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


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

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 water affects your life every day. Wade! is part of the Science category.

Wade! requirements

  1. Choose A, or B, or C and complete ALL the requirements:
    A. Watch about three hours total of science-related programming that discusses water as it relates to the hydrologic cycle, primary sources, primary users (including wildlife), health, sources of pollution, waste treatment, and related sciences and technologies. 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), History Channel, the National Academy of Sciences YouTube Channel, and http://www.waterblues.org. You may choose to watch a live performance or movie developed by a local museum or state or federal agency. You may watch online productions with your counselor’s approval and under your parent’s supervision.
    B. Read (for about three hours total) about water as it relates to the hydrologic cycle, primary sources, primary users, health, sources of pollution, waste treatment, and related sciences and technologies. Then do the following:
    1. Make a list of at least five 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 Science, Science Illustrated, Natural History, Scientific American, Nature Conservancy, Sage Magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic, LakeLine, and WaterWorld.
    C. Do a combination of reading and watching (about three hours total). Then do the following:
    1. Make a list of at least five questions or ideas from each article or show.
    2. Discuss two of the questions or ideas with your counselor.
  2. Choose ONE STEM field of interest from the following list. Complete ALL the requirements for a Venturing STEM exploration in that field. You should be prepared to discuss the role of water in the area or field you’ve chosen. (If you have already completed a Venturing STEM exploration in one of these fields, please choose a different field for this award.)
    ChemistryForestrySoil and Water Conservation
    Environmental ScienceGeologySustainability
    Fish and Wildlife ManagementNatureWeather
    Fly-FishingPublic Health
  3. Learn how the volume of water changes as it moves from phase to phase. Do all of the following.
    A. Describe how you would measure the change in volume for the transition of water from liquid to ice.
    B. Discuss with your counselor the effects that floating sea ice and land-based ice have on sea levels when they melt.
    C. Discuss with your counselor the effects that floating sea ice and land-based ice have on water tables when they melt.
  4. Prepare two demonstrations of surfactants and present them to a group of Cub Scouts or other youth. Make sure to explain the science involved and how surfactants can be used in oil spill cleanup and recovery. Explain to your counselor the physical concept(s) involved.
  5. Water, wetlands, and wildlife. Do ONE of the following options (A or B).
    A. Identify and locate on a map the five largest bodies of water near where you live, and indicate the water flow for each. These could be creeks, streams, rivers, bayous, lakes, bays, estuaries, or oceans. The flow should culminate in the largest water body in your area.
    1. Identify 10 of the common invertebrates and vertebrates that are probably present in these different bodies of water. Learn what a bioindicator is, and identify any in your system. You may choose to contact a local biology teacher, college professor, nature center naturalist, or state fish and wildlife expert, or you can use resources from your local conservation department.
    2. Research the services that wetlands perform for water quality, flood control, and wildlife habitat. How can wetlands be used to complement sewage treatment plants? Discuss your findings with your counselor.
    B. Surface water
    1. Discuss with your counselor the following concepts: a watershed and how it relates to a river basin, runoff, runoff coefficient, infiltration, point source pollution, non-point source pollution, and oceanic dead zones near the mouth of rivers.
    2. Determine which river basin you live in and research (or estimate) its size. Estimate the total volume of water that falls on this watershed every minute during a 1-inch per hour rainfall.
    3. Construct a chart that shows the volume of water that runs into the river as a fraction of the total rain falling on the watershed (using composite runoff coefficients). Estimate the rate of runoff in cubic feet per minute for a 1-inch per hour rainfall from your home’s lot or a nearby property.
    4. Discuss with your counselor the implications of these calculations as they relate to the effect of changes in land use on flooding, soil moisture, erosion, and point and non-point source pollution. What are the most common types of water pollution in your area, and how are these being impacted by land use? How might these be reduced?
    Helpful Resources:
    The USGS Water Science School – https://water.usgs.gov/edu/) may be helpful in researching these topics.
  6. Choose ONE of the following options:
    A. Research a disaster involving water, such as the receding Sarichef Island in Alaska, the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami, a hurricane, coral reef bleaching, sea level rise, etc. Determine the causes of the event, the damage caused, and how the area has recovered. Find out about any remediation that has occurred to restore the area to its pre-disaster state or efforts to prevent future damage from similar events. Share the results of your research with your crew and with your counselor.
    B. Research the major functions of a sewage treatment plant. Describe to your counselor how it reduces the impact of sewage on aquatic life. List any pollutants that remain in the water after processing and their potential impact on aquatic life.
    C. Visit a place where water is being processed either by man or by nature (wastewater treatment plant, naturalist center, conservation department, etc.) and discuss the processing with a professional. Discuss with your counselor what you learned, including the aspect(s) of “STEM” that are being used.
  7. Discuss with your counselor what you have learned while working on this award, and how water and the science of water affect your everyday life.

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Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Wade! is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Wade! requirements. usscouts.org 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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