programmingAs an (older) Eagle Scout who has been removed from scouting for a few years, I was excited to see a bunch of new tech related merit badges being offered started in 2014.  In my career as a Scout by earning merit badges such as Radio, Electricity, and Electronics, I found a passion that would become my career and feed my hobbies.  This got me thinking, how can we use the Boy Scout merit badge program as a model for teaching STEAM topics to kids and adults, not just Scouts?  Well, first let’s look at the various STEAM theme offered, new for 2014 are in bold (a list of my humble opinion, can be taught in many of makerspaces, admittedly many more badges are STEAM related, but may be hard to teach in a makerspace setting):


  • Chemistry
  • Composite Materials
  • Electricity
  • Energy
  • Fingerprinting
  • Nuclear Science
  • Space Exploration


  • Digital Technology (formerly Computers)
  • Electronics
  • Game Design
  • Geocaching
  • Metalwork
  • Programming
  • Radio
  • Woodwork
  • Signs, Signals, and Codes
  • Advanced Computing


  • Drafting
  • Engineering
  • Home Repairs
  • Inventing
  • Plumbing
  • Robotics
  • Surveying
  • Sustainability
  • Welding
  • Computer Aided Design


  • Basketry
  • Cinematography
  • Graphic Arts
  • Leatherwork
  • Model Design and Building
  • Movie Making
  • Music
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Pottery
  • Sculpture
  • Animation
  • Multimedia


  • Personal Management
  • Entrepreneurship

That is quite the list!  And though a bit light on Mathematics, you could argue that many of the badges require mathematic knowledge (e.g. algebra is needed to solve Ohm’s Law problems in Electricity merit badge).  Also, some the Art badges might be better offered by a local groups dedicated to the arts.  But you get the idea.  The requirements structure for each badge provides a great starting point for a curriculum to help structure a course for each topic.  And with the advent of geek skill badges, maybe you can actually award a badge at the end of each class you or your local makerspace offers.