Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are considered by many to be the foundation of an advanced society. In many forums - including political, governmental, and academic - the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation's ability to sustain itself. The BSA's STEM initiative gives Scouts and opportunity to explore relevant skills and experiences and to be recognized for their achievements. The aim is to expose youth to new opportunities and help them develop the STEM skills critical for the competitive world marketplace. Learn more about the STEM / Nova program by viewing
STEM / NOVA Program SHAC STEM / NOVA Page STEM NOVA Fast Start STEM Resources
Community STEM Events: Many of our community partners offer STEM merit badge classes and advancement workshops, and other opportunities such as the Science Engineering Fair of Houston. Some of our community partners include: Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, and Sea Scout Base Galveston. Visit our Scout Days page for more information.
Nova and Supernova Awards
The Boy Scouts of America's NOVA Awards program incorporates learning with cool activities and exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics for Scouts of all ages. The hope is that the requirements and activities for earning these awards stimulates interest in STEM-related fields and shows how science, technology, engineering and mathematics apply to everyday living and the world around them. Counselors and mentors help bring this engaging, contemporary, and fun program to life for youth members. There are awards for Cub Scouts, Webelos, Scouts BSA and Venturers. These awards are designed to encourage participation and to increase interest in STEM by making it relevant and fun.
- Cub Scouts: Science Everywhere, Down and Dirty, Nova WILD!, Out of This World, Uncovering the Past, Tech Talk, Cub Scouts Can Code, Swing!, 1-2-3 Go!, and Cub Scout Supernova, Webelos Supernova
- Scouts BSA: Shoot!, Let It Grow!, Splash!, Mendel’s Minions, Start Your Engines, Hello World, Up and Away, Next Big Thing, Whoosh!, and Designed to Crunch, and Supernova Award
- Venturing and Sea Scouts: Launch!, Wade!, What a Life, Power Up, Execute, Something from Nothing, Hang On!, Numbers Don't Lie, and Supernova Award
For their first Nova award, Scouts earn the distinctive Nova award patch. After that, a Scout can earn additional Nova awards, each one recognized with a separate pi (π) pin-on device that attaches to the patch. Nova awards may be repeated provided the activities and adventures/merit badges are different.
The Supernova awards have more rigorous requirements than the Nova awards. The requirements and activities are 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.
The Supernova Award program includes earning certain adventures for Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts and merit badges for Scouts BSA, plus completing additional, more rigorous STEM related requirements. The Venturing requirements are based on more independent achievement and teaching activities. The Supernova Award is designed to encourage and recognize more in-depth achievement in STEM. The Supernova Awards are medals on neck ribbons.
Counselors and Mentors
Nova counselors introduce Scouts to the basic principles of STEM and help them discover how fun and fascinating science, technology, engineering and math can be. Each pack and troop should have at least one counselor, possibly several for more active units. A Nova counselor is required to help a Scout complete the requirements for a Nova award
A Supernova mentor is required to help a Scout complete the Supernova award. Only if a Mentor is willing to work with two or more Scouts on the SUPERNOVA at the same time will the exception of a parent with a STEM background be allowed. Scouters with a STEM background may work with Scouts in their unit and encouraged as well to work outside of their own unit.
Become a STEM NOVA Counselor
- Be at least 21 years old
- Can be a parent or Scout leader
- Be able and willing to work with Scout-age youth
- Be comfortable with high school math and science
- Knowledgeable in a STEM topic(s) and be willing to research STEM topics unfamiliar to you
- Provide current certification in Youth Protection Training (YPT)
- Complete BSA adult registration form (no charge, position code 58)
- Submit Nova Counselor Information to council
- Be approved by council
- Complete Nova Counselor Training (highly recommended; available at University of Scouting or use NOVA Counselor Self Study Guide at Scouting.org)
Become a STEM NOVA Mentor
- Be at least 21 years old
- NOT the parent or unit leader of the Scout (some exceptions)
- Be able and willing to work with Scout-aged youth over many months
- Expert in STEM topic(s) by vocation, hobby, or education
- Provide current certification in Youth Protection Training
- Complete BSA adult registration form (no charge, position code 52)
- Submit Supernova Mentor Information to council
- Be approved by council
- Complete Supernova Mentor Training (required; available at University of Scouting; Supernova Mentor Training Guide at Scouting.org)
Big Cypress STEM Counselors Supernova Mentor Application STEM/Nova Counselor Information Form (SHAC)
Youth Protection Training STEM Orientation Course
Apply to become a STEM NOVA Counselor or Supernova Mentor
STEM NOVA Counselors
STEM NOVA Mentors
Training and Implementing the Program
Local STEM Partners and Resources
Guidebooks and Awards
Instructions on how to implement the awards program and all of the requirements for the award are provided in guidebooks which may either be purchased at the Scout Shop or ordered online via Scoutstuff.org for Cub Scouts (614935), Scouts BSA (614936), and Venturing (614934).
Forms are available for use to track progress toward completion of the awards. See the appropriate STEM/Nova Program Resources webpage: Cub Scouts, Webelos, Scouts BSA and Venturing.
Once any of the awards are earned by Scouts, completion of the award is recorded in internet advancement. For those Scouts who have a completed a Supernova medal, the Supernova Award Application can be downloaded and turned in with the internet advancement printout.
All Nova awards (patches and pins) and Supernova medals and certificates are available for purchase through the Scout Shop, after completion of the appropriate paperwork.
For more information, contact the STEM/Nova coordinator for your unit.