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SCOUTMASTER KIM ANDERSON of Everman, Texas, a professional welder himself, says he thinks Scouts will be drawn to the Welding merit badge “once they fi nd out that we are seri- ously burning stuff .” It’s no joke. Scouts learn that the

temperature of a gas-metal arc weld can be somewhere around 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. They learn that the “arc” of light or “fl ame” is not a fl ame but electricity jumping from an electrode to the base metal. The molten metal is brighter than the sun, requiring pro- tection against infrared radiation and ultraviolet rays in the form of safety glasses, gloves, helmets and coats, all provided by Lincoln Electric. “This is a great model of where we

can go in the future,” the BSA’s Evans says, “partnering with other organiza- tions that bring something to the table.”

Protected by the proper gear, Scouts

can gain an up-close-and-personal knowledge of this essential industrial and scientifi c process that has been of primary importance to the U.S. at least since President Woodrow Wilson formed a committee on welding at the outbreak of World War I. While welding remains as critical

as ever to maintaining our infrastruc- ture and to new construction, the workforce of welders has declined, creating both a dilemma for the indus- try and an opportunity for young men and women who want to learn the trade. The average age of a welder in America today is 55. “You know, a lot of boys want to

be businessmen, but not everybody can be Donald Trump,” says John Sprehe, a Scoutmaster who came to the welding training event. “Maybe they’re not

Lincoln Electric invests the time and materials to help Scout leaders have what they need to help guide their Scouts through the Welding merit badge. Camille Travis (opposite page, left), former STEM project manager for the BSA, and Angela Elliott, a Circle Ten Council merit badge counselor and unit commissioner for Five Trails District, listen to fi nal instructions before safety visors are lowered and the welding begins. Scoutmaster John Sprehe (opposite page, right) of Troop 134 from the Longhorn Council examines mandatory weld- ing safety gear. Adult leaders (above) practice the welds they will soon teach Scouts.

going to be professionals, but they’re going to get enough knowledge that they can think about it.” “College is not for everybody,”

says Candace Ortega, a professional welder who teaches welding at Tarrant County College and is a Scouting volunteer. “This is opening another door for the boys.” ¿


How do you get youth interested in science, technology, engineering and math? “You have to think outside the

box,” says Jason Scales, the man who helped conceive the upcoming “chocolate welding” program for Cub Scout day camp that started in August 2014. “Welding is a process of fusing

two materials together, and you could do it with paraffin or maybe a few other things, but why not two choco- late bars?” says Scales, a welding educational specialist

with Lincoln

Electric, the company partnering with the BSA to introduce welding to the Boy Scouts. “This is about creating an

experience where the Scouts can experience welding in a safe environ- ment. There’s a way to do that using chocolate,” he says. The concept surfaced in Europe

and was noticed by members of Lincoln’s educational team, already involved in designing a Welding merit badge for the BSA. For younger boys, the basic process and its uses in the world can be taught using chocolate bars as a stand-in for steel and a bottle of hot water as a heat source. “You melt the edges a little bit and fuse the two together to make one bar,” Scales says. “Depending on the age of the

Scouts, it allows us to get into a discussion of some engineering con- cepts and building shapes.” For example, the physical proper-

ties that make a box 30 to 50 times stronger than a plank can be demon- strated with flat candy bars. “You stack four bars flat and

apply a load,” Scales says, pointing to the small weights used in the experiment. “We can determine how much weight that stack can hold. But if we take three blocks and fuse them into the shape of an ‘I’ (like the I-beams used to build skyscrapers and overpasses) and apply a load, it will hold consistently more weight than four flat bars. “Then you can get into a discus-

sion of how does that work and relate it to bridges, for example,

and to how welding has an impact in their lives. Everything around us welding has touched: the auto that brought them here, the bridge they crossed, the steel building they’re sitting in.” One big difference in the Cub

Scouts program from the BSA merit badge training: When the Cub Scouts have finished the project, they get to eat the materials. “At the end of the day,” Scales says, “we get to have some s’mores.”


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