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Programming merit badge

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Earning the Programming merit badge will take you “behind the screen” for a look at the complex codes that make digital devices useful and fun. Without programs, today’s high-tech gadgets would be little more than empty shells. But given clear instructions, digital devices can do amazing things and perform operations that would have seemed like magic to people in the past.

By the time you fulfill the requirements for the Programming merit badge, you will be able to work a little of that “magic” yourself. And you might find yourself joining the legions of young programmers who create so much innovative software. Whatever the need, somebody somewhere has written a program to answer it. You could become that somebody. Happy programming!


Get help with Requirement 5! Select a programming language for sample programs, resources, tips, videos and more. Use the dropdown menu to filter languages by industry.

Don’t see your favorite programming language? Click here to suggest a language


Purchase the merit badge pamphlet

Download a workbook

Printable requirements

programming1. Safety. Do the following:
  a. Show your counselor your current, up-to-date Cyber Chip.
  b. Discuss first aid and prevention for the types of injuries or illnesses that could occur during programming activities, including repetitive stress injuries and eyestrain.

2. History. Do the following:
  a. Give a brief history of programming, including at least three milestones related to the advancement or development of programming.
  b. Describe the evolution of programming methods and how they have improved over time.

3. General knowledge. Do the following:
  a. Create a list of 10 popular programming languages in use today and describe which industry or industries they are primarily used in and why.
  b. Describe three different programmed devices you rely on every day.

4. Intellectual property. Do the following:
  a. Explain how software patents and copyrights protect a programmer.
  b. Describe the difference between licensing and owning software.
  c. Describe the differences between freeware, open source, and commercial software, and why it is important to respect the terms of use of each.

5. Projects. Do the following:
  a. With your counselor’s approval, choose a sample program. Then, as a minimum, modify the code or add a function or subprogram to it. Debug and demonstrate the modified program to your counselor.
  b. With your counselor’s approval, choose a second programming language and development environment, different from those used for requirement 5a and in a different industry from 5a. Then write, debug, and demonstrate a functioning program to your counselor, using that language and environment.
  c. With your counselor’s approval, choose a third programming language and development environment, different from those used for requirements 5a and 5b and in a different industry from 5a or 5b. Then write, debug, and demonstrate a functioning program to your counselor, using that language and environment.
  d. Explain how the programs you wrote for requirements 5a, 5b, and 5c process inputs, how they make decisions based on those inputs, and how they provide outputs based on the decision making.

6. Careers. Find out about three career opportunities in programming. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required. Discuss this with your counselor and explain why this career might be of interest to you.


Earning the Cyber Chip can help you learn how to stay safe while you are online and using social networks or the latest electronic gadgets.

Topics include cell phone use, texting, blogging, gaming, cyberbullying, and identity theft. Find out more about the Cyber Chip at


Videos and activities used during the inaugural launch of the Programming Merit Badge at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.

Robotic arm activity video
Factory automation activity video
Embedded programming activity video

2 Comments on Programming merit badge

  1. I believe that this merit badge will give scouts a look into the world of STEM. ScienceTechnologyEngineeringMathmatics is taking over. If one person learns one little code, it may give the understanding of a new language and era.

  2. PatrioticBoy // October 22, 2015 at 1:41 pm // Reply


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