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Math and Science Bronze Award

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  • #16
    As one of those nerds (computer science professor -- hi nolesrule!), I was irresistibly drawn to this thread like those moths I see around the camp lanterns. I hope the analogy ends there!

    Good points, Shortridge and DWS! I'd also add to the "nerdy but hopefully welcome" merit badge list the new Robotics MB slated for 2010.

    Regarding the question of whether a recognition for some proficiency in science or math has a place in Scouting, both Boy Scouting and Venturing have their members make commitments to developing themselves mentally as well as ethically and physically. Boy Scout members say they will keep themselves mentally awake, and Venturers say they will seek truth in all things. I think most of us would agree that scientists and mathematicians should be mentally awake as they ply their trades! Why not encourage that trait in our mathematically- or scientifically-inclined youth with an award?

    Venturing and Boy Scouting both aim to develop some leadership skills in their youth members. I've seen leaders who don't understand the limits and capabilities of science often make poor policy decisions on behalf of their constituencies (this happens in both major political parties, so please no one turn this into a political discussion!). Not all Venturers or Scouts will pursue leadership positions in government or industry, but I'd hope that those who do would have the chance to see that science and math are respectable tools in their toolbox for getting their jobs done. Even if they aren't inclined to use those tools themselves, they should understand them enough to be able to ask "sanity-check" questions about how well their advisers are using those tools. Again, a science/math award could come in handy here for contributing to the development of the leaders of tomorrow.

    I'll wait until the requirements come out before judging the award's potential. If the requirements reward scouts merely for getting good grades in science courses, I'd be inclined to dismiss the award as poorly designed -- scouting is not reducible to a classroom experience! However, if they get scouts to see how science and math relate to scouting's methods, other aspects of their lives, etc., while developing their science and math skills, I'd be inclined to welcome it. Even better, if the requirements get scouts to appreciate the importance of combining ethics with scientific pursuits, I'd downright embrace it.

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    • #17
      No disrespect intended, nolesrule. I have great respect for computer techs. My brief exposure to computer programming was a semester of Fortran IV in 1974. Punch cards. Wait 3 days to pick up your printout from the computer processing center, only to find out the program crashed because i had a comma out of place on the 3rd card. I thought, "well this is BS." Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

      As I stated before, I am a product of the 1970-era Exploring (Fire/Rescue) program. During my tenure, the program went co-ed. I had the time of my life, and otherwise would have dropped out of scouting. My comment about being confused is only half tongue-in-cheek. Too many people don't understand either Exploring Or Venturing...there is no brand identity. If it were up to me, Venturing would be the "senior scout" program, (e.g. Rovers in the UK).

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      • #18
        Yeah, BadenP,

        Like shortridge, I want to hear this, especially since my youth member MB sash includes what was then Atomic Energy MB...

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        • #19
          You guys, I have nothing against science or computers but this Venturing award is nothing more than a ploy by National to bring teens who have had little to no interest in scouting into trying Venturing, which IMHO is an insult to the Venturing program. This has NOTHING to do with boy scout merit badges, even though I really wonder the relevance to scouting of several to many of them. I can just visualize the new Venturing crew now, hornrimmed glasses, pocket protectors, and computer notebooks ready to take on the perils of the outdoors, lol. What is National thinking?

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          • #20
            Then Again, a Crews whose main focus is Sports or Arts and Hobbies or Religious Life may have the same issues as the Science and Math Crew if they went camping.

            Venturing is not all about Treking across Denali in the dead of winter or running the Allagash in the Spring.

            There are those who think every Crew needs to have an "outdoors" component to the program and that is just not correct.

            Youth coming together to develop their own program and running that program with responsible adults, now that's Venturing

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            • #21
              "I'll wait until the requirements come out before judging the award's potential. If the requirements reward scouts merely for getting good grades in science courses, I'd be inclined to dismiss the award as poorly designed -- scouting is not reducible to a classroom experience! However, if they get scouts to see how science and math relate to scouting's methods, other aspects of their lives, etc., while developing their science and math skills, I'd be inclined to welcome it. Even better, if the requirements get scouts to appreciate the importance of combining ethics with scientific pursuits, I'd downright embrace it."

              Have to agree. If they can incorporate some of the need things I see in, say "Make Magazine", the First Robotic Competition, etc, it may be a good program.

              I have to agree with OGE's assesment. Venturing isn't exclusively outdoors. I never want the outdoors to go away, but I think Venturing allows for a framework to attract youth of different interesting into a program that can instill the values of scouting.

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              • #22
                emb021 & OGE

                Thats the real question isn't it, "What are the true values of scouting?" , IMHO Venturing should never totally exclude the outdoor experience, it doesn't have to be the focus BUT it should be part of the program. Excluding the outdoors entirely, again IMHO,weakens the crew and those are the type of crews that seem to fail in the first year. Venturing is part of scouting and we need to instill more than just leadership skills if Venturing is going to survive. My crew was recently on a weekend camping trip with five other crews, one reinactment crew, two church youth group crews, a sailing crew, and two outdoor crews. On that trip all the specialties were forgotten and the teens all worked together as one crew planning a hike, a raft trip, and a small mountain climb. That in my opinion is the true nature and potential of Venturing and represents the true values of scouting. Many of these teens had never camped before, but ALL of them had a wonderful time and are looking forward to the next trip together.

