Cub Scout earns prestigious STEM Award

Evan and Declan MacDonald


A 10-year-old Riverview Cub Scout’s initiative and intuitiveness has led to a prestigious award and exploration that could help determine what he does in life long after he is done with Scouting.

Declan MacDonald, a fourth-grader at Forest Elementary School, is the recipient of the Dr. Luis Walter Alvarez Supernova Award for STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Declan is a member of Pack 1659 who is working toward his Webelo badge in his fourth year of Scouting. He was presented the award during a recent outdoor ceremony at Young Patriots Park. He follows in the footsteps of older brother Evan, now a Boy Scout, who earned the Charles H. Townes Supernova Award in 2018.

STEM is part of an initiative the Boy Scouts of America has taken in “to encourage the natural curiosity of youth members and their sense of wonder” about the STEM fields through a wide range of existing programs. The STEM Nova Awards were created so that young Scouts can “have fun and receive recognition for their efforts.”

The Scouting website says that “STEM is the future,” filled with great opportunities designed to prepare a Scout to “overcome challenges and ensure for a prosperous and secure future.” Keys to the program are “scientific discovery and technological innovation.” Further, a goal of STEM is to create “the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators.”

 Brad Alderman, Declan’s den leader in Pack 1659, said the young Scout found success by researching programs online while in quarantine during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Declan is a great Cub Scout,” Alderman said. “Declan is a quiet young man, but he is always happy and has fun in Scouting, especially when completing Nova projects. Even during the stay-at-home period this year, Declan stayed active and worked with counselors and mentors through online and phone meetings to work toward the completion of his supernova award.”

Declan is the son of Brian and Koren MacDonald, who is also pack treasurer. Mrs. MacDonald said her son used “virtual technology” for his research, which included meetings with Alderman and counselor Tonya Smith of Riverview. Mrs. MacDonald said the youngster performed a science project, attended classes with a college math professor, interviewed his aunt, Marie Somenauer, about her career as a nurse, explored the importance of science and math and much more.

As for careers, one that sparked his interest the most was forensic accounting, which combines math skills and working with police.

“Declan has always loved math,” Mrs. MacDonald said. “Math has been one thing he enjoys and tends to be ahead in school… He has done some of the other ones, like science and engineering. Math seems to be his favorite.

“There’s so much he can learn.”

Declan, who has a twin brother Kieran, is described by his mother as shy but “very mature for his age.”

“He’s very responsible,” Mrs. MacDonald said. “He always wants to do the right thing… He’s a very good student.”

Den leader Alderman praised Declan’s attention to detail, including wearing his uniform to meetings and events, including his red vest filled with patches.

“He’s proud to show what he’s done,” Alderman said. “He always has a smile on his face and always has a good time when he’s there.”

Declan said he enjoyed learning about STEM award namesake Dr. Alvarez and his theories on dinosaurs, adding he was grateful to win the award.

Riverview Mayor Andrew Swift, who attended the award presentation, praised Declan and other Scouts who make a difference in the city.

“Riverview is very proud to have Scouts like Declan who not only want to improve their community but their minds, too,” the Mayor said. “Riverview Cub Scout Pack 1659 continues to product high-quality Scouts and as Mayor I like to make sure they get as much exposure as possible.”

Alderman said Pack 1659 members take part in a number of community-service projects throughout the year, including those planned by the Riverview Kiwanis Club, which charters the pack.

“Declan has helped the pack with several service projects,” Alderman said, “including distributing school supplies at the end of August with the Riverview Kiwanis, helping with the Kiwanis spaghetti dinners, school holiday activities, Riverview’s tree-lighting ceremony, Wyandotte Christmas parades and helping to raise funds to support dogs in Detroit through the C.H.A.I.N.E.D. Organization.”

During recent months, den meetings were held outdoors at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays. Alderman said depending on the effects of COVID-19, the goal is to get back indoors for meetings soon.

Mrs. MacDonald said Scouting has been a difference maker for her family.

“It’s been really good for all of us,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun and there are a lot of opportunities and new events we wouldn’t have been otherwise exposed to.”

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