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Scouts earn nuclear science merit badge at expo

During National Nuclear Science Week, the Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society hosted a nuclear science merit badge expo Thursday night for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Some 120 Scouts filled the Shilo Inn convention center in Idaho Falls. David Boyce, one of the organizers with the Boy Scouts of America, said he had to turn Scouts away.

“It filled up within just a few hours,” said Boyce. “My phone has been ringing off the hook all weekend with phone calls from people wanting to register.”

Every requirement for the nuclear science merit badge was offered at the expo. Boy Scout leader William O’Steen said expos like Thursday’s help benefit all involved.

“It’d be a lot harder for a boy to earn his merit badge, trying to get these requirements where you don’t have all these resources pulled together at one point,” said O’Steen.

The Scouts rotated in groups to different hands-on exhibits on topics from atoms to radiation detection. Scouts even lined up and ate hamburgers that were irradiated thanks to nuclear science.

“The meat has been exposed to extremely high levels of radiation that kill all of the bacteria in it,” said O’Steen.

Boy Scout Carson Briggs joined his troop in spring, so he was excited to earn his second badge ever, in a topic that fascinates him.

“I took a class last year and it was about nuclear energy,” said Briggs. “It was really cool.”

Boyce said he never anticipated so much interest in the expo. Next time he hopes to accommodate more Scouts in possibly a bigger venue and additional days

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