National Radio Astronomy Observatory Education Program Director SueAnn Heatherly explains to scouts in Troop 209 of Silver Springs, Maryland, how to use Play-Doh and a battery to light an LED light.  The Troop, along with Cub Scout Pack 275, visited the NRAO last weekend to earn the Electronic Merit Badge. S. Stewart photo
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Education Program Director SueAnn Heatherly explains to scouts in Troop 209 of Silver Springs, Maryland, how to use Play-Doh and a battery to light an LED light. The Troop, along with Cub Scout Pack 275, visited the NRAO last weekend to earn the Electronic Merit Badge. S. Stewart photo

Members of Boy Scout Troop 209 and Cub Scout Pack 275 of Silver Springs, Maryland, visited the National Radio Astronomy Observatory last weekend for more than just a tour of the telescopes and the known universe. The scouts got a hands-on education and earned the Electronics Merit Badge.

Education Program Director SueAnn Heatherly and Kathryn Williamson led the scouts in an experiment where they learned to conduct electricity using a battery, play-doh and an LED light.

Troop 209 Scout Master Bill Peters said the troop has visited the NRAO several years and continues to enjoy the educational weekend.

“It’s already been eye opening for them and it will continue to be that way,” Peters said. “Part of what they’re doing is the Electronics Merit Badge, and later on we’ll be going back out, and having some opportunity with some of the telescopes.”

Troop 209 was established in 1918 and continues to seek programs which encourage the aims of scouting, including character development, fostering leadership and fitness – both mental and physical.

The NRAO offers programs for scouts to earn an Electronics Merit Badge and an Astronomy Merit Badge.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com