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Welcome to the Bear Den! While each rank in Cub Scouting is referred to as a "den" as a group of people, a "den" is also a place that animals can retreat to and call home. This is your den for the HomeScouting Adventure Club for Bears! 

Bears are boys and girls in the third grade in fall of 2020. When you're ready, get started on your first HomeScouting Adventure!

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There are lots of ways to do just about anything. Let’s say you wanted to put a ball in a cup. The easy way would be to drop it in with your hand. But imagine this solution: You knock over a row of dominos. The last domino bumps into a marble. The marble rolls off a ledge into a bucket that’s attached to a pulley. The bucket whizzes down onto a seesaw, causing it to tip. The motion launches a ball from a small cup on the other end of the seesaw into a second, larger cup, which is in just the right place to catch the ball. Silly? Yes. Fun? Of course! In this adventure, you’ll use your imagination to dream up machines like that. You’ll also learn about some important science concepts that make both silly and serious machines work. So put your brain in gear and get ready to make it move!

Make sure to download the connected worksheet for this month's adventure!

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*required for adventure*

Requirement 1: Create an “exploding” craft stick reaction.

You can make all sorts of things with craft sticks, but one of the most fun things
is a stick “bomb.” What you do is weave together a bunch of craft sticks so they
form a path around the room. When you pull the first stick out of the weave, all
the sticks jump into the air in a chain reaction.


  • Craft Sticks (use different colors to make it easier & fun!)


  1. Make an X out of two craft sticks, one of each color.

  2. Weave in two more sticks, one of each color, using an under/over pattern. The third stick you place should create a tight “V” with the first.

  3. As you add new sticks, keep sticks of the same color parallel to each other. The end should stay locked in place by the “V” at the start

  4. Continue weaving as far as you want to go. Always alternate between going under and over, and match up the tips of the sticks.

  5. You can make turns as you weave; they just have to be gradual. On the outside of the curve, put the tips of each pair of sticks on top of each other. On the inside of the curve, push each new stick in a little farther than before.

  6. To lock the end of the stick “bomb” together, add another diagonal stick at the end. When you’re ready for an explosion put a finger on the first sticks you laid down and pull out the end stick. Let go to start a chain reaction of jumping craft sticks!



Did you notice how weaving the craft sticks together held them in place and how you had to lock them together until you were ready for the explosion? When the sticks are woven together, they have what’s called potential energy, or energy that is stored up. When they spring apart, they have kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion. How long of a chain reaction were you able to make? Did you knock down a stack of cups? How many cups? Was it easier to do this as a team? What would you do differently next time?

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*required for adventure*

Requirement 2: Make two simple pulleys, and use them to move objects.


A pulley is a simple machine that lets you lift objects into the air. It was invented

thousands of years ago but is still used every day. When your den raises a flag on a

flagpole, you use a pulley. When a construction crane lifts girders into the air, it uses a

pulley. In fact, everything from elevators to workout equipment uses pulleys.

A pulley has just a few parts: a wheel, an axle that the wheel turns around, and a rope

or cable. The wheel usually has a groove in it so the rope won’t slide off. Simple pulleys

are useful, but what makes them really cool is when you put pulleys together. When

you use two pulleys to lift an object, the object becomes twice as easy to lift. When you use four pulleys, it becomes four times as easy to lift. With enough pulleys (and enough really, really strong cable), you could actually lift a car off the ground all by yourself!


Here are two simple pulleys you can make:



  • Rolling pin with handles

  • String

  • Heavy book


  1. Wrap the end of the string around the book a couple of times and then tie it snugly.

  2. Place the book on the floor and use the string to lift the book with one hand.

  3. Now, have a partner hold the rolling pin tightly by the handles at chest height.

  4. Loop the string over the top of the rolling pin.

  5. Use the string to pull the book up.


Which way of lifting the book was easier? Did one way take more strength than the other?



  • Two large spools

  • Two pencils or dowels (they must be able to fit in the spool hole and move easily)

  • 30 feet of string or strong yarn

  • An index card

  • A clothespin or clip


  1. Insert a pencil or dowel into each spool, making sure the spool can spin easily.

  2. Tie the two ends of the string or yarn together to form a big loop.

  3. Place the loop around the spools.

  4. Have a partner hold each of the spool pulleys by its pencil or dowel axle.

  5. Stretch your loop until it is tight enough to be straight, but still loose enough to turn.

  6. Write a message on a card and attach it to the string with a clothespin near one pulley.

  7. Gently pull the string to make the string roll over the spools.


See if you can use your pulley system to deliver a message to a friend on the other side of the room. How else could you use this pulley system? How could you secure the pulleys at both ends so your friends don’t have to hold them? What other improvements could you make?


Don't have spools? Make a pulley system using string and carabiners! 