                Now say what you want about what the book says Venturing should be but leaving out the outdoors entirely I don't think was ever the intent of the ones who created the program originally. Having a focus is good but at the exclusion of everything else that is the backbone of scouting is just plain WRONG, IMHO.

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                • #23
                  Outdoors should always be part of Scouting (the old 'you can't take the 'outing' out of scouting'), and AFAIC, should be part of Venturing.

                  An outdoor crew certainly should be comfortable camping, a sailing crew, while they don't camp, per say, should be comfortable in the outdoors (where else do you sail?). A church crew should be trying to get out some time (camp retreat and the like). A re-enactment crew should also be comfortable camping (I was part of a seminole war/early florida history re-enactment crew. we most certainly camped out). I would hope that other types of crews would be exposed to the outdoors in some fashion.

                  This is one of my issues with some crews and how they focus EXCLUSIVELY on their speciality. That's really not the way it should be. Yes, you can have a speciality. And build a program around it. BUT you should include OTHER aspects of Venturing into your program: service, social, outdoors, etc. If you are an indian lore crew, doing the occasional social event like going bowling doesn't suddenly turn you into a bowling crew. But doing the occasional social event is something you should be doing.

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                  • #24
                    Some of you talk like you should never go indoors, or that a youth who works on a Math and Science Bronze Award will be in a Crew that refuses to do anything but sit at a desk and do math problems with a little glass beaker nearby. By extension I guess you believe that any scout who works on a merit badge for electricity must be in a Troop that never leaves the building because they have to sit in the corner watching the wall socket.

                    Come on guys, this isn't rocket science. If a Crew is doing its thing and these youth are involved and one of them chooses to work on a bronze award that involves using intellect, what harm is that? Maybe he wants to be marketable when he gets out of college or something.

                    But maybe you would prefer that the youth just get out of your program because you don't want nerds.

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                    • #25
                      bacchus

                      You missed the whole point here, no one is saying a math science award is a bad thing, but this is scouting not math or science camp. There are clubs at every school for both of these subjects where teens can study and socialize with others who want to totally focus on these areas. But this is scouting which does and should have a totally different focus and while aspects of science and math do play a part in many of its activities they are not the central focus of any of its programs. Scouting is a unique program with a unique focus, the outdoors and to think otherwise is just not true. If you want to be in scouting you need to embrace its founding ideology and purpose and not try to change it into something scouting was never meant to be.

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                      • #26
                        Mr. Powell,
                        I think we're arguing different things. One of the things I remember being drilled into me at WB21 was the need to be inclusive and use diversity to our advantage.

                        If my Crew of 8 (for example) decides to raft down the Snake River and make a week of it, and do the Kodiak training at the same time, why in the world would we want to shun one of the kids who excels at Math and Science, and reduce our number to 7? Would we also shun the kid who believes his spirituality is an important aspect in his life? Should we shun the kid who likes arts and hobbies? I just don't follow the reasoning why we would exclude somebody from a Crew just because they excel in 2 classes at school, or at least want to excel. If we shun everybody that leaves us with nobody.

                        Going back to the Scout example, if 8 members of a Troop went to Summer Camp and one of them was interested in earning the electricity merit badge, would you exclude him from the Troop?

                        I think you interpret the Math and Science Bronze a bit different. I think you believe that there is a Crew out there that will only allow what you term "nerds" as members, and that they can only work on Math and Science. I would find that hard to believe, and even if it was true, why would you or I care what keeps that Crew involved with the ideals of the BSA? Look at the methods of Venturing. They don't require these youth to go spend their weekends in tents. Venturing is a youth-driven program. Whatever floats their boat and etc.

                        But as far as both of us are concerned, M&S is like another type of merit badge, to make a comparison. Bronze is the rank advancement, and next is Gold, and finally Silver. If we are too worried about somebody getting pigeon-holed into Math and Science, we can rest assured that by the time they are Gold, and especially Silver, they will be a better-rounded individual.

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                        • #27
                          I am sorry Mr. Bacchus but your argument is illogical and does not compute. You still are not getting it, please reread my posts carefully, and what they talk about in WB21 is not germane to this discussion. Thank you.

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                          • #28
                            I find it deeply ironic that I was lectured on another thread for my failure to understand the Venturing program by a person who has here clearly demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of the Venturing program.

                            Venturing is NOT an outdoor-centric program. It is adaptable and flexible, based on the needs of the CO and the interests of the participants. A math and science award for Venturing is the equivalent of the science-oriented MBs I listed in my previous posts. It in no way distracts or detracts from the core values and purpose of the Venturing program.

                            A young man or woman who earns the math and science Bronze could then turn around and earn the Ranger award. There's nothing preventing a crew from having multiple specialties, or barring a Venturer from having more than one interest. Any cries of "disaster, disaster!" or "they're corrupting the Scouting program!" are simply wrong.

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                            • #29
                              shortridge it seems to me that you not only do not understand Venturing but your scouting knowledge is sorely lacking, lol.

                              Have a nice day.

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                              • #30
                                OK, then. Guess that settles it. I apologize to everyone here for my complete ignorance.

                                I'll just agree with the person in another thread who wrote: "Venturing is not an "in the box" type of program where every crew does exactly the same thing, there are a huge selection of options to choose from, and for many scouters thats makes them uncomfortable and leads them to think crews are not organized, which is just not true. Venturing is not a one program fits all type of unit, unlike cubs and boy scouts."

                                I hope you have a good day, too, sir.

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