Chemistry Merit Badge
Presentation Guide for Scout Leaders
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    Chemistry Merit Badge Chemistry Merit Badge gives scouts an opportunity for some fun experiments that you only wish they did in the public schools.

    A core element of this program are Chemistry themed project activities. This makes for a great program at a merit badge clinic or patrol night, but requires a lot of adult preparation and supervision.


    A) Program Teaser
    Special audio visual presentation for the start of program or even one week in advance.

    Chemistry explores how substances react with each other, how they change, how certain forces connect molecules, and how molecules are made are all parts of chemistry. Stretch your imagination to envision molecules that cannot be seen—but can be proven to exist—and you become a chemist.
    Chemistry Merit Badge
    Chemistry Merit Badge

    Show on Laptop or portable TV & crank up the sound!


    B) Prerequisites - Leaders
    Work to be done prior to program start:

      Review Official Requirements
      Easy Printable Version

      10 Tips for Merit Badge Counselors
      Get the most from your Merit Badge Adventure.

      Activity Center
      Scouts know they are in for a cool adventure when they are greated by at a large kitchen facility by a scientist wearing a big white lab coat, safety goggles, huge rubber gloves and a large chemistry kit of beaker, burners, fire extinquisher, safety equipment, etc.

      Chemistry Merit Badge Req #3: Cartesian Diver
      An opportunity for each scout to take home a working souvenir artifact. Ask each scout to bring a recycleble water bottle.

      Req #4a: Pre-Cooked Onions
      Cut a round onion into small chunks. Separate the onion chunks into three equal portions. Have enough samples for everyone to taste.


        1) Leave the first portion raw.
        2) Cook the second portion of onion chunks until the pieces are translucent.
        3) Cook the third portion until the onions are caramelized, or brown in color.

      Chemistry Experiments
      Be prepared to run the following experiments:


        #2a : Copper Sulfate and iron nail
        #3 : Cartesian Diver - water bottle & bobber
        #4b: Toothpaste and an abrasive household cleanser
        #4c: Oil, Water and mystery combining substance

      Req #7: Field Trip
      Discuss with your Patrol Leaders what your group can do to cover the requirements for #7 (see below).
      File Tour Plan - required for all BSA Field Trips.
      Field Trip Group RSVP -

    Other Resources


    C) Prerequisites - Scouts
    Work to be done prior to program start:


    ChemistryMerit Badge D) Study Hall

    The purpose of this section is to facilitate an opportunity for scouts to research and learn about key concepts relevant to this subject. They need to be prepared to explain these to the counselor.

    While some scouts may be adept at self-study, others may do better in a small group setting and taking notes on worksheets. You can facilitate discussion by asking them why each of the principles intruduced here would be relevant.

      Req #1: Safety Requirements:


        a. Describe three examples of safety equipment used in a chemistry laboratory and the reason each one is used.
        b. Describe what a material safety data sheet (MSDS) is and tell why it is used.
        c. Obtain an MSDS for both a paint and an insecticide. Compare and discuss the toxicity, disposal, and safe-handling sections for these two common household products.
        d. Discuss the safe storage of chemicals. How does the safe storage of chemicals apply to your home, your school, your community, and the environment?
        MSDS #1 - Kelly Moore Paints - Flat 14 Frost
        MSDS #2 - ArborJet Insecticide - AzaSol.

      Req #2b: Separating Elements
      Describe how you would separate sand from water, table salt from water, oil from water, and gasoline from motor oil. Name the practical processes that require these kinds of separations.

      Req #2c: Chemical Reactions
      Describe the difference between a chemical reaction and a physical change.

      Req #4: Chemical Similarities
      Do EACH of the following activities:


        a. Cut a round onion into small chunks. Separate the onion chunks into three equal portions. Leave the first portion raw. Cook the second portion of onion chunks until the pieces are translucent. Cook the third portion until the onions are caramelized, or brown in color. Taste each type of onion. Describe the taste of raw onion versus partially cooked onion versus caramelized onion. Explain what happens to molecules in the onion during the cooking process.
        b. Describe the chemical similarities and differences between toothpaste and an abrasive household cleanser. Explain how the end use or purpose of a product affects its chemical formulation.
        c. In a clear container, mix a half-cup of water with a tablespoon of oil. Explain why the oil and water do not mix. Find a substance that will help the two combine, and add it to the mixture. Describe what happened, and explain how that substance worked to combine the oil and water.

      ChemistryMerit Badge Req #5: The Four Divisions of Chemistry
      List the four classical divisions of chemistry. Briefly describe each one, and tell how it applies to your everyday life.
      Five Branches of Chemistry -

      Req #6: Chemical Pollution
      Do EACH of the following activities:


        a. Name two government agencies that are responsible for tracking the use of chemicals for commercial or industrial use. Pick one agency and briefly describe its responsibilities to the public and the environment.
        b. Define pollution. Explain the chemical effects of ozone, global warming, and acid rain. Pick a current environmental problem as an example. Briefly describe what people are doing to resolve this hazard and to increase understanding of the problem.
        c. Using reasons from chemistry, describe the effect on the environment of ONE of the following: 1. The production of aluminum cans or plastic milk cartons 2. Sulfur from burning coal 3. Used motor oil 4. Newspaper
        d. Briefly describe the purpose of phosphates in fertilizer and in laundry detergent. Explain how the use of phosphates in fertilizers affects the environment. Also, explain why phosphates have been removed from laundry detergents.

      Req #7: Chem Lab Field Trip
      Note: Option b available if you cannot do a chem lab field trip (a, c, or d):
      Do ONE of the following:
      b. Using resources found at the library and in periodicals, books, and the Internet (with your parent’s permission), learn about two different kinds of work done by chemists, chemical engineers, chemical technicians, or industrial chemists. For each of the four positions, find out the education and training requirements.

    .


    ChemistryMerit Badge E) Patrol Activity

      Req #2a: Copper Sulphate
      Predict what would happen if you placed an iron nail in a copper sulfate solution. Then, put an iron nail in a copper sulfate solution. Describe your observations and make a conclusion based on your observations. Compare your prediction and original conclusion with what actually happened. Write the formula for the reaction that you described.

      Req #3: Cartesian Diver
      Construct a Cartesian diver. Describe its function in terms of how gases in general behave under different pressures and different temperatures. Describe how the behavior of gases affects a backpacker at high altitudes and a scuba diver underwater.
      WikiHow - How to build a Cartesian Diver in 9 easy steps.


    F) Field Trip

    Req #7: Chem Lab Field Trip
    Note: Option b available if you cannot reach a chem lab (a, c, or d):
    Do ONE of the following:


      a. Visit a laboratory and talk to a practicing chemist. Ask what the chemist does and what training and education are needed to work as a chemist.
      c. Visit an industrial plant that makes chemical products or uses chemical processes and describe the processes used. What, if any, pollutants are produced and how are they handled?
      d. Visit a county farm agency or similar governmental agency and learn how chemistry is used to meet the needs of agriculture in your county.


    Chemistry Merit Badge G) Program Debriefing

    After completion of the above activities you may need a work session to finish completion of the merit badge worksheet to document the results of your visits, activities and the people you interviewed about potential career opportunities in this field.


    H) Extra Credit

    The Chemistry merit badge was one of the original 57 merit badges issued by the Boy Scouts of America in 1911.


    J) Chemistry Famous Quotes:

      William Ramsay (1852-1916) - The country which is in advance of the rest of the world in chemistry will also be foremost in wealth and in general prosperity.

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