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Cub Scout Science Program

We just spent two weeks doing a multi age Nova program for Cubs. We did the space one

I like the idea of the Nova program, we’ve done it two years now, but it has the opposite problem of the regular programs, it’s way too big to the point that Do Your Best means abbreviating the content.

In an hour meeting there’s at most 45 minutes of time available for activities. Two meeting is 10% of the available meeting time in the program year, that’s the most we can take out for the Nova program. With 8 pack meetings and six committee meetings (JTE goals) over 9 months, minus two weeks for christmas break, minus spring break we have 22 weeks for the entire program.

The Nova award we did is
reading/writing (60 minutes)
Binoculars (60 seconds per kid, 8 kids is 8 minutes)
draw a solar system (15 minutes)
draw constellations (10 minutes)
investigate three planets (15 minutes)
draw a moon base (10 minutes)
careers (5 minutes)

That’s 123 minutes of content with 90 minutes to do it.

On top of that, it’s not designed well for the ages it’s targeted to. With 2nd, 3rd and 4th, the award was ok for 4th, reasonable for 3rd and way too advanced for 2nd.

I want more all ages programs for electives but this isn’t it.

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Scouting should be a year-round activity. In Cub Scouts the youth advance to the next den no later than the end of school. Immediately upon advancement to the next den they should begin working on advancement for that next rank. Attending summer camp, the activities they engage in while at camp should count towards completion of rank requirements.

Den meetings should occur all year long, they should have a monthly outdoor activity all 12 months of the year. In fact, BSA encourages this with the National Summertime Pack Award.

Limiting your meetings to nine months of the year is causing you to lose out on one-quarter of the year.

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I hear what you are saying. While we all want electives for all ages, we also want those electives to be age appropriate. Many elective awards have requirements that change based on Rank/Age,many others have the same requirements for all Ranks/Ages, and a few have Rank/Age restrictions. As such the Nova Awards are restricted to only be earned by Ranks/Ages Wolf and above. This is how an effective program offers electives for all ages. It offers diverse electives with varying levels of difficulty.

The Nova Awards are not designed or meant to be be completed in one Den meeting. They are not even designed with group completion in mind. They are meant to be an individually earned award on the Cub Scouts own time and ability. This is one reason Nova Awards use the concept of Counselor instead of Den Leader. I do agree that the Nova Awards can be too challenging for some Wolfs, Bears, etc. due to age, personal ability, and desire to engage in STEM. But there are some Wolfs that are passionate and ready for the Nova Awards.

When we have Cub Scouts interested in the Nova Awards, our Pack reaches out to all the eligible Cub Scouts to see if they are interested and what Nova Awards they are interested. Some do a specific Award on their own with a Counselor, usually me but not always. Other times we have multiple Scouts working on the same Nova Award. When I am the Counselor, I usually promote the group Nova Award sessions as an alternative Pack Summertime Activity. I will meet with the Cubs Scouts for about an hour at least 3 times, June, July, Aug. Most of the work they do on their own with their parents and then they discuss what they have done with their Counselor. When I am their Counselor, I strongly encourage they keep a Nova Award Science Journal, but do not require it. They are allowed to use their personal journals when discussing their work with me. I have no issue with a Scientist that takes, uses, and refers to their own notes when talking to a Mentor.

FWIW, I have been a Mentor to 9 (3 Cub Scouts, 6 Webelos) Supernova Award recipients from at least two different Packs. I have Mentored more, but some chose not to complete their Supernova Award and moved on to other activities more to their passions. And that is absolutely OK. I have directly mentored at least two other adults that went on to become Supernova Mentors.

My biggest complaint about the Nova Awards and Supernova Award program is that the requirements become very repetitive. Especially for those striving to earn multiple Supernova Awards. But that is how science works. It builds on repeating what you did before with greater outcomes.

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