STEM in a Box, a brilliantly simple approach to facilitating Nova Awards

NOVA-patchTo make facilitating STEM activities easier, some volunteers are thinking outside of the box by, well, thinking inside the box.

Greater St. Louis Area Council volunteers Ron and Teresa Colletti developed their “STEM in a Box” approach to facilitating Nova Awards for their Scouts.

The concept is simple: Everything you need to help Scouts earn a Nova Award fits into one big plastic tub. I see three benefits to the STEM in a Box approach:

  1. Transporting the materials is easier, and you’re less likely to forget an essential item.
  2. You can easily be ready to deliver a fun STEM program at a moment’s notice.
  3. When it’s time for you to move on — perhaps when moving from Cub Scouting to Boy Scouting — you can hand the STEM in a Box to your successor.

So, what’s in the box?

Richard Stone, the education and training leader of the STEM/Nova Committee who has contributed to other STEM posts on my blog, shares an example of how STEM in a Box would work with Cub Scouting’s 1-2-3 Go! Nova Award.

STEM in a Box: 1-2-3 Go! Nova Award

Here’s what’s inside Richard Stone’s STEM in a Box for 1-2-3 Go!

In a large plastic tub, he includes

  • Nova Award handbooks
  • Lesson plan, several copies (for helpers if you can get them)
  • Worksheets, for each Scout to take notes and work calculations
  • Completion forms (for recording partials and completions, replace when BSA has their version)
  • Pens, two boxes (since several of the pens don’t come back)
  • Bathroom scale, mechanical
  • Calculators, four function, solar powered
  • Tape measures, 25 feet
  • Yard sticks
  • Hand mirror (used in one method for finding height of tree)
  • Caesar cypher code wheel, properly made before the meeting
  • Caesar cypher code wheels, printed on card stock
  • Scissors, safety
  • One-hole punch
  • Brads, one box

For requirement 1, the Scout must watch one hour of video (or read or both) about how math is used. Richard has found 15 very short videos, mostly on YouTube, illustrating different uses of math, how to measure the height of a tree, the weight of a person on the moon, math in career opportunities, etc.

So if he’s going to show those videos, he adds these items to his STEM in a Box:

  • Laptop computer, mouse, power cables, etc. as required
  • Video projector, power cables, video cables, etc.
  • Extension cords, power strips, as required
  • Speakers, with cables or Bluetooth as required
  • Projection screen or light colored wall (if not provided locally)
  • Table (if not provided locally)
  • Internet access, WiFi or his cellphone set up as a hotspot

“And, since I am showing videos from the Internet,” Richard adds, “I must check before each session that all of the videos are still available and that the Internet connection is working.”

Final thoughts from Richard

“As a counselor, you should make your STEM in a Box with what you need to present the Nova Award activities and keep it ready to go,” he says. “Or your unit’s STEM/Nova Coordinator can make a STEM in a Box for each of the Nova Awards. Remember to inventory the contents and replenish the supplies after each use.

“You know, this long list is just another way of saying: ‘Be Prepared.'”

About the Nova Awards

Pi Nova deviceThere 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.

With their first Nova Award, Scouts or Venturers earn the multipoint Nova Award patch (seen at the top of this post). With their second, third or fourth Nova Award, they get a triangle-shaped pi device that attaches to the patch (seen at right).

Learn more about the Nova Awards program here and see all the requirements here.

See also

Here’s how Cub Scouts will earn Nova Awards under the new program

About Bryan Wendell 3269 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.