Even though the Webelos and Arrow of Light Adventures in Science elective adventure has been retired, visiting scientists is still a fun STEM activity for Cub Scouts. Here are 15 not-so-obvious options for your Cub Scouts!
Scientists do some cool work in cool places, and it's fun to visit them to see what they do. But finding a place can be difficult. Here are 15 suggestions for you.
My friend Betsy invited my son to participate with her pack when they worked on the Supernova awards. Her husband is a researcher at a local university, and we got to visit his lab. The boys learned about the work that his group does, and they got to do some experiments themselves.
We're fortunate that we live in a large city with lots of organizations that employ scientists. But I know that many of you live in more rural areas and may not have as many options.
That makes it difficult to find a place that employs scientists. I was talking to a group of friends about this, and they helped me brainstorm some options that might be available to you.
These are in no particular order. You may not have access to all of them, but hopefully, this will give you some ideas beyond those listed in the handbook and leaders' guide.
Don't forget that the scientist can come to a den meeting if the Cub Scouts can't do a visit.
Where Scientists Work
- High School Chemistry or Biology Lab
- Forestry Departments
- Doctors' or Dentists' Offices
- Health Departments
- Veterinarians' Offices
- Farmers' Co-Ops
- National Parks
- Police Departments
- Agricultural Extension Services
- Electricity Companies
- Conservation Departments
- Water Treatment Plants
- Sewage Disposal Departments
- Wildlife Resources Department
1. High School Chemistry or Biology Lab
The year that our day camp had a science theme, I asked the chemistry teacher if she and some of her students might be willing to do some science demonstrations for us at camp. They were more than willing to help!
2. Forestry Departments
Foresters use science to help grow, manage, and protect healthy forest ecosystems. In addition to the U.S. Forest Service, states also have forestry departments.
3. Doctors' or Dentists' Offices
Many doctors and dentists have an in-office lab.
If your community has a hospital, you may be able to visit their lab.
5. Health Departments
States and counties have health departments that employ scientists.
6. Veterinarians' Offices
Just like humans, our animal friends often need lab tests to keep them healthy.
7. Farmers' Co-Ops
Co-ops often employ nutritionists and agronomists.
8. National Parks
Scientists work for the National Park Service to help manage our natural resources.
9. Police Departments
Your local police department may employ or have access to a forensic scientist.
10. Agricultural Extension Services
These services help move scientific research from the lab to the field by educating local farmers and gardeners. I found that the University of Tennessee has an office in every county in our state. Your state probably has a university with an agricultural extension service.
11. Electricity Companies
Your local electricity company or electric co-op may have scientists who can talk to your Cub Scouts.
12. Conservation Departments
Our state Conservation Department has an online tool to request a visit from an environmental scientist. It also has a “green field trip map,” showing “sites that support environmental education goals, including nature centers, parks, recycling facilities, and more.” Check your state's website to see what they offer.
13. Water Treatment Plants
Find out where your closest water treatment plant is. Your den may be able to tour the plant.
14. Sewage Disposal Departments
I found our local sewage disposal department on my county government's website. Their directory lists the employees who are “soil scientists.”
15. Wildlife Resources Department
Wildlife resources departments employ scientists who manage, conserve, and study wildlife populations and habitats.
I hope this list gave you some ideas of places to take your Cub Scouts when you're working on STEM activities! Let me know what other places you've found scientists.
Yours in Scouting,
Wednesday 23rd of February 2022
Thanks for such a great informative list! This has been a hold up for Webelos dens in the past, but my current den is wanting to work on the electives that will be retired this year and this list greatly helps!
Saturday 16th of June 2018
We talked to a scientist at the Space Center in Huntsville Alabama who was a retored volunteer docent. If anyone is in the area.... check it ou!! Also, the people wearing the white lab coats are the real scientists. The people wearing the blue jumpsuits are just ppl that work there. :)
Tuesday 26th of June 2018
We LOVE the Space Center! I live just outside of Nashville now, and I grew up in Florence. :) My sister was a Space Camp counselor when she was in college. It's a great place. Thanks for the tip about the lab coats--I never knew that.