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Peartree

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My boys recently visited another local troop for two weeks where a chemistry teacher taught all the requirements for the Chemistry merit badge. I would like to do the same for our troop (and later others) for the Space Exploration merit badge.

I'm sure some of you have already done this.

Do any of you have a curriculum or a lesson plan of any kind that I could look at/use or do I need to develop this from scratch? I already have a lot of the Estes Educator charts and overheads (and this might eventually motivate me to buy the Fliskits cutaway rocket motor). What other stuff do I need/want? How many sessions do you typically use? Our Scoutmaster is onboard but I need to do some planning and buy some kits soon. If I get moving the Boy Scouts can launch at the annual Cub Scout Hayride and rocket launch. in Oct/Nov.

Thanks!
 

Micromeister

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My boys recently visited another local troop for two weeks where a chemistry teacher taught all the requirements for the Chemistry merit badge. I would like to do the same for our troop (and later others) for the Space Exploration merit badge.

I'm sure some of you have already done this.

Do any of you have a curriculum or a lesson plan of any kind that I could look at/use or do I need to develop this from scratch? I already have a lot of the Estes Educator charts and overheads (and this might eventually motivate me to buy the Fliskits cutaway rocket motor). What other stuff do I need/want? How many sessions do you typically use? Our Scoutmaster is onboard but I need to do some planning and buy some kits soon. If I get moving the Boy Scouts can launch at the annual Cub Scout Hayride and rocket launch. in Oct/Nov.

Thanks!
John:
Everything that the scouts need to earn the merit badge is in the pamphlet. but it's every Scouts job to pick the brain of their counselor of all that he knows about the subject. To that end your Curriculum should closely follow the requirements for the badge while offering as much background on the related material as your particular troops time frame allows.
I generally use a 3 meeting approach. first being the introductory phase, quick review of the required material, What is expected of EACH individual Scout, and where to get the needed materials.
John Keep in mind the Model rocketry is only one area of this badge so you'll need to become famililar with the pamphlet, do any side reading to bone up on some of the optional projects and give yourself some breathing room. Also keep in mind Merit Badges are Individual awards and MUST be earned completely by each boy. A badge given without doing all the work isn't worth the fabric its sawn of.
Second meeting is usually broken into groups working in round robin, to get each Scout his time with the counselor to go over the work he has done druing the preceeding week(s) depending on the troops schedule. If possible I like to have the troop attend a launch between the 2nd and 3rd meetings to fly and recover their models.
Third meeting usually finishes up any loose ends and many times I like to have the scouts present their projects to the troop depending on the size of the group.

Hope this helps
 

Peartree

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John:
Everything that the scouts need to earn the merit badge is in the pamphlet. but it's every Scouts job to pick the brain of their counselor of all that he knows about the subject. To that end your Curriculum should closely follow the requirements for the badge while offering as much background on the related material as your particular troops time frame allows.
I generally use a 3 meeting approach. first being the introductory phase, quick review of the required material, What is expected of EACH individual Scout, and where to get the needed materials.
John Keep in mind the Model rocketry is only one area of this badge so you'll need to become famililar with the pamphlet, do any side reading to bone up on some of the optional projects and give yourself some breathing room. Also keep in mind Merit Badges are Individual awards and MUST be earned completely by each boy. A badge given without doing all the work isn't worth the fabric its sawn of.
Second meeting is usually broken into groups working in round robin, to get each Scout his time with the counselor to go over the work he has done druing the preceeding week(s) depending on the troops schedule. If possible I like to have the troop attend a launch between the 2nd and 3rd meetings to fly and recover their models.
Third meeting usually finishes up any loose ends and many times I like to have the scouts present their projects to the troop depending on the size of the group.

Hope this helps
Thanks Micro. I was uncomfortable with the way that the Chemistry teacher did the merit badge but the boys DID seem to learn something. Your method seems to find some "middle ground" that I was looking for.

I'd still love to hear from others who have taught this.
 

Micromeister

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Thanks Micro. I was uncomfortable with the way that the Chemistry teacher did the merit badge but the boys DID seem to learn something. Your method seems to find some "middle ground" that I was looking for.

I'd still love to hear from others who have taught this.
One of the points I may not have really gotten across well is that ALL the "required" information can be gleened directly from the current Merit Badge Pamphlet. Each Scout working on the badge should have there own. Your Council HQ's Scout shop usually has a decent supple but It's also a good idea to place an order by phone if you have an entire troop working on the same badge.

