STEM is for Scouts…and Everyone Else!

Over the past four years, the Old North State Council has introduced a lot of STEM programs and activities for Scouts. We have trained nearly 200 adult volunteers on how to implement the Nova and Supernova awards in their units and we’ve added new programs to our day camps and resident camps. Nearly 1,000 merit badges have been earned at the STEM Merit Badge College and hundreds of Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts have earned their Nova awards.

While we’re incredibly excited about everything going on with STEM for Scouts, we want to highlight the programs we have that welcome those who are NOT Scouts as well. These programs have no emphasis on advancement or badges and they encourage not only creative thinking and problem solving but also provide insight into what’s in store for our youth as they transition into the professional and college worlds.

Young Innovators is a program for young men and women in middle schools. They form a small team of eight to ten and design a project that solves a real world STEM problem. In the 2016-2017 school year, we have one team at Mendenhall Middle School that is designing a biodegradable candy wrapper that will reduce the impact of trash from eating sweet treats. Another team at Graham Middle School (our first all-girl team!) is developing a method of harnessing the energy in algae and putting it to use. These teams are demonstrating an awesome display of ingenuity and imagination to solve real-world problems!

STEM X takes high school-aged young men and women into a resident camp atmosphere where they spend a week immersed in STEM fields like digital design, architecture, zoology, forestry, cinematography, robotics, and energy. The activities they participate in at the camp are hands-on and very interactive but they also leave the camp to visit STEM sites like a nuclear plant, solar farm, High Point University (where they design games and apps!), and architectural sites! While this might seem like a very full week, the youth also get to participate in college night at the camp when several community colleges and universities set up a college fair to show off the STEM programs they have waiting for these students as they get ready to graduate high school. Parents are invited to college night so they can ask all of their questions as well. At the end of the week, participants get the opportunity to join an Explorer Post related to one of these awesome STEM fields so they can continue the excitement throughout the entire school year! STEM X has been highlighted by Scouting Magazine! Check out the article at Empowering Teens for Future STEM Careers.

It’s obvious that STEM has been an awesome addition to Scouting but it is also important to understand that STEM is for everybody, not just Scouts. The importance of STEM is exposing young people to creative thinking, problem solving, imagination, project-based learning, and how to be inquisitive about the world around them. These and many other opportunities await young people of nearly all ages. Check them all out by taking a look at the calendar and all of the programs at www.onscstem.wordpress.com.

Young Innovators is looking for new teams to begin in the fall of 2017. Teams will form and develop their project throughout the school year and compete in May of 2018. STEM X registration for the summer of 2017 has already begun! For more details about STEM X, check out www.bsastemx.org. For questions related to any STEM programs or the STEM initiative in general, feel free to contact Colin Lemon at colin.lemon@scouting.org or (336) 378-9166.

 

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