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Pencils Down Think outside the book to really rev up the Engineering merit badge.

IN RECENT YEARS, Scouting has increasingly focused on STEM — science, technology, engi- neering and math — a skill set that is vitally important in the digital age. It’s one more way Scouters are preparing kids for life.

But how can you prepare

yourself? And how can you bring excitement to merit badges like Engineering that might seem more scholastic than Scout-like? The best way, as with all merit badges, is to rely on the experts. That’s just what Troop 677 from Gurnee, Ill., did last winter. Rather than faking their way through the Engineering merit badge or bringing a guest speaker to a troop meeting, troop leaders organized a trip to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, which offers a free Engineering merit badge program. “One would think that engineer-

ing is potentially boring — pencils and erasers and management,” says Kirk Morris, the troop committee member who coordinated the trip. “But the way they’ve got the museum laid out, it’s engaging, it’s entertaining and there’s a wide variety of history.” The Harley-Davidson Museum is not the only place to work on the Engineering merit badge, of course. Eight hundred miles away in Marietta, Ga., Lockheed Martin has been offer- ing Engineering merit badge classes for more than a decade. (Aviation and Robotics are also available.) Christopher Howard, an engineer

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group. “We’re available if they have any questions while they’re going through the exhibits,” says Stachewicz, who also serves as a merit badge counselor. The museum created a

workbook for Scouts to fill out as they move through the exhib- its. For most requirements, they are directed to a specific gallery where displays and videos align with what they are supposed to learn. For example, to complete Requirement 2, Scouts must learn about an engineering achieve- ment that has had a major impact on society. The booklet sends them to the museum’s historical galler- ies, which cover Harley-Davidson’s

founders and early engineers, the obstacles they overcame and the influence motorcycles have had on the automotive industry. Lockheed Martin takes a differ-

ent approach by offering a structured

and Troop 750 assistant Scoutmaster who coordinates the program, says thousands of Scouts from across the southeastern United States have attended the clinic. Scouting talked with Howard and Courtney Stachewicz, lead visitor experience associate at the Harley-Davidson Museum, to learn more about how they bring the Engineering merit badge to life — and how you can do the same.

Two Sites, Two Approaches Although the Harley-Davidson Museum has run occasional weekend clinics, its merit badge program is mostly self-directed, with troops typi- cally going through the museum as a

Saturday program each February. Scouts are grouped into patrols named after Lockheed Martin aircraft like the F-16. After an opening ceremony, the patrols attend three interactive lecture sessions: engineering (Requirements 3, 4, 7 and 9), motions and proper- ties (Requirement 6) and design (Requirements 1, 2 and 5). The day ends with a tour of Lockheed’s aircraft production line, which never fails to impress. “The first thing that gets most of them is just the sheer size of the manufacturing floor,” Howard says. “I think it’s 80-something football fields.”

FOR MORE leader’s guides to merit badges, visit scouting

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