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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.


Purchase the merit badge pamphlet

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 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. Discuss with your counselor the history of programming and the evolution of programming languages.

3. General knowledge. Do the following:
  a. Create a list of five 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 the four types of intellectual property used to protect computer programs.
  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. Modify the code or add a function or subroutine 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 that require knowledge 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

51 Comments on Programming merit badge


  2. Just wanted to mention that this is out dated

  3. AnotherScout // November 16, 2023 at 7:42 pm // Reply

    Golang is missing

  4. AntNameKid // July 4, 2022 at 3:44 pm // Reply

    Good Merit Badge. It’s a lot of fun! Expand your brain, with price of pain.

  5. what about esoteric languages???

  6. SHREDDED CHEESE // October 24, 2020 at 5:50 pm // Reply


  7. chickie nuggie // September 15, 2020 at 9:58 pm // Reply

    programming = most underrated super power there is

  8. Lostandfound // August 1, 2020 at 8:04 pm // Reply

    Need help for 4c the part that reads why it is important to respect the terms of use of each.

  9. We need help for 4c why it is important to respect the terms of use of each.

  10. Where can I find info on intellectual property?


  12. almost eagle at age 13 // February 4, 2020 at 6:17 pm // Reply

    I love HTML and Javascrpit

  13. I need help to download python

  14. FormerGameDev // June 23, 2019 at 6:31 pm // Reply

    HTML, css, svg, and several others are “declarative” languages that describe something static. Programs make decisions, they loop through lists and act on their contents.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the visual programming languages on the list here, though I wouldn’t want more than one of the three projects to be in one. I think they’re great for separating concepts from the underlying language’s syntax. You can then teach them independently.

  15. MB counselor in NY // March 22, 2019 at 9:12 pm // Reply

    Didn’t the requirements change slightly in 2017? The list on this page still reflects the original 2013 requirements. Please update.

  16. ProgrammerBoiBoss // January 25, 2019 at 5:24 pm // Reply

    You should include Swift.

  17. HTML???

  18. Where’s HTML? Why does this badge content teach CSS but NOT HTML? In my personal opinion, I beleive HTML should also be taught in this merit badge.

  19. do you know whats for dinner 😉

  20. I_like_programming // October 17, 2016 at 9:36 pm // Reply

    why is css not on the list for the GET STARTED PROGRAMMING list?

  21. mr big bri // June 8, 2016 at 9:58 am // Reply

    Entertainment = Gaming

  22. ScoutLeader // April 12, 2016 at 10:58 pm // Reply

    Anyone know of good, online resources for completing the “History” and “Intellectual Property” requirements of the programming merit badge?

  23. I second the question about the gaming industry. My son wants to be a gaming programmer and that industry is missing in the dropdown choices.

  24. Why is there no gaming industry in the drop down menu?

  25. It doesn’t show me a list of programming programs to use like the video said.

  26. Good post, I just can’t understand why HTML5 isn’t on the list?

  27. hello?

  28. If the BSA discourages the use of Merit Badge Worksheets, why is there a link to a third party merit badge worksheet on this blog?

    • BSA does allow the use of Merit Badge worksheets as a tool for helping Scouts to organize their work on merit badges, and a way to document written requirements. They don’t substitute for a conversation or discussion with the counselor, of course.

  29. agree with jross233

  30. 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.

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


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