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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: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 projectiles and space affect your life each day. Shoot! is part of the Science category.

Shoot! requirements

  1. Choose A or B or C and complete ALL the requirements.
    A. Watch about three hours total of science-related shows or documentaries that involve projectiles, aviation, weather, astronomy, or space technology. Then do the following:
    1. Make a list of at least five questions or ideas from the show(s) you watched.
    1. 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. Read (about three hours total) about projectiles, aviation, space, weather, astronomy, or aviation or space technology. 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.
    C. Do a combination of reading and watching (about three hours total). Then do the following:
    1. Make a list of at least two questions or ideas from each article or show.
    2. Discuss two of the questions or ideas 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 science.
    ArcheryGame DesignSpace Exploration
    AstronomyRifle ShootingSustainability
    AviationShotgun Shooting
  3. Choose A or B and complete ALL the requirements.
    A. Simulations. Find and use a projectile simulation applet on the Internet (with your parent’s or guardian’s permission). Then design and complete a hands-on experiment to demonstrate projectile motion.
    1. Keep a record of the angle, time, and distance.
    2. Graph the results of your experiment. (Note: Using a high-speed camera or video camera may make the graphing easier, as will doing many repetitions using variable heights from which the projectile can be launched.)
    Helpful Links
    Be sure you have your parent’s or guardian’s permission before using the Internet. Some of these websites require the use of Java runtime environments. If your computer does not support this program, you may not be able to visit those sites.
    Projectile Motion Applets
    Fowler’s Physics Applets
    Java Applets on Physics
    3. Discuss with your counselor:
    a. What a projectile is
    b. What projectile motion is
    c. The factors affecting the path of a projectile
    d. The difference between forward velocity and acceleration due to gravity
    B. Discover. Explain to your counselor the difference between escape velocity (not the game), orbital velocity, and terminal velocity. Then answer TWO of the following questions. (With your parent’s or guardian’s permission, you may explore websites to find this information.)
    1. Why are satellites usually launched toward the east, and what is a launch window?
    2. What is the average terminal velocity of a skydiver? (What is the fastest you would go if you were to jump out of an airplane?)
    3. How fast does a bullet, baseball, airplane, or rocket have to travel in order to escape Earth’s gravitational field? (What is Earth’s escape velocity?)
  4. Choose A or B and complete ALL the requirements.
    A. Visit an observatory or a flight, aviation, or space museum.
    1. During your visit, talk to a docent or person in charge about a science topic related to the site.
    2. Discuss your visit with your counselor.
    B. Discover the latitude and longitude coordinates of your current position. Then do the following:
    1. Find out what time a satellite will pass over your area. (A good resource to find the times for satellite passes is the Heavens Above website at
    2. Watch the satellite using binoculars. Record the time of your viewing, the weather conditions, how long the satellite was visible, and the path of the satellite. Then discuss your viewing with your counselor.
  5. Choose A or B or C and complete ALL the requirements.
    A. Design and build a catapult that will launch a marshmallow a distance of 4 feet. Then do the following:
    1. Keep track of your experimental data for every attempt. Include the angle of launch and the distance projected.
    1. Make sure you apply the same force every time, perhaps by using a weight to launch the marshmallow. Discuss your design, data, and experiments—both successes and failures - with your counselor.
    B. Design a pitching machine that will lob a softball into the strike zone. Answer the following questions, then discuss your design, data, and experiments - both successes and failures—with your counselor.
    1. At what angle and velocity will your machine need to eject the softball in order for the ball to travel through the strike zone from the pitcher’s mound?
    2. How much force will you need to apply in order to power the ball to the plate?
    3. If you were to use a power supply for your machine, what power source would you choose and why?
    C. Design and build a marble run or roller coaster that includes an empty space where the marble has to jump from one part of the chute to the other. Do the following, then discuss your design, data, and experiments—both successes and failures—with your counselor.
    1. Keep track of your experimental data for every attempt. Include the vertical angle between the two parts of the chute and the horizontal distance between the two parts of the chute.
    2. Experiment with different starting heights for the marble. How do the starting heights affect the velocity of the marble? How does the starting height affect the jump distance?
  6. Discuss with your counselor how science affects 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 Shoot! is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Shoot! 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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