Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge is one of three other schools in East Tennessee that have opened STEM Scouts Labs. The other two new participants are Karns Middle School and Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School.
That brings the total number of STEM Scouts Labs in the area to seven, a press release said. Oak Ridge High School and Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy already have STEM Scouts Labs.
STEM Scouts is a co-ed after-school program by the Boy Scouts of America that uses hands-on learning to show youth from elementary through high school how to apply STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) in their everyday lives and encourages them to develop those experiences into a future career, the press release said. The program uses the Scout Oath and Scout Law as its cornerstone.
“We are very happy to see STEM Scouts growing, “ said April McMillan, national co-director of STEM programs for the Boy Scouts of America. “We are the first in the nation to test this program, so we are pleased to see it taking off like this. We’ve had very positive feedback from students, teachers, and parents. We hope to open several more labs before the end of the year.”
The STEM Scouts are split into three divisions: elementary school (third through fifth grade), middle school (sixth through eighth grade), and high school (ninth through 12th grade). Labs are divided into 4- or 6‐week modules covering a variety of topics from building trebuchets to making ice cream using chemistry. Adult volunteers (trained by STEM Scouts staff) run the labs.
The program also incorporates opportunities for presentations by STEM professionals, field trips, and other unique ways of instilling interest and fueling excitement in these subjects.
“We believe that community involvement is key to success,” said National Co-Director Trent Nichols. “As with traditional Boy Scouts programs, STEM Scouts relies on volunteers to keep the content fun and engaging. We have a great relationship with UT-Battelle, which runs Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and are building relationships with other local businesses to sponsor and lead labs.”