STEM Merit Badge Day draws more than 250 Scouts
October 31, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - More than 250 Boy Scouts from surrounding states gathered at Aberdeen Proving Ground Oct. 20 for the second annual STEM Merit Badge Day.
Volunteers from Team APG and the Baltimore Area Council of Boy Scouts of America organized the event. Volunteers helped Scouts, ages 11-18, earn merit badges in one of 16 science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, related fields.
Last year, Boy Scouts of America incorporated elements of STEM in its advancement, or merit badge, programs. The aim is to expose youth to opportunities, help them develop skills critical for the competitive world market, and to increase an interest in STEM subjects by making them relevant and fun.
The day began with opening ceremonies at Shore Park. A color guard from Troop 973 and 936 led the audience in reciting the Scout Oath and Law and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Maryland State Senator Barry Glassman, a member of the Baltimore Area Council Board, welcomed attendees to Harford County, and thanked the service men and women and Department of Defense civilians who volunteered their time to teach the Scouts. He added that Harford County has a long tradition of working with Aberdeen Proving Ground and the Boy Scouts of America.
"As you progress through your education you will not only have job opportunities on Aberdeen Proving Ground, but we envision Harford County as having research facilities and incubators off campus, with high paying science and technology jobs." Glassman said. "As you become older you will be part of the fundamental mission of Aberdeen Proving Ground and Harford County, and that is providing service and protection to our fighting men and women of this country."
Harford County Sherriff Jesse Bane encouraged the Scouts to continue being leaders in their communities.
"You are the future of this country and our future leaders," Bane said. "If you look at the leaders of today, the people who hold positions of authority, you will find that a great majority of them were Boy Scouts; I was a Boy Scout."
Bane added that the future of the country depends on students taking an interest in STEM subjects.
"Young people (that live) in the rest of the world are starting to excel greater than we do in the areas of science, math, technology and engineering," Bane said. "I am very encouraged to see our Scouts, our future leaders, taking advantage of this event. We are looking to the Boy Scouts of America to make this country strong and continue to make this the greatest country in the world."
The Scouts then split into training stations led by STEM professionals. During this event, 16 of 38 STEM-oriented merit badges were offered. These included: Architecture, Automotive Maintenance, Aviation, Chemistry, Composite Materials, Computers, Electronics, Engineering, Insect Studies, Metalwork, Nuclear Science, Radio, Robotics, Space Exploration, Veterinary Medicine, and Weather.
APG Instillation and CECOM Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell visited many of the training stations during the event.
During the lunch break, organizations displayed technologies and innovations currently in use by government civilians and Soldiers to show how STEM education applies to career fields at APG.
"This has been a great day, very educational and interactive," said Assistant Scout Master Joe Miller from Carroll County, as he watched his son Zach Miller,11, test the pH levels in different water samples at a U.S. Army Public Health Command exhibit.
Another popular activity was the Research, Development and Engineering Command's eCYBERMISSION exhibit. Scouts were challenged to use robots to place balls in a dish. When they completed the challenge, they won a water bottle as a prize.
"Using the robot was really exciting, my favorite part of the day," said Joshua Williams, 10.
Parent volunteer Ricky Williams said the hands-on activities helped the Scouts understand STEM subjects a little more.
"It is good to expose them to STEM activities at a young age," he said. "Hopefully this event will help them develop their skills, and create an interest in math and science."