Requirements 5,6,7 & 8 really do take some time, depending on the size of the troop often it's not possible to see every Scouts work and talk with them at a single meeting. Make sure to set aside a couple spare Saturdays and and evening or two if your working with a troop with more then two patrols;)
#7 is one of the most fun for me as a counselor, some of the base designs the Scouts come up with are fantastic, Detailed and really out of this world LOL!!!
 

sam_midkiff

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When I did this I did build sessions with the scouts since so few have modeling experience, and organized launches. I gave them worksheets to fill out for the other requirements, and will go over them with the boys to discuss any deficiencies they might have, and to force them to do some intelligent interaction with an adult.

Our troop has about 50 scouts in it, and I had about 20 scouts sign up for the merit badge. For build sessions I had three different groups, and found the ones with 5 or 6 boys went smoother.

We built alpha's (the ones with real fins) in about an hour (using trim and molding glue where appropriate -- great stuff for this kind of thing), with fillets and parachute installation being done after the build session for some of the boys. I had extra rockets, which was good because we had a couple that the motor mount tube didn't make it all the way in. I supplied snap swivels and a length of crepe paper with each kit. I got the kits from Tower (had a $20 off coupon) and acsupplyco.

I did three launch sessions, and supplied two or three motors. I wanted to do this at a Tripoli Indiana launch, but travel would have forced me to postpone the launch for over a month from the time the rockets were built, which is too long.

I would have liked to have had the other requirements be more interactive, but having 20 boys do this made that difficult. Going over their worksheets with them is definitely a compromise over one-on-one sessions for most of the requirements, but it's better than not having the time to do it all.

Finally, take the online "Your Protection" training if you haven't -- the information is actually quite good.

Sam
 

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If you want to do some sort of "build" segment with the class but cannot (like it's winter, cold, wet, and windy) do a decent job of building & flying model rockets, you still have another choice.

There are enough free cardstock models posted out there on the internet to be able to find something suitable (not too complicated, not too big) in the way of a famous launch vehicle, capsule, satellite, or probe. You can pre-print them and have big mailer envelopes all stuffed, prepped, and ready to pass out to the scouts. They are cheap, simple, and fairly fast...if you pick the right ones.

I have seen materials like this used along with an assignment to research whatever model they select, and do a 5 minute-ish oral presentation to the other scouts. At one school I have seen the better-assembled models showcased in a hallway display for a while.

You did stock up on cheap back-to-school glue, didn't you?
 

Peartree

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Thanks everyone.

I probably wasn't as clear as I could have been either. I do have copies of the merit badge books and I *am* an Assistant Scoutmaster and have been to the official scout training, etc., etc, blah, blah, blah. I'm still sort of new-ish having moved up with my Webelos last year but I'm mostly good. What I haven't done is do this merit badge for a group before (even though I've done many large build sessions with the Cub Scouts) and I wanted to see how some of you have handled doing so.

Thanks for all the input. It's all great.
 

maricopasem

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I've done this one many times, although not in the past year or two. I made a packet for them to fill out and then posted nearly all of the information on papers around the room. The Scouts wandered around the room reading, writing, and drawing. As they completed the packet they were able to choose which rocket they wanted to build (I do scratch ones for this). It has worked well each time.
 

NjCo

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I made a packet for them to fill out and then posted nearly all of the information on papers around the room.
Perhaps things are a little different now than when I was in scouts way back when but this seems to me to be a little heavy on the spoon feeding and a little light on the personal initiative and motivation to get the badges a scout might want. Looking at the badge requirements for Space Exploration it seems pretty clear that this is supposed to be more individual effort than just wandering around a room for an evening or two and copying down what your scout leaders have written. Granted it's been a while since I've had any contact with scouting so things might be different now.

It has worked well each time.
I guess it depends on what the outcomes are supposed to be. If you mean that all of the scouts received their Space Exploration badges, well, then yeah, seems guaranteed to work. If you mean that the kids actually learned about something that was of interest to them then that's probably a little more hit or miss.
 

Micromeister

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Perhaps things are a little different now than when I was in scouts way back when but this seems to me to be a little heavy on the spoon feeding and a little light on the personal initiative and motivation to get the badges a scout might want. Looking at the badge requirements for Space Exploration it seems pretty clear that this is supposed to be more individual effort than just wandering around a room for an evening or two and copying down what your scout leaders have written. Granted it's been a while since I've had any contact with scouting so things might be different now.



