Re: New Computer Merit Badge Requiremebts
Bob Haar (rhaar@ALBERT.CS.GMR.COM)
Tue, 24 Aug 1993 16:07:25 EDT
> > The new Computer MB book showed up at our Scout Office. No longer do
> > the Scouts need to find a punch card or draw a flowchart, or know the
> > difference between analog and digital computers. In fact none of those
> > appear in the new book.
> Thank God. As a Computer Science student, I'm glad to see some upgraded
> requirements for this badge.
I haven't seen the new M.B. book, so I am making a meta-comment here.
I could not agree more that the requirements and the textual material
need a substantial re-write to be more up to date. But as a
Ph. D. in computer science with > 20 years of experience in
teaching, research and industrial applications, I disagree with
some of the comments that have been made in this mail list.
But I feel that the three specific items mentioned above should not
have been removed.
The punched card era was a significant part of the history of computers,
and as a transition from external programming to internally stored
programs, it is as important as the development of the Von Neumann
Some type of programming diagram (maybe not traditional flowcharts)
should be included. Understanding the flow of excution through a
program is frequently difficult for novice programmers. A graphical
representation of the program structure can often help. This is especially
true for students who are learning to program in languages like BASIC
that are not naturaly structured.
> > 5. Do TWO of the following:
> > b. Use a computer attached to a local area network or equipped with a
> > modem to connect to a computer network or bulletin-board service
> > such as Prodigy, CompuServe, or America Online. Send a message to
> > someone on the network or download a program or file from the network.
> Too bad they don't mention the Internet and Usenet here. It seems that
> it would be a good idea to talk about the new "information infrastructure"
> and "data super-highway". :-)
I agree in principle, but the term "data super-highway" is
more of a political buzzword and will be dated very rapidly.
This discussion suggests to me that the M.B. book is focused
on the personal computer at home rather than in a professional
setting. I can understand that this is most likely contact that
scouts will have, but it does present a limited view of computing.
> > 6. Be prepared to discuss several terms used in the floowing categories:
> > a. Input/output devices
> > b. Storage media
> > c. Memory
> > d. Processors and co-processors
> > e. Modems
> > f. Networks
> > g. Electronic Mail
> > h. Robotics
> Where is programming theory here? They talked about languages and their
> uses, but what about simple constrol and data structures? Object
> orientation vs. modularization?
> > 8. Is it permissible to accept a free copy of a computer game or program fro
> > a friend? Why or wby not?
> I'd like to see if the handbook discusses freeware, shareware, etc.
Or in a more general area, how about a good discusison of ethics and
legal issues related to computing. Obviously, this cannot be very
complete, but it could introduce concepts like intellectual
property and privacy.
Does the M.B. book discuss topics like embedded control systems
and automation beyond robotics?
On a more general level, I am glad that the Computer merit badge book
is being updated, but I wish that National would have seen the
potential of getting advanced reviews from those of us in the
computing world a general discussion on the various networks. But I
am not surprised given BSA's history of resistance to using
Chartered Organization Representative, Troop and Pack 188
BSA, Clinton Valley Council, Pontiac, Michigan, USA.
Chippewa Lodge #29, WWW
email: firstname.lastname@example.org (InterNet)
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Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City