Cub Scout Activities: Webelos & AOL Elective, Adventures in Science

At the very beginning of our Webelos year, I told my Scouts that they could vote on and determine the electives we’d complete throughout the year. In the back of my mind, I almost dreaded the day that they’d choose Adventures in Science. Why? I harkened back to my high school chemistry class and got full-body chills. Instead of burying my head in the sand, I decided it was an opportunity to embrace something I didn’t feel completely comfortable with, do my research, and give my Scouts an experience they wouldn’t forget.

That year, I went as a Quirky Quarks Labratory Scientist to our Pack Trunk-or-Treat. In the end, Adventures in Science was a tremendous success that did not, in fact, blow up in my face.

I consider myself to be a fairly creative person, but even I know when it’s time to lean on the professionals who invented the wheel, shared the blueprints, and smiled the whole time. This post is a good mixture of my own tried and true tweaks and their extreme generosity, with credit erupting like that awesome volcano experiment we all did in elementary school.

Adventures in Science Elective Adventure Requirements

  1. An experiment is a “fair test” to compare possible explanations. Draw a picture of a fair test that shows what you need to do to test a fertilizer’s effects on plant growth.
  2. Visit a museum, a college, a laboratory, an observatory, a zoo, an aquarium, or other facility that employs scientists. Prepare three questions ahead of time, and talk to a scientist about his or her work.
  3. Complete any four of the following:
      a. Carry out the experiment you designed for Requirement 1.
      b. If you completed 3A, carry out the experiment again but change the independent variable. Report what you learned about how changing the variable affected plant growth.
      c. Build a model solar system. Chart the distances between the planets so that the model is to scale. Use what you learned from this requirement to explain the value of making a model in science.
      d. With adult supervision, build and launch a model rocket. Use the rocket to design a fair test to answer a question about force or motion.
      e. Create two circuits of three light bulbs and a battery. Construct one as a series circuit and the other as a parallel circuit.
      f. Study the night sky. Sketch the appearance of the North Star (Polaris) and the Big Dipper (part of the Ursa Major constellation) over at least six hours (which may be spread over several nights). Describe what you observed, and explain the meaning of your observations.
      g. With adult assistance, explore safe chemical reactions with household materials. Using two substances, observe what happens when the amounts of the reactants are increased.
      h. Explore properties of motion on a playground. How does the weight of a person affect how fast they slide down a slide or how fast a swing moves? Design a fair test to answer one of those questions.
      i. Read a biography of a scientist. Tell your den leader or the other members of your den what the scientist is famous for and why his or her work is important.

This is a direct copy and paste from usscouts.org, where you can print a PDF and/or DOCX workbook of this adventure. My den completed the bolded requirements to earn this pin.

Den Leader Materials

For In-Person Meetings

If you’re able to meet in-person for this elective, you’re about to have a lot of fun! You can complete all of the bolded requirements above. Here’s what you’ll need:

For Virtual Meetings

We’re all meeting virtually these days, and this allows you some great opportunities to use new technology and digital resources to complete adventures. It’s difficult to complete the circuits requirement (3e) virtually, but you should be able to easily cover the rest. This includes the museum visit in requirement 2! You’ll need everything above, plus the following:

A Few Notes Regarding This Adventure

Remember my trepidation? I hope all of the materials above prove that I dug deep to find a way to enjoy this adventure alongside my AOLs. We started this in March, so half of it was completed before COVID-19 closed schools and shut down our in-person adventuring. We made the best of it and managed to complete the pin with a series of virtual meetings. For instance, we completed circuits in person, but I built and tested the rocket launcher virtually. It’s tough but possible! Here are some notes regarding this adventure.

Simple Circuits

Of all of the activities, my Scouts enjoyed building circuits the most. My son has his circuit sitting on his desk and he fiddles with it just about every day. I used the Cub Scout Ideas’ Simple Circuit Project Tutorials to complete this requirement. Here were my supplies:

Testing my LEDs before the meeting! I did this for almost an hour. You will, too.

Paper Rockets and Launcher

Again, extreme props where they are due because the Cub Scout Ideas’ Tutorial for an Air Rocket Launcher and Paper Rockets simply cannot be improved upon. Sherry’s tutorials are top-notch and this is no exception. In fact, we got our paper rockets to launch at least 90′ into the air, which was impressive even when it was streamed virtually. I suggest cutting out as many fins as possible from thin cardboard boxes in your recycling. This is a great job to task parents with! I purchased all of the materials suggested in the tutorial for under $10 at Home Depot and had parents asking for the link when our meeting was over – several have now built one for themselves and have been sending me photos and videos of some inspiring launches.

If you intend on using empty 2L soda bottles for this activity, consider doing your Coke and Mentos Fountain first!

Seriously – how awesome is that thing?

Coke and Mentos Fountain

The printable on Compound Chem’s “The Secrets of the Coke and Mentos Fountain” page is a tremendous help in explaining the why’s behind this interesting chemical reaction. Seeing is believing, and the fountain conveys well both in-person and virtually. We used store-brand 2L sodas with great success! According to Compound Chem, Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper is a real show-stopper, but we found that regular diet soda versus any number of other sodas gives you quite the bang for your buck. We had to do this virtually and later had Scouts and their families sending in pictures and videos of their OWN fountains.

Diet Coke for the win for one Scout family!

Virtual Scavenger Hunt Challenge

My Adventures in Science, NOVA Award Science Everywhere!: Virtual Scavenger Hunt Challenge was designed to help my Scouts earn both the Adventures in Science pin and the Science Everywhere NOVA module. I did quite a bit of research to ensure I pulled in many different types of science and linking Scouts up with safe and engaging websites. If you use it, please let me know what you thought!

Make sure you download a copy of this to your own Google Forms or local computer before filling it out!

I hope that at least some of this is helpful, and that it saved you a few minutes of your weekly hour of Scouting. Enjoy all of it in good health!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I have personally purchased and used the products I suggest.

Published by Look Wider Still

Rebekah is the mother of two wonderful sons, Michael and Nathan. She and her husband, Mike, married in 2002 and have built their family on a foundation of adventure. Between geocaching, camping, hiking, cooking, and loving their Irish Terrier, Bentley, the family has a long and happy career in Scouting. With Eagles on all sides, the boys are both experienced Scouters, Mike has extensive den leadership and Pack Committee experience under his belt, and Rebekah has served as den leader and Cubmaster for Pack 521 out of Mechanicsville, Virginia.

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