Designed to Crunch

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Submit any questions regarding the STEM Nova or Supernova awards to [email protected]

Designed to Crunch!

This patch is worn as a temporary emblem
on the right uniform pocket.
Last updated:
Level:Scouts BSA

The BSA's STEM Nova Awards program is designed to introduce and encourage further study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) by Cub Scouts, Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts. Youth may earn all STEM Nova awards for their program. The Supernova awards are designed to inspire further study. It is recommended that you complete at least two STEM Nova awards before starting the requirements for the Supernova award.

Youth may complete any STEM Nova award with a parent or unit leader’s guidance. However, Supernova Awards mentors must be approved by the local council. (Note: Lion Cubs and Tiger Cubs are not eligible to participate in the STEM Nova Awards program.)

This module is designed to help you explore how math affects your life each day. Designed to Crunch is part of the Mathematics category.

Designed to Crunch requirements

  1. Choose A or B or C or D and complete ALL the requirements.
    A. Watch about three hours total math-related shows or documentaries that involve scientific models and modeling, physics, sports equipment design, bridge building, or cryptography. Then do the following:
    1. Make a list of at least five questions or ideas from the show(s) you watched.
    2. Discuss two of the questions or ideas with your counselor
    Some examples include—but are not limited to—shows found on PBS ("NOVA"), Discovery Channel, Science Channel, National Geographic Channel, TED Talks (online videos), and the History Channel. You may choose to watch a live performance or movie at a planetarium or science museum instead of watching a media production. You may watch online productions with your counselor’s approval and under your parent’s supervision.
    B. Research (about three hours total) several websites (with your parent’s or guardian’s permission) that discuss and explain cryptography or the discoveries of people who worked extensively with cryptography. Then do the following:
    1. List and record the URLs of the websites you visited and the major topics covered on the websites you visited. (You may use the copy and paste function—eliminate the words—if you include your sources.)
    2. Discuss with your counselor how cryptography is used in the military and in everyday life and how a cryptographer uses mathematics.
    Helpful Link
    "The Mathematics of Cryptology": University of Massachusetts
    C. Read at least three articles (about three hours total) about physics, math, modeling, or cryptography. You may wish to read about how technology and engineering are changing sports equipment, how and why triangles are used in construction, bridge building, engineering, climate and/or weather models, how banks keep information secure, or about the stock market. Then do the following:
    1. Make a list of at least two questions or ideas from each article.
    2. Discuss two of the questions or ideas with your counselor.
    Examples of magazines include—but are not limited to—Odyssey, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Science Illustrated, Discover, Air & Space, Popular Astronomy, Astronomy, Science News, Sky & Telescope, Natural History, Robot, Servo, Nuts and Volts, and Scientific American.
    D. Do a combination of reading, watching, or researching (about three hours total). Then do the following:
    1. Make a list of at least two questions or ideas from each article, website, or show.
    2. Discuss two of the questions or questions with your counselor.
  2. Complete ONE merit badge from the following list. (Choose one that you have not already used toward another Nova award.) After completion, discuss with your counselor how the merit badge you earned uses mathematics.
    American BusinessDraftingRadio
    ChessEntrepreneurshipSigns, Signals, and Codes
    Computers[Note 1]OrienteeringSurveying
    Digital TechnologyPersonal ManagementWeather
  3. Choose TWO from A or B or C or D or E and complete ALL the requirements. (Write down your data and calculations to support your explanation to your counselor. You may use a spreadsheet. Do not use someone else’s data or calculations.)
    A. Calculate your horsepower when you run up a flight of stairs.
    Helpful Links
    "How to Calculate Your Horsepower": wikiHow
    1. How does your horsepower compare to the power of a horse?
    2. How does your horsepower compare to the horsepower of your favorite car?
    Share your calculations with your counselor, and discuss what you learned about horsepower.
    B. Attend at least two track, cross-country, or swim meets.
    1. For each meet, time at least three racers. (Time the same racers at each meet.)
    2. Calculate the average speed of the racers you timed. (Make sure you write down your data and calculations.)
    3. Compare the average speeds of your racers to each other, to the official time, and to their times at the two meets you attended.
    Share your calculations with your counselor, and discuss your conclusions about the racers’ strengths and weaknesses.
    C. Attend a soccer, baseball, softball, or basketball game. Choose two players and keep track of their efforts during the game. (Make sure you write down your data and calculations.) Calculate their statistics using the following as examples:
    1. Soccer—Goals, assists, corner kicks, keeper saves, fouls, offsides
    2. Baseball or softball—Batting average, runs batted in, fielding statistics, pitching statistics
    3. Basketball—Points, baskets attempted, rebounds, steals, turnovers, and blocked shots
    Share your calculations with your counselor, and discuss your conclusions about the players’ strengths and weaknesses.
    D. Attend a football game or watch one on TV. (This is a fun activity to do with a parent or friend! ) Keep track of the efforts of your favorite team during the game. (Make sure you write down your data and calculations.) Calculate your team’s statistics using the following as examples:
    1. Kicks/punts
    a. Kickoff—Kick return yards
    b. Punt—Number, yards
    c. Field goals—Attempted, percent completed, yards
    d. Extra point—Attempted, percent completed
    2. Offense
    a. Number of first downs
    b. Forward passes—Attempted, percent completed, total length of passes, longest pass, number and length of passes caught by each receiver, yardage gained by each receiver after catching a pass
    c. Running plays—Number, yards gained or lost for each run, longest run from scrimmage line, total yards gained or lost, and number of touchdowns
    3. Defense—Number of quarterback sacks, interceptions turnovers, and safeties
    Share your calculations with your counselor, and discuss your conclusions about your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
    E. How starry are your nights? Participate in a star count to find out. This may be done alone but is more fun with a group. Afterward, share your results with your counselor.
    1. Visit NASA’s Student Observation Network website at for instructions on performing a star count.
    2. Do a star count on five clear nights at the same time each night.
    3. Report your results on NASA’s Student Observation Network website and see how your data compares to others.
  4. Do ALL of the following.
    A. Investigate your calculator and explore the different functions.
    B. Discuss the functions, abilities, and limitations of your calculator with your counselor. Talk about how these affect what you can and cannot do with a calculator. (See your counselor for some ideas to consider.)
  5. Discuss with your counselor how math affects your everyday life.


