By Annaleis Smith
Sep 13, 2016

Cub Scout Nova Awards

I recently had two different Cub Scout leaders ask me questions about the Cub Scout Nova Awards.  I admitted to both of them that I really didn’t know very much. I have never awarded it.  However, I also know that for the first time, I do have a boy in my pack working on them (Go Wyatt!). So I set out to learn a little bit more about the Nova awards in general.  What awards are there? How are they earned? And what is actually awarded to the Cub Scout once he has earned it? I’d like to share with you what I found out.

Nova Program Basics

cs-nova-bookThe BSA’s NOVA Awards program incorporates learning with cool activities and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Hopefully, the requirements and activities required while working towards these awards stimulate interest in STEM-related fields and show how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics apply to everyday living and the world around us.

All requirements for each award can be found in the Cub Scout Nova Guidebook available at your nearest Scout Shop (There is one for Cub Scouts, one for Boy Scouts, and one for Venturers). The requirements can be completed with a parent or an adult leader as the counselor (for the Nova awards) or mentor (for the Supernova awards). Each guidebook includes a section for the counselor and mentor.

What awards are there?

This is where I am still a little confused.  I’m not sure if the BSA website needs updating or I am just not understanding this correctly.  When you go to the BSA Nova Awards web page you see this:nova-screen-shot

When you click on the “About the Program” button it tells you “There are four Nova awards for Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers. Each award covers one component of STEM—science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.” However, when you click on the “Cub Scouts” button it actually lists and has requirements for seven awards.  So, I’m not sure if a Cub Scout is only supposed to earn one of the Science ones or if he can actually earn all 7 total.  Personally, I say let him earn as many as he wants. You can get the specifics for each award online and in the guidebook but here they are… (all 7 of them)

The following awards can be earned by a Wolf, Bear or Webelos Scout.

Science Everywhere – is designed to explore how science affects our life each day.

Down and Dirty – Is designed to explore how earth science affects our life each day.

Nova WILD! – is designed to learn about wildlife and the natural world around us.

Out of This World – is designed to discover the wonders of space exploration.

Tech Talk – is designed to explore how technology affects our life each day.

Swing! – is designed to explore how engineering and simple machines called levers affect our life each day.

1-2-3 Go! – is designed to help explore how math affects our life each day.

What is Awarded?

NOVA AwardFor their first Nova award, Scouts earn the Nova patch. After that, a Scout can earn more Nova awards, each one recognized with a separate pi (π) pin-on device that attaches to the patch. According to the BSA, the patch with the three devices represents each of the four STEM topics—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. novapiThe pins are quite small but look like they fit on the points of the patch.

The Supernova Awards


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.

To earn the Supernova Award, a boy must also work with “a council-approved mentor who is a registered Scouter” (who is not his parent or unit leader).  I don’t know how many nova mentors there are in our council but you should be able to ask the Council office for the name of one near you.  There are 2 different Supernova Awards.

Wolf & Bear Cub Scouts: Dr. Louis Alvarez Supernova Award
Webelos Scouts:  Dr. Charles H. Townes Supernova Award

Although it is not a specific requirement, it is recommended that a boy earns at least two of the Nova awards for Cub Scouts before earning the Supernova Awards.  If a boy earned the Cub Scout Supernova award, he must repeat similar requirements while he is a Webelos Scout.

Once a boy completes all the requirements there is a 2-page application to fill out, have signed by the appropriate people and turned in.  Then what a boy actually gets it the medal shown above.


So there you have it—this is what I learned while looking into the Cub Scout Nova Awards.  Hopefully, you too have learned more about the program or at least you now know that it exists and you know where to go to find out more. Looking at the individual requirements for the awards I see lots of fun things for boys to do and lots to learn about. I look forward to awarding my first patch soon.

Annaleis SmithAnnaleis Smith is a “stay-at-home” mom of 5 children and had been a Cub Scout leader for about 13 years now.  She loves Cub Scouts, Roundtable, and Training.  She is currently a cubmaster, assistant roundtable commissioner, unit commissioner and the VP of Membership for the UNPC.

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2 thoughts on “Cub Scout Nova Awards

  1. AvatarS. Allred

    Is there an award card for the Nova patch? Like the Cyberchip etc? I’ve just been putting a sticky note on the patch so I know who to give it to at pack meeting. I guess I could use one of the yellow award cards, but they do say adventure on them. Just curious. I think I was one of the leaders you were talking about!

    1. AvatarLeslie Mounteer

      There is not a card per se, however, because the boys are required to record parts of their work, I like to print out the requirements sheets from one of the many websites that make merit badge type pdfs, and give them the original back when I award the patch/pin (I also keep a copy so that I can gauge what should be expected from different boys, some are more advanced than others). With the Supernova, there is an actual application that I also attach with the packet (after all signatures are filled in) when they receive the award.


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