Boy Scouts Expands STEM Scouts to 7 New Regions

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is expanding its popular STEM Scouts pilot program to seven new councils this fall. Now available in 20 BSA councils nationwide, STEM Scouts is a coed program designed to captivate young people as they discover science, technology, engineering and mathematics and pursue their interest in one of those fields.

The BSA councils that are adopting the STEM Scouts program in 2016 are: Blue Ridge Council, Greenville, SC; Pine Burr Council, Hattiesburg, MS; Lincoln Heritage Council, Louisville, KY; Occoneechee Council, Raleigh, NC; Hawk Mountain Council, Reading, PA; Orange County Council, Santa Ana, CA; and Maui County, Wailuku, HI.

The STEM Scouts program is growing at time when young people are expressing that they want more hands-on, real-world experiences when it comes to STEM education, according to a recent report by the science education-focused Amgen Foundation.

“Young people have an incredible sense of curiosity that pairs so well with the studies of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and scouting, but studies show that they’re not getting what they need to grow their understanding and interest in these subjects,” said Mike Surbaugh, chief scout executive of the BSA, in a prepared statement. “The BSA is in a unique position to fuel youth curiosity with experiences that answer questions and create a mind of endless ideas. Expanding this program affords us the opportunity to help youth more easily grasp what they learn in the classroom — or in some cases, get ahead of what they will learn in class — allowing them to be more successful with their STEM studies as they reach higher education levels.”

While job opportunities in STEM fields continue to grow in the United States, interest tends to wane as young people get older and progress through high school, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And according to an ACT STEM report, only a quarter of high school seniors are ready for college-level STEM courses.

The STEM Scouts pilot program began in Knoxville, TN in 2015 and proved to be successful. Subsequently that year, the BSA expanded the program to 12 additional councils. From fall 2015 to spring 2016, STEM Scouts grew by more than 30 percent, according to a news release.

Delivered through sponsoring organizations and augmented with mobile STEM laboratories, STEM Scouts is open to boys and girls in elementary, middle and high school. By encouraging girls and boys to participate in STEM activities at a young age, STEM Scouts provides an opportunity for coed collaboration and gives youth a chance to become STEM experts, the release said.
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About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].