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March 4, 2014 > Scouts discover STEM at the Tech Museum

Scouts discover STEM at the Tech Museum

Submitted By Gretchen Mora

What happens when you get 231 kids and 164 parents together in a museum overnight? Lots of creativity and fun!

On February 15, the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose was the site for a space-themed sleepover of Tri-City Boy and Cub Scouts, their siblings and parents. The kids came to test their skills on projects ranging from building a hovercraft to designing an escape pod for Ewoks. The sleepover was organized by the Mission Peak District of the San Francisco Bay Area Council of Boy Scouts. With the help of museum staff, the kids also designed their own planets, learned about constellations in the night sky and saw the IMAX movie, ÒHidden Universe.Ó The evening ended with everyone bedding down on the upper level of the museum and trying to get to sleep!

The next morning, ÒcampersÓ had breakfast, were allowed to revisit the exhibits in the museum and purchase tickets to visit the Star Wars Exhibit currently on display. According to staff at the Tech Museum, SaturdayÕs event was the largest sleepover ever held there. It was also the first large-scale event held in the Bay Area to promote the new Boy Scouts of America STEM Nova Awards Program. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The BSA STEM Nova Awards Program was designed to ignite the curiosity of boys and girls in the scouting program and to make real and understandable the science and technology behind merit badges and other awards earned throughout their scouting careers. The Nova Awards program has different requirements for Cub, Boy and Venture (co-ed) Scouts within each of the 4 STEM units. Scouts work on understanding how scientists, engineers and mathematicians work with technology in everyday applications by building, designing, and experimenting, guided by a Counselor or Mentor. Each letter a scout completes earns the STEM badge or a piece of ÒPi,Ó a small pin, to go on his/her badge. Scouts can also work on Supernova Awards which encompass more of a research project for which they receive a Supernova Medallion named for pioneers in physics, technology and space exploration.

The San Francisco Bay Area Council of Boy Scouts is planning a large ÒSTEM EncampmentÓ to be held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds on October 10-12. At the Encampment 3,000 boys and girls will be able to complete STEM Nova Award requirements in all four subject areas. There will be shows at the amphitheater based on the STEM subjects, and a large vendor area where companies from around the Bay area showcase and discuss their technology and products with the scouts and parents. The scouts will receive first-hand exposure to companies and professionals in the science fields. This is sure to be a fantastic event for all who attend! If you would like to be a volunteer, or a corporate sponsor, please contact timb@sfbac.org.

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