Boy Scouts Become Mad Scientists to Earn Science Merit Badge

Twenty-one Boy Scouts from the Mesa, Arizona area recently came together to earn a Merit Badge in Nuclear Science. Yes, Nuclear Science.

This lesson wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

The scouts built electroscopes and cloud chambers to earn their badge.

They also had to learn about radiation, radiation hazards, radiation safety; define terms like “atom,” “gamma ray,” & “beta particle;” construct a 3-D model of an element from the periodic table; and discuss modern particle physics and how nuclear energy is used to make electricity. That’s just the first four bullet points in the checklist of requirements.

Here’s one of the bullet points from the checklist –

Using a radiation survey meter and a radioactive source, show how the counts per minute change as the source gets closer to or farther from the radiation detector. Place three different materials between the source and the detector, then explain any differences in the measurements per minute. Explain how time, distance, and shielding can reduce an individual’s radiation dose.

This isn’t your father’s Boy Scout Merit Badge. In two days the boys worked hard, learned a lot and had a lot of fun.

We were proud to donate Tie Dye Lab Coats to help the scouts get their mad scientist on. We had nothing to do with the rainbow wig.

Congratulations to all of the Boy Scouts and their fearless leaders for a job well done and an amazing lesson in nuclear science.

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