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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Adventures in Science Leadership Packet (free PDF): this includes information to cover requirements 1, 3d, 3e, and 3i
- A scheduled trip to a local museum, college, laboratory, etc. as noted in requirement 2
- NASA eClips Video “Real World: Scaling the Solar System” for requirement 3c
- NASA’s Solar System Scroll Tutorial for requirement 3c
- PBS.org Science Trek Video “Force and Motion” for requirement 3d
- Cub Scout Ideas’ Tutorial for an Air Rocket Launcher and Paper Rockets for requirement 3d
- Cub Scout Ideas’ Simple Circuit Project Tutorials for requirement 3e
- Compound Chem’s “The Secrets of the Coke and Mentos Fountain” article and tutorial for requirement 3g
- Customized meeting plans for: Meetings 1 and 2, and Meetings 3 and 4 (free PDFs)
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:
- Adventures in Science PowerPoint Presentation (free PPT): this includes slides to support this adventure, including an opening ceremony and links to some of the video resources mentioned in the “in-person” materials above. This presentation has materials for three total virtual meetings and can be edited to suit your needs. It is formatted to use the Burbank Big Condensed Bold and Schoolbell free fonts.
- An online meeting platform, like Zoom or Skype. (Learn more about each platform in my posts “Scouting Tech: Online Conferencing Tools for Virtual Meetings” and “Scouting Tech: Youth Protection in a Virtual World”.)
- My Adventures in Science, NOVA Award Science Everywhere!: Virtual Scavenger Hunt Challenge (fillable Google Doc) for requirement 2
- A constructed Air Rocket Launch and Paper Rockets using the Cub Scout Ideas tutorials linked above so you can stream the fair test in requirement 3d during your virtual meeting
- Several types of Coke (I used a variety of store brand sodas) and enough Mentos to drop 12 candies into each bottle (I suggest sticking them to a long piece of gift wrapping tape so you can quickly drop them in before the explosion begins) to stream a fair test for requirement 3g during your virtual meeting
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.
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:
- 4″ x 6″ cardboard rectangles, cut from cereal boxes in my recycling (they will make the circuits on the unprinted side of cardboard)
- Copper Foil Tape, 1/4″
- Panasonic 3 Volt Lithium Coin Batteries (20 pack)
- Clear LED Bulbs, 5mm, multicolor (100 pack) this may seem like a lot of bulbs, but some colors draw more battery power than others and I found testing different bulbs made the activity even more interesting
- regular gift wrapping tape
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!
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.
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!
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,
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