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ERIC Number: EJ1121272
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Abstractor: As Provided
Environmental Science and Engineering Merit Badges: An Exploratory Case Study of a Non-Formal Science Education Program and the U.S. Scientific and Engineering Practices
Vick, Matthew E.; Garvey, Michael P.
International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, v11 n18 p11675-11698 2016
The Boy Scouts of America's Environmental Science and Engineering merit badges are two of their over 120 merit badges offered as a part of a non-formal educational program to U.S. boys. The Scientific and Engineering Practices of the U.S. Next Generation Science Standards provide a vision of science education that includes integrating eight practices that engage youth in inquiry-based learning and investigative design and interpretation. This exploratory study uses document analysis triangulated with a questionnaire under the general principles of program evaluation as a case study to examine the potential alignment of the Boy Scouts of America's Environmental Science and Engineering merit badges and the Scientific and Engineering Practices of the NGSS. Merit badge requirements were matched with specific elements of the S&EP as described by the NGSS Appendix F progressions for middle school aged youth. The cognitive demand of the requirements was also analyzed using Webb's Depth of Knowledge. Questionnaires were sent to volunteer merit badge counselors for one Midwestern U.S. Boy Scout council. Their responses were used to inform the analysis of the merit badge requirements. The requirements for both of these badges show connections to several of the S&EP, especially S&EP 3: conducting investigation and S&EP 6: constructing explanations and designing solutions. Triangulating data from merit badge counselors show that Scouts in Engineering merit badge do engage in the engineering design process very much and potentially engage them in investigations and construction of explanations with Environmental Science. Several of the merit badge counselors were highly educated scientists and engineers. Often, these counselors reported engaging Scouts in a manner closest to the vision of the NGSS S&EP. One of the limitations of the Environmental Science merit badge is that investigations are mostly elective options. This exploratory study concludes that the requirements for Boy Scout merit badges are designed in manners that can engage youth in the S&EP. Counselors do affect the extent to which these practices are incorporated. Future studies should examine the learning by youth from merit badges as related to S&EP and general science and engineering content knowledge.
Descriptors: Youth Programs, Males, Questionnaires, Case Studies, Recognition (Achievement), Standards, Science Education, Environmental Education, Engineering Education, Informal Education, Content Analysis, Documentation, Knowledge Level
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
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