When I was active in the Scouts many many years ago there wasn’t anything fancy like this.

We did have cool stuff (hiking, camping, fishing, and such, but now, the Scouts have introduced the Robotics merit badge – giving Scouts the opportunity to design, build, and demonstrate a robot of their own creation.

The Robotics merit badge is part of the BSA’s new curriculum emphasis on STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math.

The BSA focus on STEM takes a fun, adventurous approach to helping Scouts develop critical skills that are relevant and needed in today’s competitive world. The new merit badge is one of 31 STEM-related merit badges that Scouts can earn.

“The Robotics merit badge is an example of how Scouting remains true to its roots to help young people be prepared,” said BSA Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca. “While the guiding principles of Scouting–service to others, leadership, personal achievement, and respect for the outdoors–will never change, we continue to adapt programs to prepare young people for success in all areas of life.”

This merit badge involved approximately 14 months of development and input from more than 150 youth members, leaders, and industry professionals from across the nation. Earning the Robotics merit badge requires a Scout to understand how robots move (actuators), how they sense the environment (sensors), and how they understand what to do (programming). Scouts will spend approximately 14 hours meeting the requirements of this merit badge, including that they design a robot and demonstrate how it works.

The BSA anticipates more than 10,000 Robotics merit badges will be earned in its first year.

A full list of the requirements is available at www.scouting.org.

To earn the Robotics merit badge, Scouts must (example only):

  • Explain and discuss hazards and safety prevention
  • Explain how robots are used today
  • Discuss three of the five major fields of robotics (human-robot interface, mobility, manipulation, programming, sensors)
  • Design, build, program, and test their robot
  • Demonstrate the robot, and share the engineering notebook for that robot
  • Attend a robotics competition or do research on robotics competitions
  • Discuss career opportunities in robotics (Must include information on the education, training, and experience required.)

Organizations that assisted in the creation and launch of the Robotics merit badge include:

  • AUVSI Foundation
  • Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy
  • Carnegie Science Center, Roboworld
  • iRobot Corporation
  • LEGO Education North America
  • Museum of Science, Boston
  • NASA
  • National Electronics Museum
  • National Robotics Week
  • Robotics Education and Competition Foundation
  • University of Texas-Dallas, Science and Engineering Education Center
  • VEX Robotics, Inc.