Return to Nuclear Science Merit Badge Page



Please arrive with ample time prior to the start time of your class for registration.  Remember there will be others checking in as well and depending on the size of the class and the event the class is being held in conjunction with that registration may take a little time.

You should bring a blue card filled out properly for this class. (Scoutmaster Bucky Online participants - you should have forwarded your Blue card to Scoutmaster Bucky prior to the class via email or postal mail Scoutmaster Bucky - 5724 Aldrich Avenue South  Minneapolis, Minnesota  55419.) If you are not familiar with how to fill out a blue card, you should familiarize yourself with Scoutmaster Bucky's "How To Fill Out A Blue Card" document. Click here for Scoutmaster Bucky's "How To Fill Out A Blue Card".  Remember it is a Scout's responsibility to take care of their own blue card from beginning to end.

Your Scout Uniform is required to be worn for attending this Merit Badge session.   If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Brian Reiners; Scoutmaster Bucky via email or on the phone at 612-483-0665.

Reviewing the merit badge pamphlet PRIOR to attending and doing preparation work will insure that Scouts get the most out of these class opportunities. The merit badge pamphlet is a wealth of information that can make earning a merit badge a lot easier. It contains many of the answers and solutions needed or can at least provide directions as to where one can find the answers.  It is NOT acceptable to come unprepared to a Scoutmaster Bucky event.

You can (and should) use the Scoutmaster Bucky Nuclear Science Merit Badge Workbook to help get a head start and organize your preparation work. You can download the Scoutmaster Bucky Nuclear Science Merit Badge Workbook by clicking here.  If this link is not working please check the internet for other merit badge workbook options.

It should be noted that this merit badge class is not meant for those who just want to come and see what they can get done. It is possible to complete this merit badge by being properly prepared and having done the preparation work prior to the class. Preparation is a MUST.





Things to remember to bring for this Merit Badge Class:

1. Merit Badge Blue Card properly filled out and signed off by your Scoutmaster

2. Nuclear Science Merit Badge Pamphlet

3. Scout Uniform

4. Supporting documentation or project work pertinent to this merit badge which may also include a Merit Badge Workbook for reference with notes

5. A positive Scouting focus and attitude

Following is an outline of the class to help you prepare.  Note that Scouts will be signed off only on those requirements that the Merit Badge Counselor determines meets the requirements; no more no less  This Merit Badge should not be expected to be earned without preparation and work


1. Do the following:

a. Tell what radiation is.

b. Describe the hazards of radiation to humans, the environment, and wildlife. Explain the difference between radiation exposure and contamination.  In your explanation, discuss the nature and magnitude of radiation risks to humans from nuclear power, medical radiation, and background radiation including radon. Explain the ALARA principle and measures required by law to minimize these risks.

c. Describe the radiation hazard symbol and explain where it should be used. Tell why and how people must use radiation or radioactive materials carefully.

Scouts should have this written out to show the counselor that some thought and research has gone into this requirement and Scouts should be prepared to explain their findings.  Scouts will not automatically be signed off on this requirement just for attending as the requirement states that they must describe and explain a number of items.


2. Do the following:

a. Tell the meaning of the following: atom, nucleus, proton, neutron, electron, quark, isotope; alpha particle, beta particle, gamma ray, X-ray; ionization, radioactivity, and radioisotope.

Scouts should come to the class with notes and knowledge of these terms. The "tell" action will more than likely be a part of group discussion led by the counselor in which each Scout will be given an opportunity to share their research and understanding of these terms and this requirement.

b. Choose an element from the periodic table. Construct 3-D models for the atoms of three isotopes of this element, showing neutrons, protons, and electrons. Use the three models to explain the difference between atomic number and mass number and the difference between the quark structure of a neutron and a proton.

Scouts should have an understanding of this requirement and review the components of this requirement as explained in the Merit Badge Pamphlet book.  The counselor will help facilitate an activity in the class covering a portion of this requirement.  Completion of this requirements will be dependant upon the Scout's preparation reading, participation during the class, and successful completion of the project work of this requirement.