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*required for adventure*

Requirement 3: Make a lever by creating a seesaw using a spool and a wooden paint stirrer. Explore the way it balances by placing different objects on each end.


What’s a lever? That’s a fancy term for the science that makes a playground seesaw work.

The fulcrum is the hinge or balancing point. The lever is the board.


As you’ve probably figured out on the playground, if an object is farther from the fulcrum,

it takes a smaller force to produce the same work. When you get on the seesaw with

someone who’s a lot bigger than you, he has to sit closer to the fulcrum for the seesaw to

balance. When you sit very far from the fulcrum, you can lift a heavier person at the other

end. (With a really long seesaw, you could even lift a 300-pound football player!)


That principle, called leverage, is why levers are so useful. You can find levers in all sorts

of places, including a pair of scissors, a crowbar, a hammer pulling a nail, a wheelbarrow, a

bottle opener, a nutcracker, and even your own jaw. (There are three classes of levers, so

these things don’t all work exactly the same way.)




  • Paint stirrer

  • Pencil Spool (the edges should be wider than the paint stirrer)

  • Rubber band

  • Small weights or other objects


  1. Find the middle of the paint stirrer and mark it with the pencil.

  2. Hold the spool on the line you just drew.

  3. Lay the rubber band over the paint stirrer and loop it over each end of the spool. (This will hold the spool and paint stirrer together.)


Congratulations! You’ve just made a lever! Now, experiment with it by adding weights or other objects to each end. How easy is it to get the lever to balance? What happens if the weight on one end is too heavy?


After you’ve played with your lever for a while, move the spool closer to one end of the paint stirrer. How does that change the way the lever works? Do you see why levers can be useful tools?




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*required for adventure*

Requirement 4: Design a Rube Goldberg-type machine. Include at least six steps to complete your action. Then take it a step further and build a Rube-Goldberg machine that does a simple task!

Rube Goldberg was an amazing inventor, engineer, and cartoonist who lived in the 20th century. He was famous for dreaming up really complicated machines to do simple things like scratching your back or using a napkin. For this requirement, you will dream up two Rube Goldberg-type machines. The first one will just be on paper, like a Rube Goldberg comic strip, so you can make it as crazy as you want. The second one, which you’ll make with your den, should actually work.


Here’s how to make a Rube Goldberg machine:

  1. Choose a simple task like drying your face, putting on a hat, or opening a door.

  2. Decide what working elements you want to include. These could include chain reactions, pulleys, levers, ramps, and more.

  3. Add your imagination! How could you use those elements in fun ways? How could you include building blocks, toy cars, string, or other items in your design?

  4. Draw your first machine on paper. 


Construct a Rube Goldberg-type machine to complete a task! Use at least two simple machines and include at least four steps.

Rube Goldberg was an amazing inventor, engineer, and cartoonist who lived in the 20th century. He was famous for dreaming up really complicated machines to do simple things like scratching your back or using a napkin. For this requirement, you will dream up two Rube Goldberg-type machines. The first one will just be on paper, like a Rube Goldberg comic strip, so you can make it as crazy as you want. The second one, which you’ll make with your den, should actually work.


Here are some tips for making a machine:

  • Keep the task simple. The machine is supposed to be complicated, not the task!

  • Work together and listen to everyone’s ideas.

  • A Scout is thrifty. Look for things around you that you can use, like craft sticks, marbles, dominos, building blocks, cereal boxes, mailing tubes, yogurt cups, and water bottles.

  • Avoid anything dangerous (fire, chemicals, mousetraps, etc.).

  • Build the machine on a drop cloth in case things get messy.

  • It’s OK if your machine doesn’t work the first time. A lot of what inventors do is figure out what won’t work.

Do this activity with your family or den!


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From space probes to underwater exploration, from medicine to manufacturing, from law enforcement to search and rescue, robots are highly useful in people’s lives today and will be an even bigger part of our lives in the future. Robotics—the technology of designing, building, and operating computer-controlled robots—is a large and growing field.


The uses for robots seem almost endless. In agriculture, robots cultivate and harvest fields. In the mining industry, robots do the dirty work of digging and hauling mineral deposits. In microelectronics manufacturing, robots perform precision assembly work where parts must be placed exactly in making components. In medicine, robots perform delicate surgery around nerves, on the eyes, and on other vital organs.

When we think of robots, we almost always think of human-like figures that have arms and legs and talk in funny voices. But robots come in many shapes and sizes, from one-armed machines that look like construction cranes to roving navigators that can travel over rocks and sand. So what exactly is a robot? It’s a machine that operates automatically and does jobs humans don’t want to do or can’t do. In this adventure, you will learn about robots and, even better, you’ll get to build your own. Your robot will be simple, but maybe someday you will build a robot to clean up your bedroom or do your homework!

