My name is Titus Er from Troop 20, in Oak Hill Virginia. From the NCAC BSA council, I am a Star Scout, currently working to achieve Life rank, and a 7th grader at Rachel Carson Middle School. I completed the SUPERNOVA Bernard Harris Award on July 2nd, 2020. In order to receive this award, I completed NOVA Whoosh, Shoot, Splash, and watched a total of 9 hours of STEM related videos (which was quite difficult!).
I have to admit that I am not a huge STEM fan, so these requirements were especially difficult for me. Each NOVA award takes roughly around 4-6 hours including the 3 hours of videos. I had to glean information from the videos, watch very carefully, analyze the information and take notes on it. This requires 100% concentration which was challenging for me, because I wasn’t necessarily always interested in the topic, although many videos were interesting.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have a huge advantage because of the amount of time I have to watch videos and complete the requirements for the NOVA. During a school week, I don’t have the time to complete as many requirements, because I am busy with school, sports, practicing instruments, and homework. Since there is a pandemic and school’s out, and most activities shut down, I was able to work with my mentor virtually to discuss the requirements.
My first NOVA award was Shoot. I completed it on April 23rd, 2020. It was a challenging NOVA, because space was a topic I rarely researched before. One of the requirements stated to research a satellite in your area and take a look at it in space. My Dad and I stood outside when it was freezing for 15-30 minutes! We saw two lights in the sky, and were determining which one was the right satellite. When we finally truly saw the satellite, it was very small from afar. It was truly a great experience doing this NOVA.
My second NOVA was Whoosh completed on June 1st, and at first I thought that the NOVA was about wind! I found out that it wasn’t, but I learned so much from it. During Elementary School, I learned a lot about simple machines, but doing this NOVA award took it to a whole new level. I discovered energy and how energy works in different simple machines, and I looked at ordinary places such as playgrounds and saw how simple machines were involved. It was a fascinating topic, because I realized now that energy is moving everywhere! I will never regret doing this NOVA.
My third NOVA, and last required NOVA was Splash completed on June 9th. This was a NOVA award I was certainly looking forward to. After doing this NOVA award, I was very aware of the long and relaxed showers I was taking and made sure to cut them by half. I learned that water is essential in everyday life. We simply cannot live without it, and I became aware that drinking water is not the only thing vital to our survival. After looking at the crazy amount of water that my family was using, I decided we had to change. I am very glad that this NOVA award has changed my mindset about water, and forever will.
In addition to completing NOVA awards, the scout has to complete the requirements in the SUPERNOVA itself. One of the requirements is earning the Scholarship Merit Badge. At first, I thought that this merit badge was going to get me into a college for free, although that is not true. I did certainly learn from it though. One of the big challenges for me was contacting my Principal and asking for a letter about my good behavior, leadership, and service. I was nervous about this because I seldom talked to my Principal, and I was afraid of what she would say. In the end I got a great response.
Another challenging requirement was conducting an experiment for a Cub Scout Den. This was difficult for me, because I did not know a lot of experiments and did not participate in many experiments. I was quite good at magic, so I decided to incorporate magic into my experiment. I had to do some research about my specific magic trick, and I figured out that every magic trick has scientific reasoning. In addition, because of COVID I had to do it virtually. I honed my communication skills, because I had to look at the camera and not my experiment. In the end, I was very satisfied with my experiment, because I figured out how to incorporate science into my life in a very fun way for me.
I also learned about the Scientific Method, and as I researched a topic, I had to figure out the two competing theories about the topic. I also had to figure out which theory I thought was more accurate and had more facts. On top of that, I had to make a slideshow for my mentor and analyze the controversies and competing theories of each topic. I have never really researched a single topic, and analyzed two theories so this was a new challenge to me. I enjoy researching, so this was a great experience for me. I am sure this activity will help me do better in my studies and I hope that I will use the Scientific Method my whole life.
Overall I enjoyed this Bernard Harris SUPERNOVA award, and I think that it will help me in my studies throughout my life. It will help me get a much better understanding of STEM, and will allow me to better appreciate science. After accomplishing this SUPERNOVA award, I feel like I have grown in my understanding of STEM.
For all scouts out there, I highly recommend doing NOVA and SUPERNOVA awards, because it really enhances your knowledge, from Science, Technology, Engineering, to Mathematics, and helps you get a much better understanding of the world and how it functions. It may be a challenging journey, but it is definitely worth your time. After completing the Bernard Harris SUPERNOVA, you will feel a deep sense of satisfaction inside your mind. Whenever you see the medal, you will know that you worked hard for the award. These are STEM topics that will help you in different aspects of life.