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STEM Nova Awards

Future directions for STEM

To: Capitol Area Council scouts and scouters

Re: Changes to the STEM award program

Beginning June 1, 2022, BSA national has delegated STEM Nova and Supernova award program administration to local councils, should they choose to do so. Please see the FAQ at

With your tremendous support, Capitol Area Council has one of the strongest and most popular STEM programs in the nation, and your STEM committee will continue to administer Nova and Supernova awards as long as there is interest and availability. And rest assured that our STEMboree and STEM Adventure Weekend events will continue providing mountain-top STEM experiences.

Additionally, because the Nova program will no longer evolve, the CAC STEM committee is developing a comparable parallel STEM award program with a focus on adding new topics and continuously improving the STEM program. Our goal is to begin with a few Nova-similar award options at the Cub and Scouts BSA levels, with requirements and curricula that provide a deeper STEM dive into Scouting topics and the world around us. Watch for an announcement this fall with a targeted program kickoff in late 2023.

We have been delighted by all the scouts that have participated in Nova and Supernova over the past decade; we are grateful for all the adult counselors, mentors, and STEM supporters; and we are very happy to continue this program with your support and to explore new opportunities that expand STEM for our scouts.

Yours in Scouting,

CAC STEM Nova Committee

Nova and Supernova Awards

The Nova Award is an age-appropriate introduction in detail to STEM topics; you can earn these by working with a Nova Counselor (parents or leaders can easily become one by taking Youth Protection Training and completing a Boy Scouts of America adult membership application; fill in “58” for the position code).

The first time a Scout earns a Nova Award, they can order the award patch (as pictured here). If the Scout earns an additional Nova Award, they will receive a triangular metal pin with the “Pi” symbol engraved in it; that pin is worn by attaching it to the Nova Award patch.

There are Nova Awards for each Scouting program.

Here’s some basic information about Nova Awards:

  • You can usually complete most requirements within 2 to 6 hours
  • Nova Awards are designed be taught in a group setting
  • Nova Awards are typically completed and always awarded at the unit level
  • Here are requirements for Cub Scout Nova Awards, Scouts BSA Nova Awards, and Venturing or Sea Scouting Nova Awards
  • Scout units may purchase Nova Award patches and pins at the Steve Matthews Scout Shop; you’ll need to submit a unit advancement report indicating which Scouts earned the award(s).


The Supernova Award requires that you work with a registered adult Supernova Mentor who has specialized, professional knowledge in certain STEM areas.

These awards require more of a time commitment, usually two to six months. But there is no time limit for a Scout to finish the requirements, except that the Scout has to finish while still registered as a youth member of Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA, Venturing, or Sea Scouting. Scouts who earn a Supernova Award will receive a medal (like the one pictured here).

There are different versions of the Supernova for each BSA program.

Here’s some basic information about Supernova Awards:

  • Scouts work on Supernova Awards with an adult Supernova Mentor in an individual or small group setting (while always following Youth Protection policies avoiding a one-on-one situation)
  • All adult Supernova Mentors are typically subject-matter experts in a scientific field and must be certified by our council leadership; there’s an application and Mentors need to complete Supernova Mentor Training
  • Here are requirements for Cub Scout Supernova Awards, Scouts BSA Supernova Awards, and Venturing or Sea Scouting Supernova Awards
  • Scout units may purchase Supernova Award medals at the Steve Matthews Scout Shop after approval from our council’s STEM Committee

Requirements for these awards are set by the national Boy Scouts of America. You can find more information about the awards and what you have to do to earn them by visiting


Can These Awards Help Scouts Advance?

These awards aren’t connected to Cub Scout or Scouts BSA rank advancement (Cub Scout advancement awards are Lion, Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Scouts BSA advancement awards are Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle). But, several of the Adventures (belt loop awards) that Cub Scouts earn to advance in rank can also count towards earning a Nova Award. Similarly, some merit badges (special awards demonstrating proficiency or knowledge in different subject areas) that Scouts in Scouts BSA Troops earn to advance in rank can also count towards earning a Nova Award.

Have a question about STEM Nova Awards?

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