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STEM Nova Awards for Cub Scouts

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If it's been more than a year since you last explored the idea of using BSA's STEM-Nova program to build science and technology activities into your pack's program, then you might want to take a fresh look. There have been quite a few updates to the entire STEM-Nova program, including some new awards for Cub Scouts that might not be on  your radar.

About STEM-Nova

The Nova awards inspire curiosity about the sciences that make up our natural world.  For Cub Scouts, the awards are intended for Wolf, Bear and Webelos scouts (not Tigers). 

Requirements
Most Nova awards are straightforward for Cub Scouts and can be easily finished as a single-day activity.

Award requirements vary, but generally, each award will require:

  1. Watching or reading about the sciences that comprise an award.
  2. Completing one or more related advantures, depending on grade level.
  3. Investigating an aspect of the science. Usually, doing some kind of experiment.
  4. Go see it:   A field trip is typically part of each Nova award.  

Changes to the STEM-Nova Program Affecting Cubs

When the Nova program was initially rolled out in 2011, it included four awards for Cub Scouts: Science Everywhere, Tech Talk, Swing!, and 1-2-3 Go!  (corresponding to the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, respectively).

The program continues to evolve and several new Nova awards have been added to the program, particularly in the past year.  As of May 2019, there are now 10 Nova awards that Cub Scouts can earn.  The newer awards, which many scouters may be unaware of,  are:

Down and Dirty - introduces Cub Scouts to the Earth sciences disciplines, including geology, weather, and oceanography. 

Nova Wild -  Learn about wildlife, threats to their existence, and ways efforts to conserve wildlife, their habitats, and natural resources on which their lives depend.

Out of This World - Explore the vast expanses of space as you learn about planets, galaxies, and the vast potential of space exploration and astronomy.

Uncovering the Past - Grab your whip and fedora as you put Indiana Jones to shame, exploring the relics of the past. Learn about Archaeology, Anthropology, and whether or not Jurassic Park is ever likely to become reality.

Cub Scouts Can Code - Its an ever-increasingly digital world we live in. Will you be one of the people bypassed by technology, or one of the people who makes it happen?  Learn how machine logic works as you investigate how to program devices yourself.

Fearful Symmetry - Patterns, balance and meaning, in nature and in human creation. What does it all mean? Can we create it or do we simply observe it?

Info about STEM Nova awards for Cub Scouts:
https://www.scouting.org/stem-nova-awards/awards/cub-scout/ 

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This is a wonderful reward system that promotes both science and the Scouts.  Your Scout can earn this by simply being a Scout and earning belt loops or pins, and it let's them know their attraction toward science is appreciated.

Every pack should work to put this in their program. 

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This program also awakens some to the possibility of pursuing a career in science.

Have you ever heard someone say, "Man, there are way too many scientists here"?  No?  Neither have I.

There are many tools we can give the children to better themselves, and that is fantastic and should be done, but science is a gift we can give them to better the world.

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18 hours ago, WolfDenRulz said:

This is a wonderful reward system that promotes both science and the Scouts.  Your Scout can earn this by simply being a Scout and earning belt loops or pins, and it let's them know their attraction toward science is appreciated.

Every pack should work to put this in their program. 

Glad to hear that you're encouraging scouts to pursue the Nova awards.

I'd just like to say, though, that there is a bit more to earning the Nova award than "simply being a Scout and earning belt loops and pins".  While completing activities within the normal Advancement process is a required part of every Nova award, there are additional activities that need to be done to earn the award. It's not an instant "gimme".  

At the Cub Scout level, each award requires completing certain "Adventures", then digging a little deeper by reading or watching documentaries, doing experiments or other investigation, and going to visit places where science is being done. These things are all fun though, and it's even more fun when the kids can do them together with their friends as a den.

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On 5/31/2019 at 9:05 AM, mrkstvns said:

Glad to hear that you're encouraging scouts to pursue the Nova awards.

I'd just like to say, though, that there is a bit more to earning the Nova award than "simply being a Scout and earning belt loops and pins".  While completing activities within the normal Advancement process is a required part of every Nova award, there are additional activities that need to be done to earn the award. It's not an instant "gimme".  

At the Cub Scout level, each award requires completing certain "Adventures", then digging a little deeper by reading or watching documentaries, doing experiments or other investigation, and going to visit places where science is being done. These things are all fun though, and it's even more fun when the kids can do them together with their friends as a den.

Yes, you are correct for a Boy Scout, but I was referring to a Cub.  My mistake.

Edited by WolfDenRulz

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Just now, WolfDenRulz said:

Yes, you are correct for a Boy Scout, but I was referring to a Cub.  My mistake/

No, I'm referring to the Cub Scout NOVA program.

If the leaders in your unit aren't doing all of the things I described, they're not following BSA's requirements (even in spirit) and they're denying your kids the opportunity for meaningful STEM experience appropriate to their age.

Don't take my word for it, though.  Visit the official BSA pages that define the NOVA program *FOR CUBS*:
https://www.scouting.org/stem-nova-awards/awards/cub-scout/ 

 

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1 minute ago, mrkstvns said:

No, I'm referring to the Cub Scout NOVA program.