I guess it depends on what the outcomes are supposed to be. If you mean that all of the scouts received their Space Exploration badges, well, then yeah, seems guaranteed to work. If you mean that the kids actually learned about something that was of interest to them then that's probably a little more hit or miss.


Your exactly right NjCO;
One of the biggest arguments I have with Scouters and Parents these days is about giving unearned or half-earned awards, just to improve a troops advancement numbers. The Scouts suffer by not being challanged to think the subjects through and do their own work, along with not really learning much in the process. Meanwhile the program "Scouting" is forever harmed by these well intentioned do-gooders.

It is So supremely important the Each and Every Scout working on any Merit Badge complete every single requirement as designed, refusing to shortcut anything at all I just don't know how else to state it. If We are to prepare these young men to be the future leaders of our world, half measure and shortcuts may make it easier to give away cloth badges but it doesn't prepare the individuals for their work ahead. It is the counselors JOB to make sure each and every Scout working on a badge has done all the work (as spelled out in the pamphlet). Requiring nothing more but settling for nothing less.
As I mentioned in my first post, ALL the "required" information can be gleened from and obtained through a copy of the Pamplet for the badge involved. And that's all a Scout HAS to do to earn the badge.....BUT! its the Obligation of every Scout working on the badge to gain as much information as he can from the Counselor and other outside sources as he possible can to complete the leaning of the skill or activity. I think this has somehow been missed or downplayed in Scouter Training these days. I'm still of the OLD School mindset; "Never do for a Scout, what the Scout can do (for find) for himself".
I try to remind my fellow Scouters and other concerned Adults. "Scouting is not just a thing to do, it's a way of life".
I'll get of my soapbox...Scouting is one of my most treasured experiences. It just breaks my heart to see it's essence degraded by trying to do everything as a Group activity.... with a few special exceptions, Most Merit Badges are and were not designed to be done in groups.
 

maricopasem

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This is what makes this forum so great - someone shares a sliver of information so that the individual asking can get the details if desired, and instead the responder is impugned with great sanctimony by those who know nothing of the details. No worries. I'll just take my Eagle Scout badge, my 12 years of leading local Scout units (Boy, Varsity, and Venturing), and my current leadership position in my local Council and step back into the shadows of the "experts."

Good luck with the badge, Peartree; it's a fun one.
 

Micromeister

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This is what makes this forum so great - someone shares a sliver of information so that the individual asking can get the details if desired, and instead the responder is impugned with great sanctimony by those who know nothing of the details. No worries. I'll just take my Eagle Scout badge, my 12 years of leading local Scout units (Boy, Varsity, and Venturing), and my current leadership position in my local Council and step back into the shadows of the "experts."

Good luck with the badge, Peartree; it's a fun one.
maricopasem:
Sorry if you've taken our postings as impuning. My comments were not directed at anyone specific, rather some close observations taken over several decades in Scouting.

Just so you understand where i'm coming from: My last Active year pin was 35 years. I'll take my Arrow of light, and Eagle badge with silver palm, along with all the boyhood leadership rolls as APL, SPL and JASM & ASM in the troop I grew up with, then another 2.5 decades as SM of my own troop while earning the Scouters Tranining award, Scoutmaster Key, and Woodbadge beads. Along the way spend 10+years as the Districts BSA Roundtable commissioner, earning the District Commissioners Arrowhead award, while holding down a couple training committee Council-wide posts. Serving as the NCAC Councils JLT Training Committee Chair & staff, Train The Trainer Committee member and Staff, later Chairing the same committee, Woodbadge Training Staff, and helped rewrite part of the Scoutmasters Handbook JLT Training guide that is still in use today. Some of These things I think helped in the voting for Horizion Districts award of Merit...etc and still managed to keep the troop "Outing" enough to earn the Council awarded "Most Active Troop" 7 years straight. The last 8 or 9 years have been devoted to mainly MB Counselor on a number of subject.
I type all that not to break my own arm, but to give a little credence to the fact when speaking about training Scouts I do have a long and credible background. "Expert" not hardly; but very well trained over a very long time.
The observations made are something I've personally been fighting at all levels of Scouting for more then a decade. Were it not for a very nasty fall back in 2000, I'd still be deeply involved in the troop programs beyond merit badge counselor. Unfortunately mobility being what it is, I'm happy to serve were I can.

