By Darryl Alder
Dec 28, 2015

Integrating STEM into Your Units’ Programs

Stem ScoutsBy now most Scouters know that BSA has a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiative. Like Learning for Life, STEM Scouts is a stand alone program, but rather than teach character this program offers girls and boys the chance to experience science, technology, engineering and math through creative, hands-on activities, field trips and interaction with STEM professionals. However there is no reason your crew, team and troop can’t enjoy the benefits of STEM Scouting too.

While it has become an increasingly hot topic in recent years, the BSA has been engaged in STEM-like activities right from the start, more than 100 years ago (see Conservation and Scouting). Many of Scouting’s core outdoor, conservation, and merit badge activities relate to STEM topics. For example:

  • The BSA’s outdoor nature and conservation programs focus on environmental, geological, or life science STEM topics.
  • Pioneering uses many engineering concepts. Math is also used to calculate heights, lengths and construction strengths.
  • StemBeginning in January, half of the service hours for Life rank will to need to be conservation related.
  • Merit badges offer many avocational and career activities that expose Scouts to a variety of STEM opportunities, from firefighting to aerospace to medical science. Nearly one of every three has some aspect of STEM in it. Just look at this list:
American Business
Chess
Archery
Astronomy
Athletics
Automotive Maintenance
Bird Study
Canoeing
Composite Materials
Computers
Cycling
Digital Technology
Drafting
Electricity
Entrepreneurship
Environmental Science
Energy
Farm Mechanics
Fish and Wildlife Management Forestry
Game Design
Gardening
Geocaching
Geology
Insect Study
Kayaking
Mammal Study
Mining in Society
Model Design and Building
Motorboating
Nature
Nuclear Science
Oceanography
Orienteering
Personal Management
Plant Science
Programming
Pulp and Paper
Radio
Railroading
Reptile and Amphibian Study
Rifle Shooting
Robotics
Scuba Diving
Shotgun Shooting
Signs, SIgnals and Codes
Small-Boat Sailing
Soil and Water Conservation
Space Exploration
Sustainability
Surveying
Truck Transportation
Weather
Welding
  • NOVA STEM in ScoutingThe BSA has developed the Nova Awards program to encourage youth with particular interests in STEM pursuits to further explore these subjects.
    • The award offers four parts, one for each element of STEM.
    • Recognition includes the Nova Award patch and separate pi (π) devices that attach to the patch.
    • Scouts can also pursue the Supernova Award, which has more rigorous requirements, designed to motivate youth and recognize more in-depth, advanced achievement in STEM–related activities.
  • The wide variety of STEM–related activities makes this an easy program element to incorporate into a unit plan.

The most important aspect of the STEM program is having fun while exploring topics that interest your Venturers, Varsity Scouts or Boy Scouts.

As you examine your calendar to plan the year include all these resources. Consider the merit badges listed above and your local resources, and who knows, your unit may become a laboratory for budding scientists, engineers and mathematicians. Then be sure sure to tell us about it in the comment section.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAuthor: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. B2Y by FOS Final

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