NASA, VASC to Help Local Boy Scouts Earn New Robotics Merit Badges

Press Release From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011

image HAMPTON, VA. - NASA's Langley Research Center and the Virginia Air & Space Center have invited hundreds of boy scouts to earn their first ever robotics badge as part of a partnership between NASA and the Boy Scouts of America.

More than 200 scouts and 50 leaders are expected at the Virginia Air & Space Center for the kick-off of a series of Robotics merit badge events, Sat., Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will allow local Boy Scouts to participate in special activities that will help them achieve portions of the new Robotics merit badge. Scouts will have the chance to talk to engineers from NASA Langley and view demonstrations by NASA, the Virginia Air & Space Center, robotics teams and more.

Space-based robotic activities include a glimpse at how NASA astronauts may some day use a Lunar Surface Robotic Manipulator System to lift and precisely position equipment on the surface of another planet; how current astronauts on the International Space Station are being helped by Robonaut 2, the first robotic astronaut assistant; and more about the Mars Science Laboratory rover - a Mini Cooper sized autonomous robot set to launch later this year for the Red Planet.

Earth-based robotics demonstrations planned for the group include a look at bomb defusing robots used by Langley Air Force Base and the Virginia State Police, a robot made from creative materials by a NASA Langley safety officer, and a robot from the First Lego League sponsored by NASA and the Modeling Simulation team at Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding.

NASA and the BSA developed the badge because of the wide-reaching impact of robotics and its role in science, technology, engineering and math or STEM careers. The badge is now part of the BSA's new curriculum emphasizing STEM activities and will help young men develop critical skills relevant and needed in today's competitive world. The new merit badge is one of 31 STEM-related merit badges. Scouts will have access to engineering software and work with professional mentors worldwide to earn the badge.

To earn the Robotics merit badge, a scout is required to understand how robots move, sense the environment and understand what to do. Scouts will spend approximately 14 hours meeting the badge requirements, during which they will design and demonstrate a robot. The BSA anticipates more than 10,000 Robotics merit badges will be earned the first year. The first 500 scouts to complete the robotic requirements may be awarded a merit badge that flew on the space shuttle Endeavour during the STS-134 mission earlier this year.

For more information about the Robotics merit badge please go to:

For more information about NASA Langley programs and projects, visit:

For more information about the Virginia Air & Space Center, please go to:

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