For the past two years, a new scouting program has been gaining steady growth and popularity in the Northwoods.
It's called STEM Scouts: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is at the heart of the program for students in 3rd grade through high school. Tested five years ago in only one Boy Scouts of America council in Knoxville, TN it was rolled out in 2015 as a pilot program to just twelve councils nationwide.
Samoset Council, based in Weston and covering a large portion of the Northwoods, was one of the twelve and the only rural council chosen against the likes of all large cities such as Chicago and Dallas. The choice was made in part due to the growing number of K-12 districts here that had already launched a Fab Lab program with STEM curriculum - a perfect match for STEM Scouts.
Program director for Samoset is Amanda Flannery who explains the difference between STEM Scouts and regular boy scouts. ..
"...rather than focusing on hiking, biking, camping, we focus on science, technology, engineering and math and give them access to STEM professionals on a weekly basis. But still give them the attitude of serving their communities and others.."
Instead of packs or troops, STEM Scouts are grouped into labs. Weekly after-school meetings cover STEM modules and include fun, hands-on activities. There are no ranks or badges, but youth do receive participation and achievement awards for weekly activities and completing Individual Learning Modules says Flannery...
"...it gives them an opportunity to learn in a new way. In school they get one specific result in order get that 'A'. Here they can work together, take risks, explore so many different career fields and if they make a mistake, that is what science is all about...."
The program has 38 schools participating here. If parents are interested in enrolling their child in STEM Scouts, they can get more information at samoset.org or by calling 715-355-1450.