  1. The Computers merit badge was replaced in 2014 by the Digital Technology merit badge.

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Designed to Crunch is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Designed to Crunch requirements. has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

External links

STEM Nova Awards Program Advancement
Award Overview:STEM Nova awards
Worksheets:Nova & Supernova Award Worksheets
Cub Scout
Nova:Science: Science EverywhereDown and DirtyNova WILD!Out of This WorldUncovering the PastTechnology: Tech TalkCub Scouts Can CodeEngineering: Swing!Up and AwayMath: 1-2-3 Go!Fearful Symmetry
Supernova:Dr. Luis W. Alvarez Supernova Award (Wolf/Bear only) • Dr. Charles H. Townes Supernova Award (Webelos only)
Scouts BSA
Nova:Science: Shoot!Let It Grow!Splash!Mendel's MinionsTechnology: Start Your Engines!Hello, WorldEngineering: Whoosh!Up and AwayNext Big ThingMath: Designed to Crunch
Supernova:Dr. Bernard Harris Bronze Supernova AwardThomas Edison Silver Supernova Award
Venturer / Sea Scout
Nova:Science: Launch!Wade!What a LifeTechnology: Power UpExecuteSomething from NothingEngineering: Hang On!Up and AwayMath: Numbers Don't Lie
Supernova:Dr. Sally Ride Bronze Supernova AwardWright Brothers Silver Supernova AwardDr. Albert Einstein Gold Supernova Award
Scouter:Dr. Paul A. Siple Bronze Supernova Award

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