Make sure to download the connected worksheet for this month's adventure!

For this adventure, do FOUR of the following activities


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Requirement 1: Identify six tasks performed by robots.

What comes to mind when you think about robots? What robots have you seen on TV or in movies? Do you have a robotic toy at home, or does your parent work with robots on the job? Working with your den leader or another adult, learn more about real robots. 

On a separate paper, like your connected worksheet, list at least six tasks of robots.


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Requirement 2: Learn about some instances where a robot could be used in place of a human for work. Research one robot that does this type of work, and present what you learn to your den.

Do you remember how we said that a robot is a machine that does jobs so humans don’t have to? Those jobs usually fall into four categories, sometimes referred to as the "four D's": dangerous, dirty, dull, and difficult.


Robots often do jobs that are too dangerous for humans to perform. Robots can also go places humans can't, like the bottom of the ocean or the surface of another planet. Law enforcement officers use robots to detonate or defuse bombs. NASA has sent several robots, called rovers, to Mars to study the planet's climate and geology. 



There are also places humans can go but would rather avoid. For example, robots are used to inspect sewer pipes and storage tanks for cracks or clogs. That's a stinky, dirty job for a human; but for a robot, that's all in a day's work!


Imagine spending your entire day screwing lids onto juice bottles. Robots are excellent at doing boring jobs quickly and easily. They can cap bottles, glaze doughnuts, paint cars, and even pick up things and move them around. You might even have a robot at home that vacuums the floors!



Robots can also do tasks that humans find too complex or difficult. Some robots have the power to lift huge amounts of materials and transport them where they are needed. Other robots help doctors perform delicate surgeries. Some can even travel through your body taking pictures along the way so your doctor can see whether you have any illnesses or diseases. 

Choose one of these four categories of tasks. Then, with your parent’s or guardian’s help, research one specific robot that performs those tasks. Create a visual presentation of what you have learned, and share it with your family or members of your den..


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Requirement 3: Build a robot hand. Show how it works like a human hand and how it is different from a human hand.


Most robots are very complicated machines, but you can make a simple robot hand with some materials you probably have at home.


  • Drinking straws, plus 1 "smoothie straw" if readily available

  • Cardstock

  • Tape

  • Scissors

  • String


  1. Print the hand on cardstock or trace a hand of an adult on cardstock  and cut it out

  2. Fold the fingers along the joint lines.

  3. Cut the drinking straws into 14 pieces that are approximately 1 inch long to fit in between each of the finger joints. 

  4. Cut the string into 18″ long pieces. If you want, you can use 5 different colors so you will know which string controls which finger.

  5. Thread each piece of string through each piece of straw. 

  6. Tear off pieces of tape long enough to go over the straw and wrap around the back of the finger.  

  7. Carefully put the string/straw combos on one of the fingers. Then tape one straw piece onto each section of the finger. Make sure that the pieces aren't too close together, or the finger won't be able to bend well. The tape should wrap all the way around the finger so it doesn't fall off when pulling on each string.

  8. When the pieces are taped onto one finger, fold about 1 1/2″ of the string over the end of the finger and tape it to the back.

  9. Continue taping the straw pieces onto the hand. 

  10. When all of the pieces have been taped on, thread all 5 string through the smoothie straw piece. You can do this one at a time or all at once. Tape the smoothie straw piece onto the palm of the hand.


Photo and instruction credit: Cub Scout Ideas


How is your robotic hand similar to a real hand? How is it different?


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Requirement 4: Build your own robot.


With help from your den leader, parent, or another adult, build a robot. You can buy

a robot kit or use ordinary household items to create your own. What is the purpose

of your robot? Does it handle one of the jobs you learned about in requirement 3?

How well does it do its job? What improvements could you make?

Remember to think about safety before you start building and while you are working. Wear safety glasses while you are building your robot, and ask an adult to help you with tools. Always disconnect the batteries or unplug the power cord while you are working on your robot and after you are done using it.



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Requirement 5: Visit a place that uses robots.


Robots don’t just exist in science fiction movies. They exist down the street. With the help of your parent or den leader, find a company, school, or organization that uses robots, and make a visit. Find out how and why the robots are used. If possible, watch the robots in action, and talk with the people who operate them.

Watch our Robotics Webinar with NASA Engineer Tim Jace from

Cyber Summer Camp  for this requirement

About Tim

Tim Jace is an engineer for NASA. Tim and his team work specifically on the Commercial Crew Program which is a partnership to develop and fly human space transportation systems. Sound familiar? The Commerical Crew Program in partnership with SpaceX launched U.S. astronauts into space from U.S. soil for the first time on May 27, 2020! Check out the photos of Marc on launch day with his mission patch!

Watch the launch and explore the pre-camp mission if you haven't already here

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