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Input Requested on Revision of Scouts BSA Electricity and Electronic Merit Badges

By Walter Hyde

IEEE has a long history of supporting Scouting programs. The National Scout Jamboree is typically held about every four years, with IEEE participation spanning over 40 years. IEEE members were involved in a previous rewrite of the Electricity Merit Badge’s official requirements. And now, members have an opportunity to provide input to revisions of both the Electricity Merit Badge and/or the Electronics Merit Badge requirements and pamphlets.

As critical part of the advancement program of the Scouts BSA, Scouting Skills Merit Badges are one of the most unique educational tools ever devised. Advancement is the process by which a Scout (including girls and boys) progresses from rank to rank. Everything done to advance and earn higher ranks in Scouts BSA, including earning Merit Badges, is designed to help youth have an exciting and meaningful experience.

The advancement method encourages Scouts to accomplish a progression of fun and motivational tasks. Earning these recognitions allows Scouts to explore a wide variety of fields (there are currently 138 Merit Badges available to pursue), helps them round out their skills, and introduces them to subjects that may become lifelong interests or rewarding careers. The latest study by Harris Poll found that “64% of Alumni indicate the experiences they had in Scouting had a positive effect on their career choice.”

Revising the Electricity and Electronics Merit Badge Requirements

To stay current with the latest information and technology, merit badge requirements and pamphlets are revised as needed by teams of subject matter experts and approved by the Scouts BSA Advancement. As one of several follow-ons to the National Scout Jamboree 2023, I am honored to have been invited to participate on the teams that will rewrite both the Electricity Merit Badge and the Electronics Merit Badge. In turn, I invite IEEE members to provide input for consideration for inclusion in both pamphlets that are being revised.

If you are interested in giving input, please fill out the questionnaire at this link:

Jamboree 2023 Success Leads to Spinoffs

Lighted Electricity & Electronics Patch

Beyond inspiring numerous girls and boys with several exhibits at the Electricity and Electronic booth at the Jamboree in the summer of 2023, several Scouts earned either the Electricity or Electronics Merit Badge. One of the most successful Unique Selling Points (USPs) was an activity where Scouts assembled components on a small, printed circuit board, and learned to solder. The assembly had a blinking light, which was attached through a cloth patch. If you’ve ever been to a Jamboree, you know that patches and patch trading is a very big part of the event. There were more than 200 exhibits, events and activities for the Scouts to choose from. Electricity & Electronics was rated as one of the top STEM exhibits, and we were told this was one patch the Scouts were not willing to trade. Once Scouts started seeing other Scouts with the blinking patch, our booth was often overwhelmed with Scouts coming to make a patch.

Since the Jamboree, several spinoffs have developed, including at least eight activity events replicating the patch assembly/soldering throughout the country.

Many of the adult Scouters accompanying the youth were inspired by what was being done at our booth, leading more than two dozen of them throughout the United States and internationally to agree to collaborate on more Electricity or Electronics STEM activities, resources, etc.

We are one of a few STEM exhibitors invited to return this summer and teach Electricity and Electronics activities to Scouters and Scouts to take back to their home councils to provide to others.

Some of these spinoffs may present further opportunities for IEEE members to volunteer. Such activities typically can use pre-planning help, as well as support for events that last half a day to a weekend in duration. If you are interested, please fill out the link above to have your name added to the list of potential collaborators.


Walter Hyde

Walter Hyde is an IEEE Life Senior Member and a Sam Houston Area Council Committee Member. He is also National Scout Jamboree 2023 Electricity & Electronics Exhibit Team Lead.

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