Scouting/BSA/Environmental Science Merit Badge

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Environmental Science is a required badge to qualify for Eagle Scout.

Requirement 1[edit]

Make a timeline of the history of environmental science in America. Identify the contribution made by the Boy Scouts of America to environmental science. Include dates, names of people or organizations, and important events.

Requirement 2[edit]

Define the following terms and describe the relationships among them: population, community, ecosystem, biosphere, symbiosis, niche, habitat, conservation, threatened species, endangered species, extinction, pollution prevention, brownfield, ozone, watershed, airshed, nonpoint source, hybrid vehicle, fuel cell. .
  • A population is the collection of people, or organisms of a particular species, living in a geographic area.
  • A community is a social group of organisms sharing an environment, normally with shared interests.
  • An ecosystem is a community of organisms (plant, animal and other living organisms - also referred as biocenose) together with their environment (or biotope), functioning as an unit.
  • The biosphere is that part of a planet's terrestrial system— including air, land and water— in which life develops, and which life processes in turn transform.
  • Symbiosis is an interaction between two organisms living together in more or less intimate association or even the merging of two dissimilar organisms.
  • A niche is the position of an organism or group of organisms within an ecosystem or the conditions making possible a habitat.
  • A habitat is the place where a particular organism usually lives or grows.
  • Conservation is an ethic of resource use, allocation, exploitation, and protection. Its primary focus is upon maintaining the health of the natural world: its forests, fisheries, habitats, and biological diversity. Secondary focus is on materials conservation and energy conservation, which are seen as important to protect the natural world.
  • Threatened species is an animal or plant species under a serious, but perhaps not imminent, threat of extinction.
  • An endangered species is a species whose population is so small that it is in danger of becoming extinct
  • Extinction is the disappearance of a species or group of species.
  • Pollution prevention is an activity that reduces the amount of pollution generated by a process, whether it is consumer consumption, driving, or industrial production.
  • Brownfields are properties with real or perceived environmental contamination that cause a barrier to redevelopment.
  • Ozone is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic O2. Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant with harmful effects on the respiratory systems of animals. The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere filters potentially damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the Earth's surface.
  • watershed the region drained into a river, river system or other body of water.
  • An airshed is a part of the atmosphere that behaves in a coherent way with respect to the dispersion of emissions.
  • nonpoint source pollutants that enter our water system from runoff that cannot be traced to a single identifiable point or source.
  • A hybrid vehicle is a vehicle that uses two or more distinct power sources to move the vehicle.
  • A fuel cell is an electrochemical conversion device. It produces electricity from fuel (on the anode side) and an oxidant (on the cathode side), which react in the presence of an electrolyte.

Requirement 3[edit]

Do ONE activity in EACH of the following categories (using the activities in this {the merit badge} pamphlet as the basis for planning and carrying out your projects):

A. Ecology

  1. Conduct an experiment to find out how living things respond to changes in their environments. Discuss your observations with your counselor.
  2. Conduct an experiment illustrating the greenhouse effect. Keep a journal of your data and observations. Discuss your conclusions with your counselor.
  3. Discuss what is an ecosystem. Tell how it is maintained in nature and how it survives.


B. Air Pollution

  1. Perform an experiment to test for particulates that contribute to air pollution. Discuss your findings with your counselor.
  2. Record the trips taken, mileage, and fuel consumption of a family car for seven days, and calculate how many miles per gallon the car gets. Determine whether any trips could have been combined ("chained") rather than taken out and back. Using the idea of trip chaining, determine how many miles and gallons of gas could have been saved in those seven days.
  3. Explain what is acid rain. In your explanation, tell how it affects plants and the environment and the steps society can take to help reduce its effects.

C. Water Pollution

  1. Conduct an experiment to show how living things react to thermal pollution. Discuss your observations with your counselor.
  2. Conduct an experiment to identify the methods that could be used to mediate (reduce) the effects of an oil spill on waterfowl. Discuss your results with your counselor.
  3. Describe the impact of a waterborne pollutant on an aquatic community. Write a 100-word report on how that pollutant affected aquatic fife and what the effect was.

D. Land Pollution

  1. Conduct an experiment to illustrate soil erosion by water. Take photographs or make a drawing of the soil before and after your experiment, and make a poster showing your results. Present your poster to your patrol or troop.
  2. Perform an experiment to determine the effect of an oil spill on land. Discuss your conclusions with your counselor.
  3. Photograph an area affected by erosion. Share your photographs with your counselor and discuss why the area has eroded and what might be done to help alleviate the erosion.

E. Endangered Species

  1. Do research on one endangered species found in your state. Find out what its natural habitat is, why it is endangered, what is being done to preserve it, and how many individual organisms are left in the wild. Prepare a 100-word report about the organism, including a drawing. Present your report to your patrol or troop.
  2. Do research on one species that was endangered or threatened but which has now recovered. Find out how the organism recovered, and what its new status is. Write a 100-word report on the species and discuss it with your counselor.
  3. With your parent's and counselor's approval, work with a natural resource professional to identify two projects that have been approved to improve the habitat for a threatened or endangered species in your area. Visit the site of one of these projects and report on what you saw.

F. Pollution Prevention, Resource Recovery, and Conservation

  1. Look around your home and determine 10 ways your family can help reduce pollution. Practice at least two of these methods for seven days and discuss with your counselor what you have learned.
  2. Determine 10 ways to conserve resources or use resources more efficiently in your home, at school, or at camp. Practice at least two of these methods for seven days and discuss with your counselor what you have learned.
  3. Perform an experiment on packaging materials to find out which ones are biodegradable. Discuss your conclusions with your counselor.
  4. Any of the experiments can be found near the end of the merit badge pamphlet which can be found at your local scout store for $4.49

Requirement 4[edit]

Choose two outdoor study areas that are very different from one another (e.g., hilltop vs. bottom of a hill; field vs. forest; swamp vs. dry land). For BOTH study areas, do ONE of the following:

A. Mark off a plot of 4 square yards in each study area, and count the number of species found there. Estimate how much space is occupied by each plant species and the type and number of nonplant species you find. Write a report that adequately discusses the biodiversity and population density of these study areas. Discuss your report with your counselor.

B. Make at least three visits to each of the two study areas (for a total of six visits), staying for at least 20 minutes each time, to observe the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem. Space each visit far enough apart that there are readily apparent differences in the observations. Keep a journal that includes the differences you observe. Then, write a short report that adequately addresses your observations, including how the differences of the study areas might relate to the differences noted, and discuss this with your counselor.

Requirement 5[edit]

Using the construction project provided or a plan you create on your own, identify the items that would need to be included in an environmental impact statement for the project planned.

Requirement 6[edit]

Find out about three career opportunities in environmental science. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

External links[edit]

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