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  • Jim Blanchard, ScD

See The STEM, Be the STEM

Resolution 18-1. Get out to Camp Snyder and make a difference. As the Chief Scientist for the Unmanned Autonomous Systems Academy (UASA), I'm lucky to be in a position to make things happen. Even more blessed by the ability to give back to the organization that made a big impact on my life, and gave me an early head start on my leadership development. The picture taken in JUL 1975 is from Boy's Life FEB 1977, p28-29. Troop 1942, Annandale, VA. There is a deeper story to tell around the campfire about how much this troop means to me even 40 years later, but for now let's talk STEM.

Now much sail area do we need? Where should we step the masts? How many helms? Should the middle canoe be forward, even, or abaft the stern? How can we tack if the wind changes? Where is the center of gravity? Where is the center of buoyancy? How can we get a picture if we are all on board? What is the man overboard plan?

Get the idea? ...and I think I recall us actually making adjustments to the raft structure underway.

So that is STEM in action, and there is now a new trend to add Art (A) to the acronym, STEAM. I would also add another meaning of the M - Management.

So back to the resolution. Let's start with what we have. A great venue at Camp Snyder, and a world-class scout population with leaders in place. I think I can help. Let's focus on Environment and STEM oriented merit badges. We'll work with the land, the people, and the mission of the camp. See how it goes. Then share the results and the way we achieved them so others can get a head start on doing this in their councils.

Oh yeah. We do Land.Air.Sea Robotics (LASR) so instead of a five canoe sailing raft, we'll use smaller scale vessels and teach them how to navigate and sample the wetlands using human-centered robotics (it's still about the Scouts). Might even be a race or two... and with an aerial robot we can get the pictures too (Photography merit badge anyone?).