Boy Scouts create magical STEM bus

Education |  2 min. read

No, this isn’t Pete Townshend’s “Magic Bus” (but if that put you in the mood for a little vintage Who, we’ve got you covered:  Magic Bus).

This bus has REAL magic going on though – it’s a STEM Scouts Mobile Lab.  (“STEM” being Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  “Scouts” being the Boy Scouts.)

(Photo from STEM Scouts)

Boys AND girls, from elementary school to high school seniors, can find magic to create on this bus, which is a project of the Samoset Council Scouts, covering a chunk of north central Wisconsin (around Wausau, if you know the state).  And this bus has a name:  Vortex.

On the bus?  Kids can work on 3-D printing or genetics – build and program a robot or build a bridge (no programming for those) – electric circuitry or “the world of goo” – learn about launch angles, with a catapult – make a paper helicopter – design (and build) a hydraulic arm that can pick up and move things – there’s even Play-Doh (as in, the chemistry of).

The STEM Scouts program is a mix of activities – hands-on science, field trips, work with STEM professionals, and in the Samoset program, a lab that comes to the kids.  Students meet weekly, and take on subjects in modules of 4 to 6 weeks.  Over the course of each module, the students rotate through the different roles on their team:  Principal Investigator, Co-PI, Project Manager and Technician—so each student, boy and girl, gets the full range of experience.  And if you’re wondering, yes, STEM Scouts DO have merit badges – they’re just electronic badges.

By the way, if you think YOUR kids might like the lab-coat-and-goggles-look, Wisconsin is just one of 23 states where STEM Scouts operates.  You can check to see if your state/city is on their list here:

(Photo from STEM Scouts)

What got this STEM bus going, was a contribution from the Paul and Ruth Schultz Foundation, in Wausau.

What gets this lab on wheels to the next generation of scientists and engineers, wherever they may be today—that’s the contribution fuels make.