Programming merit badge requirements released

programmingMuch of Baden-Powell’s vision for Scouting still holds true today. But put this one in the category of something B-P never could have predicted.

Today the Boy Scouts of America releases Programming merit badge, an elective badge that challenges Scouts to, among other requirements, “write, debug, and demonstrate a functioning program.” Programming MB continues in the BSA’s long tradition of preparing young men for modern-day careers, so I’m a big fan already.

The merit badge’s requirements are available below. Scouts may begin working on Programming MB once pamphlets arrive in Scout Shops and at in early August.

So if your Scouts are fluent in JavaScript, PHP, C++, or one of the dozens of other programming languages out there, be sure to share this printable flier (PDF) with the merit badge requirements.

Take a look at the official requirements: 

Programming merit badge requirements

1. Safety. Do the following:

a. Show your counselor your current, up-to-date Cyber Chip.

b. Discuss first aid and prevention for the types of injuries or illnesses that could occur during programming activities, including repetitive stress injuries and eyestrain.

 2. History. Do the following:

a. Give a brief history of programming, including at least three milestones related to the advancement or development of programming.

b. Describe the evolution of programming methods and how they have improved over time.

3. General knowledge. Do the following:

a. Create a list of 10 popular programming languages in use today and describe which industry or industries they are primarily used in and why.

b. Describe three different programmed devices you rely on every day.

4. Intellectual property. Do the following:

a. Explain how software patents and copyrights protect a programmer.

b. Describe the difference between licensing and owning software.

c. Describe the differences between freeware, open source, and commercial software, and why it is important to respect the terms of use of each.

5. Projects. Do the following:

a. With your counselor’s approval, choose a sample program. Then, as a minimum, modify the code or add a function or subprogram to it. Debug and demonstrate the modified program to your counselor.

b. With your counselor’s approval, choose a second programming language and development environment, different from those used for requirement 5a and in a different industry from 5a. Then write, debug, and demonstrate a functioning program to your counselor, using that language and environment.

c. With your counselor’s approval, choose a third programming language and development environment, different from those used for requirements 5a and 5b and in a different industry from 5a or 5b. Then write, debug, and demonstrate a functioning program to your counselor, using that language and environment.

d. Explain how the programs you wrote for requirements 5a, 5b, and 5c process inputs, how they make decisions based on those inputs, and how they provide outputs based on the decision making.

6. Careers. Find out about three career opportunities in programming. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required. Discuss this with your counselor and explain why this career might be of interest to you.