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The importance of coding skills can not be overestimated in a world where AI, robotics, and big data dominate conversations about the future of work and whether traditional career paths are likely to become obsolete as technology advances accelerate. BSA has some relevant merit badges in these subjects (obviously "Programming", but also "Digital Technology" and "Robotics"), and has some new Nova awards (like "Hello World", "Cub Scouts Can Code", and "Execute") that can be earned by scouts at all levels. For these awards, scouts need to learn the basics of machine logic and how to implement algorithms in 1 or more programming languages. Schools don't usually teach programming skills in adequate depth for today's world, and BSA might be well positioned to fill the gap for those scouts who are curious about a career path that is likely to remain viable in decades to come. Scouters who might not have parents with appropriate skills in coding can sometimes leverage events held at local colleges or companies. I read an interesting article about how Capitol Area Council was leveraging a local event from the "Hour of Code" initiative to encourage their scouts to learn a bit about coding. These events are held throughout the country, so Scoutmasters, Merit Badge Counselors and Nova Counselors could do similar initiatives in a lot of areas. Here's the story: https://www.kvue.com/article/tech/scouts-hour-of-code/269-388972df-0ae2-4321-a669-79228a424b0d
Pack 77 Den Leader and Southern Illinois University (SIU) associate math professor Wesley Calvert has created a new Nova award based on the mathematics of symmetry, Fearful Symmetry . A few years ago, SIU began playing host to an annual STEM University event, which gave scouts the chance to earn Nova and other merit awards. During the 2016 event, Calvert met Lisa Balbes, who serves on a national committee charged with reviewing proposals for such awards. “We talked about the need for additional math awards within the program, and after continued conversations with her and another member of this committee, that summer I started to develop the Fearful Symmetry.” ... The activities require scouts to watch, read and discuss ideas related to symmetry in everyday life, as well as its history and uses. It also guides them through various hands-on activities such as folding and rolling paper to make a lantern, drawing traditional Indian kolam art patterns using chalk on a sidewalk, or making Native American rugs and patchworks using paper. Kolam is a form of drawing using rice flour, chalk or rock powder of various colors. It is popular in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and some parts of Goa, Maharashtra, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and a few other Asian countries. “The kolam activity was one of the first ones I knew I wanted to include,” Calvert said. “I learned about this art form during my time as a Fulbright-Nehru scholar in India, and that was also how I met Sunita Vatuk, of the City College of New York, who has used this art form to teach mathematical ideas both to children and to school teachers. ... more at link. Very cool. http://news.siu.edu/2018/04/041018-siu-faculty-member-creates-new-award-for-boy-scouts.php