SIU TOUCH OF NATURE ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER: Scouts to earn merit badges Saturday at SIU STEM University event
SIU Touch of Nature Environmental Center recently issued the following announcement.
Scouts from across the area this weekend will once again descend upon Southern Illinois University Carbondale to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM – as the university plays host to its fourth annual STEM University event.
patchThe event runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, mostly at the Neckers science building. It will include activities for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts including adventures, merit badges and STEM NOVA awards. Merit badges range from architecture, astronomy and automotive maintenance all the way to radio, robotics and sculpture and beyond.
SIU professor’s Cub Scout activity featured
The Cub Scout event features an event titled “Fearful Symmetry,” an activity designed by Wesley Calvert, a local scout leader and an SIU associate professor in the mathematics degree program. Boy Scouts will have 25 Merit Badges and three STEM NOVA workshops to choose from.
Gary Kinsel, professor in the chemistry and biochemistry degree program, said SIU and the scouting program share the goal of preparing young people for future STEM-based career opportunities, which results in many natural overlaps between scouting and the university.
“What better place could a scout learn about a particular career path than at an institution like SIU, with its wealth of educational resources and facilities?” said Kinsel, who has helped organize the SIU event since its beginning. “Who better to learn from than SIU students and faculty who are actively engaged in the pursuit of that career?”
SIU community plays major role
Registered student organizations, along with SIU faculty and staff, will again play a major role in the event, hosting many of the offerings for the day. For example, the SIU Geology Club is offering an activity aimed at helping scouts earn the Geology Merit Badge, while the Saluki Miners are heading up the Mining in Society Merit Badge activity.
Scouts interested in earning the Horsemanship Merit Badge can choose to attend the activity co-hosted by Giant City Stables and the SIUC Equestrian Team while those interested in the automotive technology, aviation, drafting or electricity merit badges will attend events at the SIU Transportation Education Center at Southern Illinois Airport.
“We’ve had great success with this partnership in the past and every year the synergy gets stronger,” Kinsel said.
STEM University steadily growing
The event has continued to grow since its inaugural event in 2016, when about 55 Cub Scouts worked on the Out of This World NOVA and a variety of adventures, and 95 Boy Scouts participated in nine merit badge and four STEM NOVA workshops. By 2018, more than 400 scouts and adult volunteers were participating in the event, Kinsel said.
“For 2019 we are expecting at least as many participants,” Kinsel said.
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