer post could easily become Venture crew specializing in a particular career field. And yes, if Exploring were proposed today as a separate LFL program, I would not favor that either.

 

Our council has zero Varsity teams and one Sea Scout ship. To my knowledge, there are no council resources spent in support of the ship, other than the same resources which go into chartering any other unit. But look at the LFL program, it had it's own professional, most programs were staffed by paid paraprofessionals and the council picked up the registration fee for most of it's members. I'm glad to see it go. My concern is that, not volunteer-based programming, tends to be the model for these national "initiatives".

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A few years back my council went on a big Venturing kick. The program was newer and not very big or popular in the council. So they hired a professional to focus solely on Venturing; there were tons of meetings and committees formed; troops were coerced into creating crews and getting the "older boy" patrols and ASMs to populate them, they existed mainly on paper and only did one or two activities before slowly slipping back into the troops and dying out after a few months; the council and districts orchestrated all sorts of special Venturing events (many of which were called off at the last minute due to low registration); they re-outfitting their camp for Venturing (buying pistols for shooting sports, expanding the female shower house to be equal to the boys showers in size, and investing in other Venturing-only program supplies)... they even dedicated an entire week of their summer camp program to be "Venturing-only" (that week of summer camp had more camp staff on the payroll than campers participating in the program).

 

Thousands of man-hours were invested... and about 30% of the council's program budget was spent on Venturing -- a program that, at the time, served less than 4% of the council's total membership. It was a misstep. Big time! Meanwhile, Cub Scouts (which constituted more than 65% of the council's membership) was getting less than 20% of the council's financial support and less than half of the professional staff's attention (there was no dedicated Cub Scout program professionals, but we had a Venturing one? DE's were split between both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and almost all Cub Scout programs were pushed off onto volunteers with little support from the council).

 

So I agree with you somewhat. If a council goes "all in" on STEM Scouts and starts investing in STEM weekends, and building a robotics lab and science center at their camp, and hires a full-time STEM professional when they only have 2 (or less) STEM Scout unit... well that's the council making poor decisions and the Scout Executive and the Council Executive Board should have their priorities (and heads) examined.

 

However if a council along the coast has 500 registered and active Sea Scouts, well maybe a special Sea Scout camporee or regatta, or event is in order... but if you only have 1 ship, maybe not. Same with STEM. Don't hire a STEM professional, until you have the STEM programs and participants to support the position. Start small, start slow... baby steps. Ease into it, don't just jump in and end up in over your head. Don't disproportionately focus on a program and put the burden of supporting that program onto the backs of other programs that are also in need of the council's support and attention.

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