More directly to your charge though: It was within the last 10-12 years that National started easing requirments; Dropping some IMHO important aspects of the Trail to Eagle, and in the process giving rise to some of the "Ease Up on them..their only KIDS" mentality I see so often in my travels around other troops. they aren't just kids, they are Scouts....There is a difference.
While your Packets of info on Space exploration may well be very helpful, I use a similar method for Leatherwork MB and a few other badges. If your telling John that your completing the entire badge requirements, less the model building/flying in a single group meeting setting. Then Sir; I respectfully submit your NOT doing the Scouts or the Badge the justice they both deserve. It's my hope you'll take this not as impuning but rather as good councel toward making the experience more rewarding and meaningful for our Scouts.
 
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NjCo

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This is what makes this forum so great - someone shares a sliver of information so that the individual asking can get the details if desired, and instead the responder is impugned with great sanctimony by those who know nothing of the details.
Sorry for smacking the hornets nest so to speak. My intention was certainly not to be accusatory and you're right, I don't know the details but would love to hear them. But the impression I got from what you wrote was that the kids were getting by a little easy. Again, sorry if that was not the case.

My opinion on this type of thing is similar to Micromeister but I come at it from a completely different perspective. I hope you can see where the interest lies and the parallels between scouting and my experience. I've been in the field of biological sciences at the university level as well as the corporate level for quite a few years. I get to see the end result after the parents, schools systems, coaches, scout leaders and who knows how many other influences are kind of finishing up with the kids. I've taught them in classes at the Bachelors, Masters and PhD level. I've graded their exams, read their reports, mentored them in laboratories, written their letters of recommendation and looked over their job applications.

I've seen enough kids to break them into three general categories: those who don't try, those who aim to get good grades, and those who are out to learn something. It's this last group that are the special ones. The division between the last two groups is that those that are out to get good grades see the grades themselves as the endpoint. They've had it drilled into them their whole life that if they just get good grades life will be great. And our education system has rubber stamped them through our universities because they've done what was asked of them. But many times when you ask them to solve a problem or have an intelligent conversation with them they get that 'deer in the headlights' look. The favorite quote I get from them is 'Just tell me what I need to know to get a good grade on the exam'. They make good employees because they generally do what they are told and do it well. But they generally lack the skills and leadership to work unsupervised for extended periods of time.

That last group are the real winners though. They might not have the best grades but they generally do fairly well. They are highly motivated and curious enough to shoulder the learning process and accept it as their own. They view the education process not as a series of classes and grades but as an opportunity to learn new things. They are there just for the sake of learning and have an endless capacity and desire to fill their heads with just about anything you offer them. They are the leaders, thinkers and problem solvers of each generation.

So much of our educational and corporate structure seems to be in place for the sake of the system itself. Individuals are not pushed to excel because the systems in place are not set up to handle that level of commitment. And most kids see themselves as being completely normal like everyone else. Kids are like water - they tend to follow the path of least resistance. They don't feel the drive and motivation to learn unless they are challenged. The lucky few that find a teacher or mentor that sparks their interest in learning manage to make it through the system with their curiosity and motivation intact. So if you are a mentor of kids try to challenge them and push them to excel. Because most kids won't realize what they are capable of and that they might actually like to be challenged unless someone has pushed them at some point in their lives.
 

Peartree

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NjCo,

Well said.

When I was an undergrad, we had an alumnus come to speak at the student section of our Engineering professional society. He owned a company that built assembly line painting robots, the kind that paint Hondas, etc. Afterward, as we walked on a tour of the building he told our advisor that faculty should always be nice to the 'A' students and the 'C' students because the 'A' student will come back and teach.




The 'C' students will come back and donate buildings. :)

He had been a 'C' student.
 

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maricopasem:

While your Packets of info on Space exploration may well be very helpful, I use a similar method for Leatherwork MB and a few other badges.
If you're not having the scouts tan the hides themselves, they're not really learning much about leathercraft. *ducks*
 

Micromeister

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If you're not having the scouts tan the hides themselves, they're not really learning much about leathercraft. *ducks*
We certainly do on occasion, along with actually dressing the hide or skin before tanning. Chrome or veggie again depending on the game.
But ya see these additional skills are not required for the badge.
 
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