The Boy Scout Nuclear Science Merit Badge
Picture of the Boy Scout Merrit Badge

In 2005, the Boy Scouts of America revised a merit badge called Atomic Energy and renamed it Nuclear Science.  More than 5,000 boys earn this award every year.  The new badge contains activities that are directly related to what we, nuclear scientists, do everyday.  Helping scouts earn this badge provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate what we do.  Perhaps you could motivate a future scientist. There are several activities that directly relate to us. These requirements include:

  • Tell the meaning of the following: alpha particle, atom, background radiation, beta particle, neutron, nuclear energy, nuclear reactor, particle accelerator, etc.
  • Choose five individuals important to the field of atomic energy and nuclear science and explain each person's contribution.
  • Visit an accelerator (research lab) or university where people study the properties of the nucleus.  After your visit, discuss what you have learned with your counselor.
  • 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.


The complete description can be found here. You can find your local council by going to and clicking on "local council".  The badge's requirements are simple enough that scouts can earn this award in a one-day session or two half-day sessions.  We encourage you to participate in this outreach effort.


Shamsuzzaha Basunia, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has created a short video on how to create an electroscope.

Double click to start or stop the video.  


We have developed two PowerPoint presentations for your use. The first one is a general presentation and the second presentation discusses famous Nuclear Scientists. Please feel free to use them as you acknowledge us.

Picture of the Nucleus Requirement 2b: "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".