Include STEM activities in your pack or troop’s summer fun

You’ve heard a lot about the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) in Scouting.

So what you need now are some ideas on how to inject STEM-focused activities into your summer Scouting plans.

Richard Stone, who has two degrees in physics and earned his Ph.D. in materials science, is the education and training leader of BSA’s National STEM/Nova Committee.

He wrote this excellent guest post full of great ideas:

Explore STEM while enjoying summer fun

Our guest blogger with the famous Pedro at the 2014 National Annual Meeting.
Our guest blogger with the famous Pedro at the 2014 National Annual Meeting.

What are your plans for summer fun? Going to the beach or pool? Going fishing? Camping? Having a big picnic and cookout?

All Scouts enjoy the adventures and activities of summer even if it’s just chillin’ with their buds.

Many Scouts today also enjoy the challenge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

We use STEM all the time, and many Scouts enjoy exploring these topics in addition to their outdoor adventures.

But here’s an idea: Why not enjoy both? Why not use science to become a better fisherman? There is STEM in outdoor adventures. Let’s find it. Let’s explore it.

Here are some ideas, can you add to the list?

STEM in Summer

  1. Do fish like colder or warmer water? Where in your fishing area are the warmer or colder waters? Can you catch more fish there?
  2. Observe the weather. When is the wind the strongest? From which direction does it normally blow? When do the clouds come, and which types end up making rain?
  3. While swimming, why do you float when you take a deep breath, but you sink when you let it out?
  4. If it’s a cloudy evening, try using an astronomy app to see the constellations.
  5. Measure the height of a tree or a building. (You just earned requirement 3B of the 1-2-3 Go! Nova Award for Cubs and Webelos.)
  6. Go geocaching. While hiking toward the cache, talk about mathematics used to calculate the position of the GPS unit with distance measurements from the satellites.
  7. Use smartphone cameras to “collect” butterflies, birds, or flowers. Why not record the birdsongs and play them at your next parents night or School Night recruiting event?
  8. Slow oxidation of sugars is how you get that nice golden brown marshmallow for your s’mores. Rapid oxidation is when the marshmallow catches fire. Some people like it that way!

Learning STEM is fun in itself. Exploring the STEM aspects of outdoor activities also enhances the appreciation and enjoyment of those activities. STEM makes everything more fun!

You can do it. Adult leaders don’t have to be rocket scientists or professional engineers to help the Scouts explore STEM. You can do a little research before you go. Team with another adult who may be more familiar with the topic.

Then, be prepared for the opportunity to explore a bit. Ask questions. Provide any information that you may have. Ask the Scouts what they think (or ask them to look it up.). And it’s perfectly OK to say “I don’t know, let’s find out.”

Top photo: Volunteers from Fairmont State University’s engineering department help Scouts understand surveying at the National Jamboree. BSA photo by Shane Noem.

About Bryan Wendell 3140 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.