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requirements list, you’ll mainly find sedentary verbs like describe, discuss, or define. The active stuff is at the bottom: build, visit, create. Most merit badge instruc- tors, Bush says, devote too much time to the top of the list. “We had to understand that the usual way merit badges are attacked in Scouts is from the top to the bottom,” he says. “Scouts spend a lot of time on the research side, and they never really explore the vocational side of it. We wanted to attack it from the opposite direction.” Another change: Not every merit badge offered can be com- pleted in two Saturdays. Personal Management, for example, requires Scouts to track income, expenses, and savings for 13 con- secutive weeks. Bush, an Eagle Scout, says only offering merit badges that can be finished in two days misses the point. “We’re not a merit badge

delivery system,” he says. “Counselors are not vending machines. You’re trying to give kids a spike in the brain and get their interest level up.” Still, post-event surveys show

95 percent of Scouts who attend the expo complete their merit badges within 90 days. That’s because counselors provide homework assignments before the event, and they follow up with the 12 Scouts in their class after it’s over to make sure they’re not hitting any snags while finishing requirements. Despite these unusual touches, Bush doesn’t see his event as one-of-a-kind. “It’s replicable,” he says. “Every

community has these resources. Just ask yourself: ‘How can we tap into them?’”


LEARN MORE about the Math Science Technology Merit Badge and Career Expo at

SCOUTING: What will it take to achieve this goal? B.H.: Well, it’s going to take a con- certed effort on the part of everyone

LOOK FORa complete rundown on this exciting new opportunity for your Scouts at STEM-NOVA.

who wants to make a difference. Every speech I give, I issue a call to action. If all of us do one thing, no matter how small, we can make a difference. If you’re an engineer and all you do is go to an elementary school and tell kids what you do, I think that 20 years from now, 100 years from now, this will be an entirely different world.

‘The geeks? The geeks rule the world! Every major technology company is headed by a geek.’

SCOUTING: Not every kid will walk in outer space. How can adults get kids pumped up about studying these STEM subjects? B.H.: It’s important to get to know young people and find ways that they can get to know themselves. When the BSA takes a young man out on an excursion or requires him to do certain things to get a merit badge, you get to know these kids. And they get to know themselves. That’s the best place to start directing them into fields where they’ll want to go.

SCOUTING: Where can our adults find resources to help the kids get involved? B.H.: I hate to sound self-serving, but they can go to our Web site [theharris] to find links to our programs and links to other Web sites for parents, teachers, and students. And if you type “STEM” into Google, there are plenty of these programs available.

SCOUTING: It goes back to your “real heroes” concept. B.H.: Again, this sounds like a com- mercial for Scouting, but that’s what this organization is all about—to lay a foundation to bring these heroes into the fray to influence, in a positive way, young people’s lives.

SCOUTING: Do you think Scout leaders have to be familiar with STEM topics to get kids motivated? B.H.: I don’t think so, but it certainly helps. And I’m pretty sure that you’ve got them. But part of this STEM- NOVA program will highlight that fact. Leaders can take advantage of their own skill sets; I bet a number of them already have.

SCOUTING: What’s the most important thing an adult can do to raise aware- ness of the program? B.H.: I think each council, each leader, probably will have their own methods of getting the word out among Scouts and their families— that it exists, that it’s a priority, that it’s something not only in the interest of the Boy Scouts of America but also in the national interest. Moving our kids forward, that’s the No. 1 thing. ¿

JOHN R. CLARK is Scouting magazine’s Managing Editor.

 2012 ¿ SCOUTING


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