STEM Activities and Training

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What is STEM?


STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM has been an important buzzword in the education world for quite some time. It should come as no surprise to anyone that our nation is lagging behind in STEM areas. The good news is that the Boy Scouts of America has always incorporated STEM elements into its program. The great news is that in the last few years, the BSA has added new STEM elements to the program, such as robotics and geocaching, and recently has launched a new program of STEM awards for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers.

Your Scouts are able to earn new awards for doing STEM activities! In addition, many of today’s merit badges and belt loops can be used towards these new awards!

STEM Awards

In June 2012, the Boy Scouts of America launched its new program, the STEM Initiative.  This program offers the STEM Nova Awards and STEM Supernova Awards.  Within each Scouting program, there are four parallel Nova Awards available, one in each STEM field.  These awards recognize completion of fun STEM activities.  For those youth who want to take their STEM interests further, BSA offers the Supernova Award, which recognizes completion of independent, more advanced challenges in the STEM fields.

How do I get started?

If your unit is interested in taking part in the new STEM awards programs or you just want to find out how to incorporate more STEM based activities into your unit, here is how to get started.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the overall program structure by viewing the Fast Start STEM Orientation (above). Look in the notes for information above and beyond the slides.
  2. Purchase the Nova Guidebook(s) for the program(s) in which you are interested.  These are available in our local Scout Shop for $2.99 each.  Each guidebook describes the requirements for the Nova Awards and Supernova Awards for that program.  In addition, there are general tips for adult leaders and specific guidance for each award.
  3. Any adult leader can guide the Nova Awards, so if you feel comfortable with the content and with assessing youth on their completion of the requirements, then dive on in.
  4. Be on the lookout for local opportunities for STEM orientations, trainings, and events.
  5. Check back here for news and updates.

How to Become a Nova Counselor?

  1. Complete the STEM leader information sheet
  2. Complete a BSA Adult Application form (Pages 4 and 5 only)
    1. return the form to the Council Service Center in an envelope marked “Attention: STEM Committee”
    2. the position code for NOVA counselor is “58”
    3. Be sure to sign the form on both pages (Criminal Background Check authorization and the application)
    4. Attach proof of current Youth Protection training
    5. Include the STEM leader information sheet
  3. Complete STEM leader training

STEM Resources at RAFT 

Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT) is a non-profit organization that provides training,  idea sheets, activity kits, and surplus craft and project materials to teachers and youth leaders.

To learn more about RAFT, visit

Helpful Links:


If you have questions about STEM programs, please contact Dawna Wolfson at or 408.638.8358.

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