By Sally Absher

It’s not your Daddy’s Boy Scouts program. STEM Scouts is a co-ed after-school program under the Boy Scouts of America that uses hands-on learning to show youth from elementary through high school how to apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in their everyday lives. The program uses the South Oath and Scout Law as its cornerstone.

Oak Ridge High School and Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy (lower and upper school) were the first schools in the nation to have STEM Scout Labs.

This month, three additional schools in the East Tennessee area have opened STEM Scouts Labs – Karns Middle School, Robertsville Middle School, and Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School. Karns and Robertsville Middle Schools each have two weekly sessions, or “Labs”, bringing the total number of Labs to eight in our area.

According to their website (, “Using experiential activities and interaction with STEM professionals, the goal of the STEM Scouts program is to encourage the natural curiosity of young minds and their interest in STEM fields. It is hoped that their growing knowledge will translate into the STEM-related careers that are so crucial to our country’s future economy. While the program focuses on future careers in STEM, it is ultimately designed to be challenging, thought-provoking, and most importantly, fun.”

STEM Scout Labs are split into three divisions: elementary (grades 3-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). Labs are divided into 4-to 6-week learning modules covering a variety of topics ranging from building trebuchets to making ice cream using chemistry. Adult volunteers (trained by STEM Scouts staff) run the Labs. The STEM Scouts have weekly meetings, and take monthly field trips.

“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.”

“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.”

For more information on STEM Scouts, please visit or email