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Prepared for the Future
Two humanoid robots hold hand tools

Robonaut2 was designed to use the same tools as humans, which allows the robot to work safely beside humans on Earth and in space. Image Credit: NASA

"Be Prepared" has long been the motto of scouting. But the meaning behind this motto is changing. The term "scout" brings to mind camping, hiking and outdoor activities. The Scout movement has trained young people to be ready for any challenge, to both mind and body. Today's scouts face a new challenge -- the use of technology, which requires critical skills relevant and needed in today's competitive world.

NASA is working with scout groups to develop interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. To help meet this goal, NASA has formed a partnership with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations to develop robotics-related badges.

Boy Scouts now can work with NASA and other technology professionals to design, build and demonstrate a robot to earn the new Robotics merit badge. NASA and Boy Scouts of America developed the badge because of the wide-reaching impact of robotics and its role in STEM careers. The new merit badge is one of 31 STEM-related merit badges for Boy Scouts. They will have access to engineering software and work with mentors worldwide to earn the badge.

Boy Scout Robotics badge

The Robotics merit badge is part of the new technological curriculum emphasis by the Boy Scouts of America. Image Credit: NASA

To earn the Robotics merit badge, a scout is required to design, build, program and test a robot. The scout must record all his work in an engineering notebook that is reviewed by a mentor upon completion. Participating scouts also are encouraged to attend at least one robotics competition. Scouts will spend approximately 14 hours meeting the requirements of the badge. During the first year, the BSA hopes that more than 10,000 Boy Scouts will earn the Robotics merit badge.

Between now and Sept. 30, 2011, BSA and NASA are offering an extra incentive for badge completion. Scouts who complete the new badge requirements may be awarded a Robotics merit badge that flew on the space shuttle Endeavour's last mission (May 16-June 1, 2011). One hundred recipients will be chosen in three random drawings.

"This unique partnership is another clear example of NASA looking at new and creative ways to inspire our youth to consider STEM careers," said Lyndon Bridgwater, NASA aerospace engineer and lead badge contributor from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Girl Scout Robotics patch

NASA and the Girl Scouts of the USA are committed to inspiring young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Image Credit: NASA

Girl Scouts of the USA also has worked with NASA to promote interest and engagement in STEM. More than one-third of Girl Scout councils, or local offices, in the United States have attended training by NASA science experts. These councils have engaged over 100,000 girls in NASA missions and research at centers across the United States as well as at international locations.

Girls Scouts offers two robotics-related patches. The Robotics Participation patch is available to all Girl Scouts on FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, teams who have participated in any FIRST qualifier event, regional event, local tournament or world championship. Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors may earn a Robotics Interest Project patch. To earn a Robotics badge, Girl Scouts must complete seven activities including skill-building activities and a service project.

Related Resources:
› NASA and Scouting
› Space Place: Scouts   →
› NASA and BSA Introduce Robotics Merit Badge   →
› Information for Boy Scouts
› NASA and Boy Scouts of America Unveil New Merit Badge
› Information for Girl Scouts
› Solar System Exploration: Girl Scouts   →
› NASA Careers for Girl Scouts   →

JoCasta Green/NASA Educational Technology Services