APU Hosts Boy Scout STEM/Nova Day

by Kate Sullivan '15

Searching for the next Einstein? Perhaps he's a Boy Scout. Hoping to inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, Azusa Pacific University hosted more than 300 San Gabriel Valley Boy Scouts for a day of interactive learning at the Segerstrom Science Center. The first annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)/Nova Day, on Jan. 18, 2014 offered area scouts a memorable way to earn a merit badge or belt loop.

Transformed into a bustling and fascinating hub for Boy Scouts to experiment, interact, and learn, APU faculty and staff held numerous STEM–related activities throughout the day. Scouts built robots and entered their creations into battle competitions. They experimented with electricity. Others donned goggles and gloves to explore chemical and physical change. Scouts watched as Caleb Wagner ’15 demonstrated implosions through pressure. Everywhere flurries of scientific discovery translated into learning. “This event introduced kids to science and college in a way that captured their interest,” said Bradley “Peanut” McCoy, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and physics. “The fun atmosphere was contagious and faculty enjoyed ourselves, too!”

As Ryan, an 8-year-old, third grade Cub Scout fiddled with the mouse trying to make a man fly as far as possible, he spoke of computer games as his favorite part of the day. Seventh grader Justin, 12, said he, “loved making [scale models] of molecules because I like putting things together.”

Cindy Sercel, a troop leader, expressed gratitude for all that STEM/Nova Day offered. “The scouts experienced so many phenomenal opportunities in one location, while connecting with the college campus itself,” she said.

Scouts attending the event qualified for an STEM pie pin award, as part of the Boy Scouts of America STEM/Nova Award. The program aims to stimulate interest in STEM-related fields and demonstrates how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics apply to everyday life.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 10-year employment projections show that of the 20 fastest-growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation. “Education and careers in STEM are the future,” said the event’s coordinator, Dave Landers, director of education and community outreach, Special Collections, Darling Library. “The Boy Scouts and APU recognize that our young people need strong STEM skills to complete in a global market that is increasingly competitive.”