Why every Scout unit needs a STEM Coordinator

Serious about STEM? Then you need a Unit STEM Coordinator.

This adult position is the point of contact for all Scouts in the pack, troop or crew to help promote and deliver STEM programs in the unit.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. And it’s important.

The U.S. Department of Commerce says STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.

Empowering an adult volunteer to serve as Unit STEM Coordinator will help your Scouts develop skills that could one day land them high-paying, exciting jobs in fields that are actually hiring.

So a STEM Coordinator is important, but are you the man or woman for the job? If not you, then who?

Let’s hear from Teresa and Ron Colletti, members of the BSA National STEM/Nova Committee. Richard Stone, the education and training leader of the STEM/Nova Committee who has contributed to other STEM posts on my blog, offers his wisdom, too.

Every Unit Needs a STEM Coordinator

Job Description

The specific job responsibilities can be flexible depending on Unit needs but typically involve:

  • Be knowledgeable of the Nova Awards program
  • Promote the Nova Awards program at Unit meetings to the Scouts and parents/leaders
  • Help Scouts with ideas on how they can earn the Nova and Supernova awards
  • Work with leaders (youth and adults) to add fun STEM activities to meetings and outings or STEM Moments
  • Be aware of all STEM and Nova activities offered by local, regional and national Scouting organizations
  • Be aware of STEM programs offered by local non-Scouting partner organizations
  • Connect youth with a Nova counselor or Supernova Mentor

This may require:

  • Contacting the local council to see who is registered as Nova Counselors and Supernova Mentors
  • Recruiting Nova Counselors and Supernova Mentors as needed
  • Ensuring Nova Counselors and Supernova Mentors are properly registered and trained
  • Serving as the unit contact person for all things STEM related

Qualifications

The Unit STEM Coordinator must be registered as a member of the unit committee and must be current in Youth Protection training. The coordinator need not be a STEM expert, although comfort with STEM material would be helpful.

How to Get Started

The unit committee should select a qualified, available and interested adult. Remember that every family should have a role in the unit committee, so there are many candidates to chose from. Have a friend, colleague or fellow unit adult describe the job and approach the candidate.

Once on board, the STEM Coordinator should learn as much as he or she can about the Nova program. Attending a Nova training course held at a Pow Wow, Scouting U, or other training event would be a great way to learn about the Nova Awards program and to find some local STEM program resources.

Or take BSA’s online training if no training is available locally. Learn about what it’s like to be a Nova Counselor. You will need to recruit some, and you might want to become one.

Related post: How you can be a Nova counselor

Next Steps

The STEM Coordinator will work with the youth and adult leadership of the unit to integrate STEM and Nova activities into the program. Here’s how:

  • Represent STEM when building the Annual Program Plan.
  • Offer ways to integrate Nova award activities into the program.
  • Offer the STEM programs of local partner organizations.
  • Learn about the STEM activities offered in the district and council.
  • Consider whether Novas are available at day camp or summer camp. Is there a STEM camporee coming?
  • Learn about STEM activities offered by local partner organizations. Many schools, museums, government organizations, professional societies and business groups offer STEM activities, and we have the participants. For example, the American Chemical Society offers a Kids ‘n’ Chemistry program and will supply trained professionals to lead hands-on experiments at a meeting.
  • Learn about STEM programs offered by BSA, such as STEM treks at the national high-adventure bases. Share these opportunities with the Scouts and leaders and encourage participation. For example: There are training courses for adult leaders at Philmont Training Center and Sea Base.

Success Stories

Collettis-photoTeresa Colletti was a Unit STEM Coordinator with a Cub Scout pack for more than two years, working to incorporate STEM into the pack’s program. The pack had several den and pack meetings with STEM as the focus.

The Scouts and leaders enjoyed STEM so much they have made it a regular part of their program. She promoted several council STEM days and STEM camp and was also a Nova counselor and Supernova mentor. During that time, her Cub Scouts earned nearly 50 Nova awards (some Cubs earned several) and eight Supernova awards.

Ron Colletti is now the Unit STEM Coordinator for a Boy Scout troop. In only five months, the Scouts have begun to integrate STEM activities in their troop meetings and campouts. Several Scouts are working on Nova awards and plan to earn Supernova awards.

“Good job, Teresa and Ron!” Richard Stone says.

A Challenge

To sum it up, the STEM Coordinator is an extremely valuable position for delivering STEM program in your unit. It’s a fun position that allows someone to be creative in getting STEM activities to the youth.

More importantly it will give the Scouts the opportunity to have fun with STEM, earn awards and potentially develop an interest that could lead to a successful science career.

Go recruit a Unit STEM Coordinator and have fun with STEM!

For more information check out scouting.org/stem.

About Bryan Wendell 2891 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.