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Boy Scouts Earn Nuclear Science Merit Badge

Program Highlights Science, Engineering Careers

boy scouts earn badge
Prof. Clay French, along with student members of the American Nuclear Society, show Boy Scouts how to take radiation measurements at Pinanski Hall on North Campus.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

Dozens of local Boy Scouts recently visited UMass Lowell to work on a merit badge in nuclear science.

“The program is designed to use merit badges in encouraging boys from grades 7 to 12 to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” says electrical and computer engineering Prof. Jay Weitzen, who is the merit badge counselor for electronics, electricity, computers and nuclear science.

Weitzen hosted a group of 26 scouts for the nuclear science merit badge, with help from physics Prof. Clay French and students from the UMass Lowell chapter of the American Nuclear Society.

“In the prep work, the scouts learned about nuclear physics, atomic and sub-atomic particles, radiation safety and how nuclear reactors work,” says Weitzen. “In the field work, the boys went to the campus and made measurements of different kinds of radiation. They also toured the Radiation Lab’s particle accelerator and discussed the applications and safety of nuclear power, in light of what has happened in Japan.”

A number of faculty members from geology, electronics, plastics, materials science, meteorology and biology also hosted their own groups of scouts.

“This program is a great outreach and tends to attract highly motivated boys interested in science and engineering,” says Weitzen.