Robotics Merit Badge : How do you teach it

I was wondering if there are any teams out there that help a group of scouts earn the Robotics Merit Badge? If there are teams that help out their local scout group, how do you do it

This is a picture of me teaching a group of scouts (behind camera) the Robotics Merit Badge at the tech lodge of our summer camp. In this shot I was explaining the elevator on our bot and why it was used this season, in the context that it was an objective the bot had to complete.

Here is the link to the robotics i teach under using Lego mindstorms I’ve taught the robotics merit badge probably 30 times as part of my job under this syllabus with great success

There are several STEM merit badges in scouting. Programming and Digital Technology can link easily with the Robotics Merit Badge.

The badges I teach at my camps tech lodge are Programming, Digital Technology, and Robotics. They are all separate periods but I do have scouts that take them all the same week. And I have used the Robot in the photo I posted in all badges, but not the mindstorms.

requirements 4 and 5 for the robotics merit badge say you have to build a robot there is no way around that

Vex EDR, quite some time ago, had these kits available…

With the transition to the new V5 control systems it might be worth sending them an email and see if they would be willing to make a few kits.
There is an upgrade program for teams to go to the new hardware so Vex could have a bit of new old stock.

Perhaps that can lead to additional discounts…

Worth the try.


Scout of six years here, working on tidying up my eagle.

Here is the list of requirements, for reference.

Since minors can’t become merit badge counselors (or at least as far as I know), the best course of action is to connect with a local robotics merit badge counselor. This could be someone from the local council, or by getting one of your mentors registered as a counselor.

A good portion of the merit badge can be taught in a single class. The requirement section that cannot is all about designing and building a robot. Personally, the way that I would do it is by teaching a weekend day afternoon class that goes over the full merit badge (with workbook) and talks through requirements 1, 2, 3, and 7. Requirement 6 can also be done, but I would recommend choosing the option where they come to an event. The requirements that will take more time are 4 and 5, which involve building a full robot and demonstrating it.

TL;DR - Reach out to a robotics merit badge counselor. Work with them to plan a class that goes over requirements 1-3 and 7 and plans for 6. Give them ideas/resources to get started on requirements 4 and 5. Plan a followup class 2-4 weeks in the future for them to present their robots and what they’ve learned in the other reqs.

Take a look at the credits at the back of the Robotics and Programming Merit Badge books. A lot of those folks are/were FIRST mentors … Recognize any?

great suggestions everyone, just want to clear somethings up.

the way my camp works is that youth can be merit badge counselors, but they can’t sign the blue card. The area director signs that. I just teach the class.

I use the lego mindstorms platform to have the scouts build their bots. this last year all the computers in the tech lodge had to run on linux because they could not handle windows (a lot of the RAM died over the off season, not stored properly). because of this they could only do limited things, so the “task” I had them do was “push a 2 inch hollow plastic ball an obvious distance.” also because we could not use computers to program, I read the requirement about needing 2 sensors as they had to be on the bot, but they did not need to do anything.

this next year we already have confirmations about getting recycled computers that are only two years old, so i know I can run windows and have them program on the computers. This will allow for me to teach the kids to do a little more complicated machines.

I am writing a proposal to the council to get a few VEX EDR kits for the specialty week at my camp. this week would be for if a kid wanted to do activities only at the tech lodge. mind you, this does not mean badges. Completing badges is only a fun side product, but this would allow me to combine all the requirements together into a “badge pack” if you will. This extra time would allow me to have them build a robot with the VEX EDR system, learn to program, and maybe play a VRC game at the end of the week.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.

Although a minor can’t teach a merit badge class a minor can teach the meriting badge class under the supervision of a merit badge instructor which can conveniently be a robotics coach however this may not be a concern for him as he said he was working at a scout camp

One of the pioneers of the Robotics badge already commented in this thread too, if I’m not mistaken on my boy scout and robotics history :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve been a merit badge counselor for several years, and I now work for the BSA as a District Executive.

By far the easiest way to teach Robotics Merit Badge is with LEGO EV3/Mindstorms. MARS has a couple kits that I usually borrow. Depending on the setting, I typically ask them to create a robot that will complete a very simple task. I.e. “move this water bottle from one end of the table to the other.”

I work with them through the process of building a stable base, but you can also have them make one of the pre-designed kit bases, again depending on the setting and the time.

Then, we go through the problem-solving process. With the water bottle example, they always try to design a complicated arm to pick up the bottle before moving it. This allows us to go into more in-depth problem-solving skills, asking questions like “did it say we need to pick it up off the table?” and “what is the simplest way we can solve this problem?”

As far as the team helping, I haven’t gotten them involved as much as I would like, because it is typically easier to teach when there is only one or two counselors, and I’m usually either teaching in the middle of build season or in the summertime when our outreach calendars are already full. I’m not typically in a setting in which the team can bring a robot to demonstrate, but for Requirement 6 (competitions), I have them watch match video, game animations, etc. and walk through how our team and other teams solved the game challenges.

Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss more. As a District Executive and a FIRST mentor/volunteer, I’m always looking for creative ways to get FIRST involved in the Scouting program.

I use the VEXIQ robot kit, it takes very little time to blast through making a robot that is controllable. I use this kit P/N: 228-3060 $279.99

We build bases first as a group, it’s direct drive on the rear wheels. I let them decide on the wheelbase, and the width of the bot. I let them build whatever they want to manipulate objects.

It comes with two bumper switches, so it can be programmed to stop when it hits a wall. The Modkit programming runs on lots of stuff, I use it on a pair of iPads.

I have some extra sensors, and I use that when I do examples for the programming merit badge.

Depending on the size of the group, we build the robot and then play a little game that only requires pushing, but there is bonus for creating something that grips. The VEXIQ field is easy to assemble, most time I just use a 3x6’ version to sit on a table top.

Good luck!