by STEM Scouts
Originally posted on Chief’s Corner on scoutingwire.org on April 15, 2015
You may have heard me mention STEM Scouts briefly in past posts. But today, I’m pleased to reveal that STEM Scouts has taken root and is set to grow. STEM Scouts will help Scouting grow and bring many new kids into the movement who will grow their potential.
STEM Scouts is a new coed Scouting program that’s been piloted in the Great Smoky Mountain Council for the past six months to attract young people to Scouting who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math. I’m pleased to announce that the following 12 councils have been selected to participate in the STEM Scouts program, pending their board approval:
- Capitol Area Council; Austin, TX
- Pathway to Adventure; Chicago, IL
- Circle Ten Council; Dallas, TX
- Denver Area Council; Denver, CO
- Connecticut Rivers Council; East Hartford, CT
- Sam Houston Area Council; Houston, TX
- Crossroads of America Council; Indianapolis, IN
- Middle Tennessee Council; Nashville, TN
- Greater St. Louis Area Council; St. Louis, MO
- Catalina Council; Tucson, AZ
- Garden State Council; Westampton, NJ
- Samoset Council; Weston, WI
STEM Scouts is a significant program for the BSA – especially as we continue to innovate ways to extend Scouting’s values and life-changing experiences to reach more youth. The program is designed to be fast-paced, thought provoking, and fun. Kids learn how to apply STEM in their everyday lives and toward future careers.
The program launches at a time when careers in STEM-related fields are on the rise. By increasing STEM learning opportunities and establishing partnerships with local businesses, schools and universities, STEM Scouts gives young people real experience in these fields and the opportunity to work closely with STEM educators and experts.
Through the pilot program in the Great Smoky Mountain Council, we have learned that STEM Scouts attracts young people who otherwise did not choose to join Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Venturing. We know that parents, children and educators want STEM Scouts – not only have we been told as much, there’s been 90-plus percent attendance at weekly meetings. And we’ve heard from our pilot leaders how combining STEM activities with the values and methods of Scouting is providing positive life-changing experiences for kids.
But recruiting numbers really tell the story. Last fall, 22 test schools in the Great Smoky Mountain Council hosted recruitment for STEM Scouts several weeks after traditional fall Cub Scout and Boy Scout recruitment. More than 370 youth signed up, and 85 percent were new to Scouting. In addition, we recruited 75 adult leaders. That’s a tremendous testament to how innovative programs like these have a bright future within our movement — they deliver the kinds of activities that kids want while relying on the core methods of Scouting to produce the right outcomes.
Check back for more news on how the extended pilot project is going. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. How do you think STEM Scouts can best serve and prepare youth to become successful adults?
Yours in Scouting,