It is AOL crossover season once again, and this year the National Capital Area Council’s very own Pack 698 in Burke, VA had one Arrow of Light Scout who became the first ever Cub Scout in his Pack to receive the Dr. Charles H. Townes Supernova Award. Lian Flinner is a fifth grader at White Oaks Elementary School and has been in Cub Scouts since he was old enough to join. As a Tiger Scout, he was always interested in building Legos like most children, but his interest grew as the years went on. He started to become curious about electronics, computers, and eventually robotics. As he neared the end of his Cub Scout journey, he decided to put his skills to the test during his final months in Pack 698. He chose to complete the challenging Supernova Award for the Webelos rank with less than a month to spare. While navigating a pandemic that challenged his ability to complete the requirements, he successfully completed his goal, and on May 1, 2021, he was awarded the medal alongside his fellow AOL Cub Scouts, who all received the Down and Dirty Nova Award.
While working together with his mentor, Neal Erickson (Cubmaster for Pack 698), Lian learned about famous scientists including Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Stephen Hawking; performed at-home experiments with his Dad (safely!); and discussed the method of creating a hypothesis and how to apply it to the scientific method in order to complete his main project. Lian’s first experiment involved growing crystals at home formed by two different compounds: magnesium sulfate and aluminum potassium sulfate. He watched them grow in different environments for several weeks and analyzed the growth patterns as well as the shapes they transformed into. He also included sugar as a part of the experiment and was able to make some tasty at-home rock candy!
The main project Lian completed was his “Arduino Car Experiment” for which Lian decided to use his Arduino UNO kit, a microcontroller board designed to take programming enthusiasts to the next level of computer programming and electrical engineering. With the kit, he built and programmed a speed tracker for three of his favorite Hot Wheels cars, which he happily mentions in his final report as being three out of more than one hundred cars that he owns! He measured the weight of each car and then tracked their changes in speed at different angles. Once the experiment was complete, he determined the winning car, analyzed the results, and investigated what could be done differently to make the experiment better the next time. After completing the whole project, Lian thought about how this could be applied to activities like the Pinewood Derby to help measure the speed of every scout’s car and perhaps introduce a new award for the derby that could connect packs across the NCAC: the fastest pinewood derby car based on an actual calculated speed. He looks forward to using his kit and the scientific method in the future to test new projects and perhaps even build his own robot. Speaking of which, he has already been eyeing the robotics merit badge in Boy Scouts.
The Supernova Award was a significant accomplishment for Lian. Along the way to achieving this award, he came across two powerful quotations from an inventor he now admires, Thomas Edison. The first quote is “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” The second is “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The crux of these two quotes are time and effort, both of which Lian demonstrated good use of to successfully complete the Supernova award. As Lian becomes a supernova of his own, we can only look forward to his next stellar performance. Congratulations, Lian!