STEM Overview

STEM stands for Science,Technology, Engineering,and Mathematics. These disciplines are considered by many to be the foundation of an advanced society. In many forums-including political, governmental, and academic-the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation's ability to sustain itself.  

The Boy Scouts of America created a new program initiative that emphasizes STEM in the context of the current advancement programs. BSA's STEM initiative gives Scouts an opportunity to explore relevant skills and experiences and to be recognized for their achievements. The aim is to expose youth to new opportunities and help them develop the STEM skills critical for the competitive world marketplace. 

Why STEM?

We live in a time of great opportunity. The spirit of innovation can help us overcome challenges and ensure a prosperous and secure future. To seize this opportunity, we must position ourselves at the cutting edge of scientific discovery and technological innovation.

Yet our country is falling behind in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is why many professionals and educators in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics believe the United States should do more now than ever to encourage students to enter STEM-related fields. These experts say our young people need strong STEM skills to compete in the world market. We must work together to cultivate the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators.

The BSA's STEM/NOVA Awards program is designed to introduce and encourage further study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) by Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers. A Scout may earn all four Nova awards. The Supernova awards are designed to inspire further study. 


Ten-year employment projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that of the 20 fastest-growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation.

STEM Is the future

Fostering a strong STEM education is our best opportunity to boost the spirit of innovation. It's what we need to help ensure this country continues on a prosperous and secure journey. STEM literacy is also critical because it has a profound and growing impact on our day-to-day lives. Nature, space exploration, and any STEM-related interest reveals to us the beauty and power of the world we inhabit.

What Are the Nova Awards?

The Boy Scouts of America developed the Nova Awards program to excite and expand a sense of wonder in our Scouts. By working with an adult counselor or mentor, the various modules allow them to explore the basic principles of STEM and discover how fun and fascinating STEM can be. The Supernova awards are offered for those who enjoy a super challenge. For more information about STEM and the Nova Awards program, visit www.scouting.org/stem. Discover how the Nova Awards program helps youth be "Prepared. For Life."