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Pack gets 1st STEM award for Scouts; Leaders develop custom curriculum.

GRAFTON - Cub Scout Pack 106 in Grafton will see 15 Webelos recognized for a very special achievement at its annual Blue and Gold banquet to be held Feb. 10. Pack 106 is part of the Hassanamisco District of Mohegan Council, and is led by Cubmaster Chris Paquin and Assistant Cubmaster Lewis Alderton.

Six Arrow of Light Scouts will be recognized for earning Supernova awards, an award that is part of the new STEM program in Cub and Boy Scouting. All 14 Pack 106 boys, Webelos and Arrow of Light Scouts, will be getting the Science and Technology Nova awards. STEM focuses on exposing boys to science, technology, engineering and mathematics and offers four different Nova awards for Cubs, Webelos, Boy Scouts and Venturers. The requirements vary by rank, and to be eligible to earn a Supernova award, it is highly recommended that the boy first complete the requirements for at least two of the Nova awards.

The Webelos from Pack 106 will be the first Supernova Awards to be awarded in Massachusetts since the debut of the STEM program for Boy Scouts.

The Dr. Charles H. Townes Supernova Award, the Supernova award at the Webelos level, provides a challenging set of activities. Scouts who are in the STEM program have to be an active member of their den, so these requirements are on top of the work they are already doing to move through the ranks. The Supernova requirements are completed by earning the Scholar, Scientist and Engineer Webelos activity badges, earning three activity badges of Craftsman, Forester, Geologist, Naturalist, Outdoorsman or Readyman, a discussion with their mentor on Dr. Charles H. Townes and his achievements, research on five other famous scientists, technology innovators, engineers or mathematicians, and discussing with their teacher or Cub Scout Leader the importance of math and science in education.

In addition, they must visit or learn about a STEM-related career, do an experiment under the direction of their mentor that shows how the scientific method is used, and participate in a Nova or STEM-related activity with a Boy Scout or Venturer who is working toward their own Supernova award, or within their Pack of Den. Once these requirements are met, they can then apply for the Webelos Scout Supernova Award for approval.

Mr. Paquin and Mr. Alderton developed a customized curriculum for the boys from their pack who were interested in participating in the new program. "After hearing about the STEM program, I was inspired to try the program out in my own unit," said Mr. Paquin. The two leaders had 15 boys interested in the program, that required an additional commitment over their normal den meetings; eight Webelos Scouts (4th year Cub Scouts) and seven Arrow of Light Scouts (fifth year Cub Scouts) joined up, which Mr. Paquin felt was the perfect number.

The group has met weekly, covering a variety of STEM-focused topics such as the Scientific Method, Bernoulli's Principle, Pascal's Law, Newton's first law of motion and more.

"The boys had a great time making crystals, discussing some cool optical illusions, and learning all about astronomy, too," said Mr. Paquin. During December, the pack visited the Boston Museum of Science, and the STEM group was accommodated with a special set of activities to help them complete their requirements. Later on this month, the boys will be launching rockets that they are currently building themselves. "We will also be doing some cool stuff with electricity and having them make some mini-catapults with some parts found around the house," explained Mr. Paquin.

Mr. Paquin and Mr. Alderton are no strangers to the fields of technology, working as a technology architect and a software engineer respectively. For them, the idea of developing a STEM program seemed like a natural fit. Although the Nova awards are open to Wolf and Bear Scouts as well, Mr. Paquin and Mr. Alderton opted to limit the program to Webelos for this first year, and both act as STEM counselors.

"If there is enough interest, and enough people willing to act as counselors, it can be opened up to more Scouts in the Wolf or Bear years," stated Mr. Paquin.

The annual Blue and Gold banquet is a time to recognize the hard work of all Cub Scouts, and is when boys often move up in rank after successfully completing the requirements for their current rank. For Arrow of Light Scouts, this is the time when they earn their AOL, Cub Scouting's highest achievement, and bridge up to Boy Scouting. "The Arrow of Light boys will have a lot to celebrate," said Mr. Paquin, "but their Supernova awards are sure to be a big highlight!"

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CUTLINE: (1) Pack 106 kicked off their STEM program by visiting the Boston Museum of Science, where staff were helpful in providing information and activities that would help the boys meet the requirements for their Supernova award. From left, Chris Paquin, cubmaster of Pack 106, a Museum of Science activities adviser, and Jack Cooper, a Pack 106 Webelos Scout. (2) From left, Alex Hanna, James Alderton, Jacob Paquin, Jack Cooper, Graham Zarriello, Kevin Roche, Assistant Cubmaster Lewis Alderton, Matthew LeClair, Cubmaster Chris Paquin, Cameron Cadman, Rishi Nandurbarker, Hunter Wilcox, Rahul Harve, Wesley Chiu, and George Hardiman of Grafton Cub Scout Pack 106.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 25, 2013
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