Be prepared for STEM education

March 16, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

The Boy Scouts Simon Kenton Council hosted a special STEM University at Portsmouth High School on Saturday, with workshops giving scouts an opportunity to earn their merit badges in science.

The Simon Kenton Council includes 18 counties in Ohio and northern Kentucky, and includes the Tecumseh District of Scioto, Adams, and Lawrence counties in Ohio, and Greenup County in Kentucky. Scouts from all 18 counties were invited to attend the free STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) University at Portsmouth High School on Saturday.

“The national office has put forth a STEM initiative. There’s a problem with our education system and we’re falling behind in STEM education, so they’re doing their part to promote it. Boy Scouts have always had science components in all of their programming, from camping to the pinewood derby race, and everything that we do. But we’ve never really highlighted it. So now there’s an effort to really re-brand it and focus some attention,” said Sean Gallagher, from the Simon Kenton Council office in Columbus.

Examples he said, might include the environmental impact of camping or the physics behind pinewood derby racing.

Nearly 65 scouts were registered to attend, and each one chose one workshop — Robotics with Paul Yost of Yost Engineering, Personal Management with Mike Gampp from American Savings Bank, Welding with Ken Bailey from the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Engineering with Adam Carroll from the Scioto County Engineering Office, or Architecture with Kirk Donges of Tanner Stone Donges and Holsinger Architects. By completing their chosen workshop, scouts were able to earn a merit badge in that field. Gallagher said there are 127 total merit badges available, and about 30 are STEM-based.

Gallagher said the classes were extremely hands-on to give scouts a first-hand working knowledge and understanding of their chosen field.

“The whole basis of the merit badge program is it’s not a lecture. It’s as interactive as possible. There’s different levels of interactive for each course; personal management is just talking about financial literacy and looking at stock markets and learning about investments.,” Gallagher said.

Meanwhile, in the Robotics Workshop, 14 students are working in teams to build working robots.

“Two kids work on a kit. They’ll build a robot, plug it into the computer, program the robot, and learn about what goes into programming this robot to skate around the classroom,” Gallagher said.

Vicky Hatcher, communications chairperson with Boy Scouts Tecumseh District, said because of its location most of the participating scouts were from her district. She said it’s nice to sometimes offer programs like the STEM University in southern Ohio to make them more accessible to scouts in this part of the state. It was so popular, she said, there was even a waiting list for scouts to attend.

For more information about the Boy Scouts Tecumseh District and the Simon Kenton Council, visit the Council online at www.skcbsa.org.

Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com.