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What Does Scouting Have in Common with the Moon? Robotics!

What Is Patrol Z?Since the introduction of the new Robotics merit badge, Scouts from across the country have built some pretty cool robots. Some have created unique tasks for their robots to perform while others, like Nathan, are completing events in pre-existing robotics competitions.

Nathan, a Second Class Scout from Florida, is currently competing with his robotics team in the MoonBots 2.0 Challenge from the Google Lunar X Prize.

Moonbot Challenges
Robots have to complete several tasks on a simulated moon surface for the MoonBots Challenge. (Photo by Chris Radcliff/Flickr Creative Commons)

MoonBots 2.0 is a two-phased competition. In phase 1, teams submit a video and a written proposal of why their robot should be funded to go to the moon. In phase 2, teams submit a computer-aided design (CAD) proposal, complete a STEM outreach project and complete a live lunar mission on a game board field.

These steps also create opportunities to knock off some requirements for quite a few merit badges, such as Space Exploration, Computers and Robotics.

Nathan plans to use the MoonBots Challenge to work on the new Robotics merit badge.

“I plan on finishing as many requirements as I can to integrate MoonBots with the Robotics merit badge,” Nathan said. “For instance, one of the requirements is to keep a robot notebook, so, if say you have a team robot notebook as a possibility I would vote for that getting put into the process.”

Robotics Merit Badge
Did you know 100 Robotics merit badges flew in space in a Space Shuttle? (Summit Blog Photo)

This isn’t Nathan’s first experience in robotics, either. He’s created some pretty cool devices with his LEGO Mindstorm robot, such as a pingpong ball launcher and a cat repeller as a science fair project.

Despite knowing so much to begin with, Nathan has learned even more through his involvement with the MoonBots Challenge.

“I’ve learned so much more about programming, how to get the motors to do exactly what you want them to and working with limited resources,” Nathan said.

The challenge gave teams the option to register with several organizations, including FIRST Robotics, 4-H, and even the Boy Scouts of America!

[pullquote]“Scouting teaches you to be creative with your ideas.” — Nathan, Second Class Scout and robotics enthusiast[/pullquote]

In fact, the Lunar Scouts from Chesapeake, VA, did just that. All five of their members are also Boy Scouts.

And, according to Nathan, these connections are a great opportunity because Scouting influences many creative endeavors.

“Scouting teaches you to be creative with your ideas,” Nathan said.

And the facts back Nathan up. Did you know that 207 of the 312 pilots and scientists selected as astronauts since 1959 have been Scouts or active in Scouting?

“By participating in innovations such as robotics, [the Boy Scouts] empower the next generation to power us forward,” Nathan said.

Speaking of moving forward, did you know that you could get a Robotics merit badge patch that flew in space?

If you’re ready to take on the Robotics merit badge, now is a great opportunity.

Already have the badge? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments!

Carl C. is a Patrol Z reporter based in North Carolina. Carl is a Life Scout and an award-winning video documentary maker. Got a story idea for Carl? Leave it in a comment below!

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