Old Hickory Council - Hanging Rock District

Troop 444: Nuclear Science Merit Badge


Nuclear Science




  1. Do the following:
        A. Describe the biological effects and hazards of radiation to humankind, the environment, and wildlife.
              Explain the difference between deterministic and stochastic effects. In your explanation, discuss
              the nature and magnitude of radiation risks to humans from nuclear power, medical radiation, and
              background radiation. Explain the measures required by law to minimize these risks.
        B. Describe the radiation hazard symbol and explain where it should be used. Tell why and how people
              must use radiation or radioactive materials carefully.
  2. Tell the meaning of the following: ALARA, alpha particle, atom, background radiation, beta particle, contamination, curie and becquerel, gamma ray, half-life, ionization, quark, isotope, neutron, nuclear energy, nuclear reactor, particle accelerator, rad and gray, radiation, radioactivity, radon, rem and sievert, and X-ray.
  3. Choose five individuals important to the field of atomic energy and nuclear science and explain each person's contribution.
  4. 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. Then do the following:
        A. Make a drawing showing how nuclear fission happens, labeling all details. Draw another picture
              showing how a chain reaction could be started and how it could be stopped.
        B. Explain what is meant by a "critical mass."
  5. Do any THREE of the following:
        A. Build an electroscope. Show how it works. Place a radiation source inside and explain any
              difference seen.
        B. Build a model of a reactor. Show the fuel, control rods, shielding, moderator, and any cooling
              material. Explain how a reactor could be used to change nuclear energy into electrical energy or
              make things radioactive.
        C. Using a radiation survey meter and a radioactive source, show how the measurements per minute
              change as the source gets closer to or farther from the radiation detector. Place three different
              kinds of materials between the source and the detector, then explain any differences in the
              measurements per minute. Explain how time, distance, and shielding can reduce the radiation
        D. Obtain a sample of irradiated and non-irradiated foods. Prepare the two foods and compare their
              taste and texture. Store the leftovers in separate containers and under the same conditions. For a
              period of 14 days, observe their rate of decomposition or spoilage, and describe the differences you
              see on days 5, 10, and 14.
        E. Describe how radon is detected in homes. Discuss the steps taken for the long-term and short-term
              test methods, how to interpret the results, and explain when each type of test should be used.
              Explain the health concern related to radon gas and tell what steps can be taken to reduce radon in
        F. Visit a place where X-ray is used. Draw a floor plan of the room in which it is used. Show where the
              unit, the unit operator, and the patient would be when X-ray is used. Explain the precautions taken
              when X-ray is used and the importance of those precautions.
        G. Make a cloud chamber. Show how it can be used to see the tracks caused by radiation. Explain
              what is happening.
        H. Visit a place where radioisotopes are being used. Using a drawing, explain how and why they are
        I. Obtain samples of irradiated seeds. Plant them. Plant a group of non-irradiated seeds of the same
              kind. Grow both groups. List any differences you observe during a 30-day period. Discuss with your
              counselor what irradiation does to seeds.
        J. 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.
  6. Do ONE of the following:
        A. Give an example of each of the following in relation to how energy from an atom can be used:
              nuclear medicine, environmental applications, industrial applications, space exploration, and
              radiation therapy. For each example, explain the application and its significance to nuclear
        B. Find out how many nuclear power plants exist in the United States. Locate the one nearest your
              home. Find out what percentage of electricity in the United States is generated by nuclear power
              plants, by coal, and by gas.
        C. Name three particle accelerators in the United States and describe the type of experiments each
              accelerator is designed to perform.
  7. 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.

Nuclear Science Worksheets for use in working on these requirements

Boy Scout Oath

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Boy Scout Law

A Scout Is...

A Scout tells the truth.
He keeps his promises.
Honesty is part of his code of conduct.
People can depend on him.
A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.LOYAL
A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.HELPFUL
A Scout is a friend to all.
He is a brother to other Scouts.
He seeks to understand others.
He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position.
He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle.
He treats others as he wants to be treated.
He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.
A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop.
He obeys the laws of his community and country.
If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.
A Scout looks for the bright side of things.
He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
A Scout works to pay his way and to help others.
He saves for unforeseen needs.
He protects and conserves natural resources.
He carefully uses time and property.
A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid.
He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.
A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean.
He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals.
He helps keep his home and community clean.
A Scout is reverent toward God.
He is faithful in his religious duties.
He respects the beliefs of others.