All about the STEM Advancement Program

Your one stop for information about STEM advancement and activities

Program Overview

The Boy Scouts of America's NOVA Awards program incorporates learning with cool activities and exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics for Cub Scouts, Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts. The hope is that the requirements and activities for earning these awards stimulates interest in STEM-related fields and shows how STEM topics 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.

The Nova Awards

Each Nova award covers one component of STEM - science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. For their first Nova award, Scouts earn the distinctive Nova award patch. After that, a Scout can earn three more Nova awards, each one recognized with a separate pi (π) pin-on device that attaches to the patch. The patch and the three devices represent each of the four STEM topics: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Below, you can follow the link for a list of Nova awards and requirements by program-level, as well as request a counselor if your unit does not have a local volunteer.  

Nova Award Requirements

Request a Nova Counselor

Looking to integrate Nova awards into your unit's regular meeting schedule?  Check out the guides below for information and examples on how to conduct your own program:

Cub Scout Packs

Scouts BSA Troops

Venturing Crews/ Sea Scout Ships

The Supernova Awards

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.  Below, you can follow the link for a list of Supernova awards and requirements by program-level, as well as request a mentor if your unit does not have a local volunteer.  

Supernova Award Requirements

Request a Supernova Mentor

STEM Activities

Each year, we host a variety of STEM related activities and Merit Badge days. Some events have an advancement component and some are all about having fun while learning about a STEM topic. Our council hosts some events through the year and many others are hosted by community partners such as businesses and colleges.

To look for the most up-to-date list of events and activities, check out our STEM section on Northern Star Scouting's Stuff to Do page.  Merit Badges are located under the "Merit Badge Series" tab.  

Additional Program Resources

There are countless resources out there for STEM activities to do at the Cub Scout, Scouts BSA, Venturing-levels. These resources range from program outlines to field trip ideas. You can also find a variety of workbooks that have been created for Scouts working through Merit Badges, Adventures, or other advancement. Online search engines are going to be the best tool for finding these resources.

For complete and up to date Nova and Supernova requirements and links to other resources, visit the Boy Scouts of America's STEM website below.  

BSA STEM Website

BECOMING A Nova Counselor

Are you interested in helping your Scouts explore STEM topics, or supplement your unit programming with STEM activites? If so, we need your help in supporting area Scouts seeking to earn Nova awards. Counselors serve as a guide for Scouts pursuing these entry-level STEM awards.  There is no need for a counselor to work in a STEM-related field, but it is asked that counsleors be willing to work with Scouts in exploring the STEM topics covered in the award tracks.  Nova Counselors are registered at the unit-level in a no-fee position. Here are some further details on the steps to become registered: 

  • Must be age 21 or older.
  • Must have current Youth Protection Training. 
  • Must complete the STEM Nova Counselor Learning Plan listed below.   
  • Register as a Supernova Mentor (position code 58, no registration fee) using the BSA Adult Application. 

Nova Counselor Learning Plan (Training)

The learning modules below replace the training that was available through My.Scouting.org.  Each of the modules is a PowerPoint file that can be downloaded, and retained for reference.  

1. What is STEM?

2. STEM Nova and Supernova

3. How to Teach a Nova Award Part 1

4. How to Teach a Nova Award Part 2

BECOMING A SUPERNOVA MENTOR

Are you a subject matter expert in a STEM-related field, such as an engineer, chemist, or medical professional?  If so, we need your help in supporting area Scouts seeking to earn Supernova Awards.  As the next step in the STEM advancement program, Supernova Awards require that Scouts take a deeper dive into specific STEM topics.  With the increased invovlvement of the awards track, we encourage that Supernova Mentors have a strong vocational or avocational background in a STEM field. Supernova Mentors are registered at the council-level, and require the following to be registered:

Supernova Mentor Learning Plan (Training)

The learning modules below replace the training that was available through My.Scouting.org.  Each of the modules is a PowerPoint file that can be downloaded, and retained for reference.  

1. What is STEM?

2. STEM Nova and Supernova

3. How to Teach a Nova Award Part 1

4. How to Teach a Nova Award Part 2

5. Dr. Albert Einstein Supernova Award

2022 Program Updates (FAQ)

Q: What changes are happening to STEM Nova awards?

A: Effective June 1, 2022, local councils will be responsible for administering the STEM Nova awards program.  Councils will be responsible for the approval of awards and ensuring recognition is available for their units. 

Q:  I have a Scout working on a STEM Nova award prior to June 1, 2022.  What do they need to do before June 1st?

A:  Nothing.  There is no change in how the STEM Nova or Supernova awards are earned. The only exception is if an older youth is working on the Dr. Albert Einstein Award. After June 1, the award is sent to the local council for approval – not the national committee.

Q:  Is the information on the STEM Nova awards website current?

A:  To date the information on the STEM Nova awards is current.  Minor edits to the page will be made on June 1, 2022, to reflect the most current and accurate information for all awards.

Q: Some Cub Scout Adventures are no longer available that were part of the options to earn a STEM Nova. How do Cub Scouts earn these STEM Nova awards?

A:  The updated requirements for the Cub Scout STEM Nova awards will be updated on June 1st and posted at https://www.scouting.org/stem-nova-awards/awards/cub-scout/ 

Q:  Will there be new STEM Nova or Supernova Awards released?

A: No.  Only the current STEM Nova and Supernova Awards will be available. 

Q:  Can a local Council create their own STEM Nova or Supernova Awards?

A: No.  Councils may conduct STEM based programs in accordance to the Guide to Safe Scouting and the National Camp Accreditation Program standards.

Q:  How will STEM Nova counselors and Supernova mentors get trained?

A:  Program modules for STEM Nova Counselors and Supernova Mentors will be available here (listed above under learning plans).  Courses will no longer be offered online through ScoutingU via My.Scouting.org.   ​

Contact us

Ben Coder

Activities and STEM Director (General and Program Inquiries)
612-261-2329

Dianne Robinson

Field Assistant (Nova Counselor and Supernova Mentor Registration)
612-261-2370
All about the STEM Advancement Program