A merit badge for making?

A merit badge for making?



Inventing involves finding technological solutions to real-world problems. Inventors understand the importance of inventing to society because they creatively think of ways to improve the lives of others. Explore the world of inventing through this new merit badge, and discover your inner inventiveness.

That’s the intro to the guidelines for new Invention merit badge offered by the Boy Scouts of America. At first blush it seems like a wonderful inclusion: America has spawned countless genius inventors. However, I suspect a lot of makers may find the requirements a little dated. For one thing, the requirements test on a knowledge of the history of invention in the US, but don’t actually teach any making skills (but in all fairness, the Electronics badge teaches soldering so why should it be in Inventing as well?) The scouts do get to create a prototype of their invention.

Not unexpectedly there is a heavy emphasis on intellectual property, with Scouts learning about the importance of patents, how to look them up and how they’re registered with the government. This brings up my biggest complaint about the badge: it doesn’t teach about the maker world’s affinity for openly shared ideas. Although they do mention it obliquely:

Discuss with your counselor the types of inventions that are appropriate to share with others, and explain why. Tell your counselor about one nonpatented or noncopyrighted invention and its impact on society.

No mention of Community Commons, copyleft, or open source? C’mon.

However, all is forgiven because the guidelines suggest MAKE as being one of two periodicals scouts should reference for inspiration. I couldn’t agree more.

[Via Fast Company]

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net

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