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Hooray, I’m a Science Scout!

I’m so excited. I was in the Girl Scouts for about a month back when I was 8 or 9, but I hated it because we didn’t get to light fires, fight bears, and discriminate against gay people like the Boy Scouts. Yeah, that last one was a tasteless joke.

Forget all that, though. Who needs the Girl Scouts when you have Science Scouts? I’m talking about the Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique. Are you jealous? I know you are. We even have badges! Here are mine:

The Talking Science Badge
(I do this all the time)

The Blogging Science Badge
(I’m doing this right now!)

The Arts and Crafts Badge
(Buttons, t-shirts, cards — hell, I make calendars of naked scientists)

The Destroyer of Quackery Badge
(Quacks fear me)

The Sexing up Science Badge
(The Scouts accept any reasonable interpretation of this badge. I believe it is more than reasonable to state that I do, in fact, sex up science)

The Prick Badge
(I know it’s shocking, but sometimes I can be a prick about science. SOMETIMES.)

The Anti-Sexual Harrassment Badge
(Actually I need to check on this one. I’m pretty sure I qualify because I am willing to kick the asses of sexual harrassers, so long as it’s not me doing the sexual harrassment.)

The “I Know What a Tadpole Is” Badge
(I do! Hee hee, it looks like a sperm.)

The “Has Received an Electrical Shock” Badge
(The experiment sought to answer the question, “Can I get my quarters back from the dryer and thus launder my clothes for free?” The hypothesis was “yes, I can.” The result was “BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.”)

The “I’ve Set Fire to Stuff” Badge
(Too many items to recount.)

The “I’m into Astro” Badge
(Level I: I have spent a significant amount of time peering through a telescope.)

There are a few more I could possibly claim (does testing the amount of time for Jello shots to set in the freezer versus the fridge get me the Freezing Badge? [I may take try another experiment with Jello shots in the near future to earn me a higher ranked fire badge]), but I’d like to get out there and be sure I’ve really earned my badges. Freezing and burning more things may be the best place to start. Better than fisting horses, at least.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Indeed, there is nothing listed in the qualifications for the "will glady kick sexual harasser's ass" badge that involves one's own behavoir. You're in on a technicality.

    I have to laugh at the "Has Received an Electrical Shock” badge. It had nothing to do with science, but when I was college, I spent one term helping out with the lighting for a play. It was a fairly miserable experience for unrelated reasons, but there was an incident involving electricity.

    I had to plug in some lighting equipment. This involved a rather climbing into a rather precarious position to put in the plug. On my first attempt, I didn't get the plug in and had to rethink how to reach. Well, the person in the booth saw me go up and back down again and assumed I had put the plug in, so she flipped the switch while I was going up for the second time.

    The result was I had my hand around the plug when the juice came on. Now, it was plugged in, and most of the electicity was going through the cable where it belongs, but this is a lot of current, so some of it bled out down my arm and through my body.

    I wasn't hurt at all, but it felt like my entire skin was vibrating and I couldn't let go of the plug. I think this was the only time in my life that I screamed profanity at a person who could hear what I was saying.

  2. What kind of scouting, girl or otherwise, doesn't involve lighting fires? The whole point of scouts is to go camping. All the rest – knot tying, neckerchiefs, good deeds – is just filler between the moments when you get to build a fire.

  3. Scouting should be co-ed, anyway. I went to cubs and scouts in a group that had girls as well as boys, and it didn't seem to cause any problems.

  4. I helped a lot of friends move, and on one occasion, I was removing a chandelier and even though they assured me the lightswitch was off, I received quite a shock. It sent the screwdriver I was holding flying across the room when my arm muscles suddenly contracted and jerked back. I almost fell off the table I was standing on too.

    I refused to touch the whole thing any further until they turned off all the circuit breakers.

  5. azink, I went to a co-ed scouts-group for years when I was younger. Oddly enouhg though, many of the other guys and girls went to all-boys or all-girls schools during the week (I just went to public school), and they would in fact make the whole scouts group far more awkward than school was for me. While I didn't have a problem talking to girls at school, the ones in the scouts group would just be excessively cliqy. And unfortunately, it was the same with the guys, so making friends and geting into that group was hard. And then I'd often just be standing around silently, not getting a bunch of the inside jokes and references to teachers and fellow students being made during conversation.

    So, anyway, I think co-ed schools and scouts groups are a good thing, because sexual segregation just results in cliques.

  6. If we're doing electric shocks:

    Being unable to get a bulb into a lamp for some reason, and using my fingers to explore what was actually there inside the lamp shade. Stuck my fingers into the bulb fixture and discovered that the switch was indeed on. I don't do that anymore.

    Trying to get a big ceiling fan and lights monstrosity down, holding the lamp with one hand while trying to unfasten the wires, and discovering that the light switch only cut one of the leads and that there was a way through parts of me to ground. These days I pull the fuses or turn off the main switch.

    And of course the initiation ritual to my university fraternity, the electric handshake. Old field telephone with hand cranked generator, varying AC current across the hand. Very unpleasant.

    Now excuse while I check out what other badges I might qualify for.

  7. azinyk, as a confirmed friend of fire through most of my early teens, I agree. I was never a scout, but was brought up by parents who loved camping. Laying, lighting and tending a fire are among the great simple pleasures of life.

  8. Is there an "I've subverted my genetic responsibility" badge? That'd be interesting to interpret. Geez louise, who let me in here – that was a little ribald for a Friday afternoon!

  9. I would like to point out that the "sexing up science" badge has INSECTS on it. See! It isn't just me!



    I edited this to add: OMG. I qualify for a frighteningly large number of these badges. I'll have to make a complete list on the bug blog :p

  10. your tiny electrical shock story is probly the funniest thing i've been privy to alll year (yes, privy) and I saw a squirrel actualy bite a man in the crotch.

  11. It's comments like BigHeathenMike's that make this blog so classy :)

    [and so difficult to explain why you're laughing in work….]

  12. This is so cool!

    They show you how to do PCR at home.

    You have to buy all the ingredients over the net though and thermal cyclers can be a bit expensive, even on eBay.

    Inkycircus even has its own geek t-shirts.

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