The three most popular merit badges — first aid, swimming and camping — are also among the oldest, introduced in 1911.
A few of the newer options among the 122 available aren’t yet as highly ranked.
Scuba diving (most recent, introduced in Dec. 2009; rank unknown): After earning their swimming merit badge — naturally — scouts earn an open-water-diver certificate and learn about aquatic ecosystems.
Nuclear science (2005; ranked 90th): Scouts learn about atomic energy, the dangers of radiation and the amount of power generated by nuclear plants in the United States.
Snow sports (1999; ranked 65th): Scouts learn to downhill ski, cross-country ski or snowboard — “the fastest and most thrilling ways to travel on foot in snow country,” according to the Boy Scouts.
Entrepreneurship (1998; ranked 119th): Scouts launch their own business after identifying a target market, organizing their financing and laying out business goals.
Disabilities awareness (1994; ranked 104th): Scouts learn about the challenges disabilities pose, then visit two places — a school and a theater, for example — to identify five things that can be done to improve the spot for those with disabilities.
Reptile and amphibian study (1994; ranked 48th): Scouts either care for a reptile or amphibian for a month or study one in a zoo for three months. They also can learn how to recognize species on sight and identify frog and toad calls.
Cinematography (1989; ranked 109th): Scouts lay out a storyboard, show that they know how to use cameras and tripods, and then shoot a short film.
American labor (1987; ranked 118th): Scouts can attend a labor union meeting, and also learn about globalization, labor negotiations and the history of the American labor movement from 1770 to now.