If the leaders in your unit aren't doing all of the things I described, they're not following BSA's requirements (even in spirit) and they're denying your kids the opportunity for meaningful STEM experience appropriate to their age.

Don't take my word for it, though.  Visit the official BSA pages that define the NOVA program *FOR CUBS*:
https://www.scouting.org/stem-nova-awards/awards/cub-scout/ 

 

Thank you for giving me this information, but I am sorry that I still don't understand.  I see what loops are needed, and they give alternative exercises, but nothing that says a Scout can't earn it from getting the proper loops.  I am not trying to be difficult, just wanting to know more.  I thank you again.

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25 minutes ago, WolfDenRulz said:

Thank you for giving me this information, but I am sorry that I still don't understand.  I see what loops are needed, and they give alternative exercises, but nothing that says a Scout can't earn it from getting the proper loops.  I am not trying to be difficult, just wanting to know more.  I thank you again.

No problem, let's look at one of the NOVA awards as an example (they all work the same way at the same scouting level). Work through the mechanics of an award and you'll see how the NOVA differs from earning "the proper loops":

  1. Visit BSA's Cub Scout NOVA page:  https://www.scouting.org/stem-nova-awards/awards/cub-scout/  
  2. Click one award to see the specific requirements.  Let's choose "Tech Talk" as a representative example.
  3. Notice that Requirement 2 specifies specific "Adventures" for different Cub Scout rank levels (Wolf, Bear, Webelos --- Tigers are generally not supposed to work on NOVA awards).  In the past, these referred to belt loops and pins that needed to be earned, but the current Cub Scout Advancement program uses "Adventures", so that's what the current NOVA program requires.  
  4. Each NOVA award has 5 to 6 requirements. Only requirement 2 of each award can be satisfied by simply earning recognition via the normal Advancement program (e.g., "earning the proper loops").
  5. Requirement 1 requires the scout to watch documentaries, read books, or both. That may or probably won't have any relationship to Adventures (or belt loops or pins).
  6. Requirement 4 requires the scout to go visit a place where technology is being used. Again, not necessarily any part of the requirements for a rank advancement.
  7. Requirements 3, 5, and maybe 6, work the same way. They're "above and beyond" the belt loop, pin, or adventure requirements outlined in your Cub Scout Handbook for the appropriate rank level.

 

Edited by mrkstvns

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3 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

No problem, let's look at one of the NOVA awards as an example (they all work the same way at the same scouting level). Work through the mechanics of an award and you'll see how the NOVA differs from earning "the proper loops":

  1. Visit BSA's Cub Scout NOVA page:  https://www.scouting.org/stem-nova-awards/awards/cub-scout/  
  2. Click one award to see the specific requirements.  Let's choose "Tech Talk" as a representative example.
  3. Notice that Requirement 2 specifies specific "Adventures" for different Cub Scout rank levels (Wolf, Bear, Webelos --- Tigers are generally not supposed to work on NOVA awards).  In the past, these referred to belt loops and pins that needed to be earned, but the current Cub Scout Advancement program uses "Adventures", so that's what the current NOVA program requires.  
  4. Each NOVA award has 5 to 6 requirements. Only requirement 2 of each award can be satisfied by simply earning recognition via the normal Advancement program (e.g., "earning the proper loops").
  5. Requirement 1 requires the scout to watch documentaries, read books, or both. That may or probably won't have any relationship to Adventures (or belt loops or pins).
  6. Requirement 4 requires the scout to go visit a place where technology is being used. Again, not necessarily any part of the requirements for a rank advancement.
  7. Requirements 3, 5, and maybe 6, work the same way. They're "above and beyond" the belt loop, pin, or adventure requirements outlined in your Cub Scout Handbook for the appropriate rank level.

 

Thank you, and very cool requirements, but may I assume that school work is accepted?

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9 minutes ago, WolfDenRulz said:

Thank you, and very cool requirements, but may I assume that school work is accepted?

That will be a judgment call by  your local Nova Counselor (or Supernova Mentor).  If the school work is on point and the scout understands whatever the crux of the requirement might be, then yes, it will probably be accepted.  On the other hand, if the den is doing a group activity aimed at completing a Nova award, and the scout is part of the den, then I would expect him to participate in the activity fully regardless of whether he might have done something similar in school.  It just depends.

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1 hour ago, WolfDenRulz said:

Thank you, and very cool requirements, but may I assume that school work is accepted?

Some requirements might be particularly easy to meet via school work. As I look at some of "Act like a scientist" requirements, some of the potential experiments look very similar to things I've seen my kids doing as school projects.

Again, talk to your Nova counselor to ask if they apply. The answer might be "yes"...

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Just thought I'd point out that the Supernova medals are considerably more achievable at the Cub level than they are at the Scout or Venturer levels. (By that, I mean that parents are more likely to be able to competently guide and advise their kids than they will when the subjects get more involved and the requirements more intensive).

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One other good place for the Nova awards is part of Cub Scout Day Camp. Our science and nature person this year for my Day Camp has run through some of the Nova stuff. It gives a cool and different sort of reward for attending day camp. (still will have to follow up with scouts to be sure they do the required reading/watching).

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