This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Go ’Bots Scouting’s newest merit badge animates engineering.

LAST OCTOBER, SIX MONTHS before the Robotics merit badge debuted, Rick Tyler could tell that the badge would be a hit. When the Seattle Scouter was testing merit badge require- ments, 35 Scouts signed up for the 10 available slots— even though they knew they wouldn’t get advancement credit and even though Robotics was competing with 20 or so other classes. “I think it’s going to be a

winner for the Scouts,” said Tyler, who advises a robotics Venturing crew and served on the merit badge’s devel- opment team. He’s undoubtedly right.

What Scout wouldn’t enjoy a badge that combines con- struction, competition, and a dash of science fiction? Like many merit badges,

Robotics includes requirements related to safety, general knowledge, and careers, but the heart of the badge is building a working robot or robotic subsystem. “Ninety percent of this merit badge is ‘build a robot and write down what you do with your robot,’ which we think keeps it fun,” Tyler said. Most Scouts probably will build

their robots using kits from LEGO or VEX, the most popular robotics systems on the market. But the word “kit” is something of a misnomer, said Dr. Laszlo Hideg, a Chrysler engineer from Sterling Heights, Mich., who also served on the badge’s develop- ment team. “Take an Erector Set and put it on steroids. That’s a VEX system,” Hideg said. “You have a lot of


electric motors, sensors, wireless com- munication availability, and a small computer processor.” What Scouts build from those

parts depends on their aptitude and interests. A typical robot might launch ping-pong balls, use an electromagnet to move metal objects, or navigate around a tabletop without falling off. Both Tyler and Hideg said that it’s

O.K. for a pair of Scouts to work on a single robot as long as each individual Scout can demonstrate all of the requirements. Hideg stressed that each Scout should be involved in all aspects of the project—electrical, mechanical, and programming. Counselors should ensure that “all the Scouts would be able to look at the project and

describe all of it,” he said. One way Scouts are sup-

posed to describe their robots is through a robot engineer- ing notebook, a journal of the design, construction, and testing phases. This process mirrors what working engineers do, partly to protect their inventions in case of intellectual-property disputes. Staying safe is also important.

The robots most Scouts will build aren’t large enough to cause serious damage, but that doesn’t mean cuts and pinched fingers aren’t a possibility. “Like every shop teacher from the beginning of time, I point out how important it is to protect your eyes,” Tyler said. “You only have two of them, and you don’t grow new ones.” Robotics merit badge is chal-

lenging, but Tyler’s October workshop convinced him that

nearly all Scouts could complete it. “We really did have a random sample of Scouts in this workshop,” he said. “Some of them obviously were ‘A’ students, and some of them obviously were not. But you know what? They all got through it, and they all did a pretty good job. This is not just a merit badge for rocket scientists.” ¿


With a special Web site that was scheduled to launch in April, ROBOTICS MERIT BADGE became the first fully interactive merit badge in BSA history. You and your Scouts can check out to find how-to videos, expert advice, and sources for reduced-cost robotics kits.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52