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How to Earn the Cub Scout Swing! Nova Award

Getting started with the Cub Scout Nova awards is easier than you may think! This post will walk you through how to earn the Swing! Nova award.

Cub Scout Nova Swing Award

The Swing! Nova award is part of the Cub Scout STEM program. You can read more about these awards as well as the Supernova awards that are available to Cub Scouts.

This module is designed to help you explore how engineering and simple machines called levers affect your life each day.

So, exactly what does your Cub Scout need to do to earn this award? I've broken this down into six parts that hopefully will simplify the process for you. You'll find them below the requirements.

Swing! Nova Award Requirements

Swing Nova Award Symbol

1. Choose A or B or C and complete ALL the requirements.

Option A. Watch an episode or episodes (about one hour total) of a show about anything related to motion or machines. Then do the following:

(1) Make a list of at least two questions or ideas from what you watched.
(2) Discuss two of the questions or ideas with your counselor.

Option B. Read (about one hour total) about anything related to motion or machines. Then do the following:

(1) Make a list of at least two questions or ideas from what you read.
(2) Discuss two of the questions or ideas with your counselor.

Option C. Do a combination of reading and watching (about one hour total) about anything related to motion or machines. Then do the following:

(1) Make a list of at least two questions or ideas from what you read and watched.
(2) Discuss two of the questions or ideas with your counselor.

2. Complete ONE adventure from the following list for your current rank or complete option A or B. (If you choose an Adventure, choose one you have not already earned.) Discuss with your counselor what kind of science, technology, engineering, and math was used in the adventure or option.

Wolf Cub Scouts
Bear Cub Scouts
Webelos & Arrow of Light Cub Scouts
Paws of Skill
Baloo the Builder
A Bear Goes Fishing

Option A: With your parent’s permission, take an old or broken household or mechanical item, break it down into its component pieces, and identify the purpose of five parts. Suggested items include a keyboard, floppy disk, telephone, VCR, tape deck, bicycle, people counter, printer or similar item. Make sure to use appropriate safety precautions.

Option B: Participate in two sports, either as an individual or part of a team, and identify the levers used in each sport.

3. Explore EACH of the following.

A. Levers

(1) Make a list or drawing of the three types of levers. (A lever is one kind of simple machine.)
(2) Show:

1. How each lever works
2. How the lever in your design will move something
3. The class of each lever
4. Why we use levers

B. On your own, design, including a drawing, sketch, or model, ONE of the following:

(1) A playground fixture that uses a lever
(2) A game or sport that uses a lever
(3) An invention that uses a lever
Be sure to show how the lever in your design will move something.

C. Discuss your findings with your counselor.

4. Do the following:

A. Visit a place that uses levers, such as a playground, carpentry shop, construction site, restaurant kitchen, or any other location that uses levers.
B. Discuss with your counselor the equipment or tools that use levers in the place you visited.

Visitations to places like carpentry shops, construction sites, restaurant kitchens, etc., will require advance planning by the counselor. The counselor should call ahead to make arrangements, and make plans to have appropriate supervision of all Scouts.

The site will very likely have rules and instructions that must be followed. The counselor should help ensure that all the participants are aware of and follow those rules. This may include safety procedures and other instructions.

5. Discuss with your counselor how engineering and simple machines affect your everyday life

How to Earn the Swing! Nova Award Cub Scout Nova award patch

Sometimes, these awards can be confusing. What exactly do the kids need to do? Who can be a counselor? Hopefully, these steps will answer all your questions so that your child can earn the Nova Swing! award.

Step 1

Find a Nova Counselor

The first step in working on this award is to find someone who is a Nova counselor or become one yourself. The counselor primarily talks to the Cub Scouts about what they've learned while completing the Swing! requirements.

Start by checking with your Cubmaster or committee chairperson. If no one in your pack is a counselor, you should become one!

Parents and leaders may be Nova counselors even if they have little or no STEM background. Here's what BSA tells us the about the knowledge level to be a Nova counselor:

Counselors should be comfortable with high school math and science but not necessarily have a degree in or work in a STEM-related field or be an expert in the topic. It’s enough to have an interest in STEM and to be willing to look into the topics so that they can guide the youth. For instance, if you have ever gone fishing, dug a hole, or ridden a bike, you understand simple machines.

Nova counselors do need to be registered BSA members, so talk to your membership chairperson or your Cubmaster about how to register. Note: the counselor position does not require a fee.

You'll need to take Youth Protection Training before you can be a registered BSA member.

Toward the bottom of this post, you'll find the counselor position-specific training requirements. There's a self-study option that doesn't take very long to go through.

The pdf versions of the requirements now include a counselor's edition which gives you helpful information about the topic of the award.

If someone else will be your child's counselor, you're probably wondering how often they need to meet. Talk to your counselor about this. Frankly, your child could have all of the discussions in one or two meetings.

Your child will need some way to help him or her remember what they've learned so that they can have that discussion with the counselor. Here are a few options.

Workbook – The U.S. Scouting Service Project has some great printable workbooks. They list each of the requirements with a section for your child to write notes for that requirement.

Audio & Video – If your child is like my son, they'll rebel if they have to write things down! A great way to avoid this is to use your smartphone or tablet to record your child. He or she can talk about what they've done and answer the questions for each requirement.

You can email these video or audio clips to the Nova counselor as requirements are completed, or your child can simply use them as a quick review before meeting with the counselor.

When you become a counselor, you can work with Cub Scouts on any of the Nova awards–not just Swing!.

After you've arranged for your counselor, it's time to dig into the award!

Learn about the Award

Familiarize yourself with the requirements. The first time I read them, I thought it would take forever to finish it because I didn't see the word OR, and I assumed that everything needed to be done! Several of the requirements say “do this OR this OR this,” so watch for that as you're reading them.

Next, have your Cub Scout read the requirements and talk to him or her about the award and the activities they'll be doing. Explain that there are a few decisions that the two of you will need to make.

This website is a great resource. They have a good checklist of the requirements with a place to make your choices.

Because that checklist is 4 pages long, I decided to make a one-page document that only lists the choices. You can download it here.

Have your Cub Scouts record their choices.

Your Cub Scout can begin working on their requirements right away. Or you can check back here next week for more detailed information about what to do next.

Step 2

Requirement 1 – Reading or Watching Shows About Motion or Machines

This requirement was confusing to me! Check out this post to find out why and get activity suggestions to complete it.

Step 3

Requirement 2 – Complete an Adventure, Tear Something Apart, or Play Two Sports

Our Cub Scouts have a choice to make for requirement 2.

Step 4

Requirement 3 – Learn About Levers

Requirement 3 helps the Cub Scouts understand levers–how they work and what the 3 classes of levers are. There's a fun activity that shows them the power of a lever using only a ruler, a pencil, and a quarter!

Step 5

Requirement 4 – Visit a Place that Uses Levers

This requirement shows the Cub Scouts the practical uses of levers. By visiting a place that uses levers, they can see first hand how levers make it easier to do work.

Step 6

Requirement 5 – Have a Discussion with your Counselor

The last requirement asks that the Cub Scout discuss what they've learned with their counselor. They are to explain how engineering and simple machines affect their lives.

This post also explains what needs to be done so that your Cub Scout can get his or her Nova patch.

Links to Other Swing! Requirements

Yours in Scouting,

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