3. Do ONE of the following; then discuss modern practical physics with your counselor.

a. Visit an accelerator (research lab) or university where people study the properties of the nucleus or nucleons.

b. Name three particle accelerators and describe several experiments that each accelerator performs.

Component 3b of this requirement will be covered in class, however Scouts should have read the section in the merit badge pamphlet that references this subject and be prepared to give explanation from their readings and research in the class in order to complete this requirement.


4. Do TWO of the following; then discuss with your counselor the different kinds of radiation and how they can be used.

a. Build an electroscope. Show how it works. Place a radiation source inside and explain the effect it causes.

b. Make a cloud chamber. Show how it can be used to see the tracks caused by radiation. Explain what is happening.

c. Obtain a sample of irradiated and non-irradiated foods. Prepare the two foods and compare their taste and texture. Store the leftovers in separate containers and under the same conditions. For a period of 14 days, observe their rate of decomposition or spoilage, and describe the differences you see on days 5, 10, and 14.

d. Visit a place where radioisotopes are being used. Using a drawing, explain how and why they are used.

Scouts will spend the majority of class time working on this requirement facilitated by the Counselor. This class will focus on components 4a and 4b of this requirement.


5. Do ONE of the following; then discuss with your counselor the principles of radiation safety.

a. Using a radiation survey meter and a radioactive source, show how the counts per minute change as the source gets closer to or farther from the radiation detector. Place three different materials between the source and the detector, then explain any differences in the measurements per minute. Explain how time, distance, and shielding can reduce an individual's radiation dose.

b. Describe how radon is detected in homes. Discuss the steps taken for the long-term and short-term test methods, tell how to interpret the results, and explain when each type of test should be used. Explain the health concern related to radon gas and tell what steps can be taken to reduce radon in buildings.

c. Visit a place where X-rays are used. Draw a floor plan of this room. Show where the unit, the unit operator, and the patient would be when the X-ray unit is operated. Explain the precautions taken and the importance of those precautions.

Scouts will have an opportunity to complete this requirement, with preparation ahead of time, during the class. Requirement 5b will be discussed.  Scouts should prepare for discussion on this component of the requirement.  It is strongly recommended to utilize a Merit Badge Workbook to make notes of your findings in preparation for class discussion with the counselor.

Scouts choosing to do one of the other two components of this requirement should bring their work (saying you have done it is not enough) for review with the counselor during the class.


6. Do ONE of the following; then discuss with your counselor how nuclear energy is used to produce electricity.

a. Make a drawing showing how nuclear fission happens, labeling all details.  Draw another picture showing how a chain reaction could be started and how it could be stopped.  Explain what is meant by a "critical mass".

b. Build a model of a nuclear reactor.  Show the fuel, control rods, shielding, moderator, and cooling material.  Explain how a reactor could be used to change nuclear energy into electrical energy or make things radioactive.

c. Find out how many nuclear power plants exist in the United States. Locate the one nearest your home. Find out what percentage of electricity in the United States is generated by nuclear power plants, by coal, and by gas.

Scouts should review this requirement and select one of its components and be prepared to discuss. Scouts should bring any work they have prepared for this requirement to the class to share with the counselor and other Scouts during the class. Time will be allotted in during the class for discussion and potential completion of this requirement.


7. Give an example of each of the following in relation to how energy from an atom can be used: nuclear medicine, environmental applications, industrial applications, space exploration, and radiation therapy.  For each example, explain the application and its significance to nuclear science.

Scouts should review the merit badge pamphlet and find as much information pertaining to this requirement as possible.  It is recommended to utilize a Merit Badge Workbook to make notes on your findings. Scouts should be prepared to share their findings with the counselor and other Scouts in the class.


8. Find out about three career opportunities in nuclear science that interest you. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession and discuss this with your counselor. Tell why this profession interests you.

Scouts should review this requirement and its components and be prepared to discuss.  It is strongly recommended that Scouts bring any notes or supporting documents they may have to help show the counselor that they have prepared for discussion of these items.


this page last reviewed and updated - December 2015