Scholars Academy at Central


June 23-27 Hastings Campus

The Scholars Academy at Central (SAC) is a premier one-week summer program for gifted and talented students who have just completed sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. This year's SAC is Sunday, June 21 to Thursday, June 25, 2020.

The Scholars Academy at Central is a great place for scholars to come together, make new friends among their intellectual peers, and experience small academic classes designed to provide challenging and enriching opportunities in robotics, science, and medieval studies.

Staffed by highly regarded professors from Central Community College and Hastings College, the residential program combines classroom learning with a variety of social and cultural events. This camp has been engaging talented, high ability learners for over three decades.  While the location of the camp has moved, the quality of instruction and opportunities for learning continue to help students expand their knowledge and ability to think innovatively. 

During their stay, scholars get a preview of college life. They room in campus residence halls under the supervision of SAC directors and eight college students who serve as their resident advisors and social group leaders. Leaders, professors, and students eat all meals together in the Central Community College cafeteria. There are several food choices for each meal, and we work to accommodate any special dietary needs. A registered nurse is also on call for students’ health needs.


Current students who have just completed sixth, seventh, and eighth grade who have proven ability in communications, language arts or science are eligible to apply. 

To participate, scholars must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Participation in a gifted program at school, or
  • Score at the 95th percentile or above in at least one area on a standardized achievement test such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, ACT, SAT, CAT or CTBS, or
  • One letter of nomination from school official.

Additionally, all campers will need to have a school counselor complete a brief form about the scholar’s learning styles and strengths as well as their ability to work with others.


The total registration fee of $550 is due by June 19. Apply and submit your deposit of $100 by May 15. The program includes tuition, room, board, activities, and professional staff and educators. If you have a student on the free or reduced lunch plan, we have scholarships to help offset the cost. Just let us know when you submit the application.


Ready, Set, ROBOT: Design, Manufacture, Construct, and Compete!

During the week at SAC, scholars who choose this track will design, test, 3-D print prototypes and CNC components, and assemble a working competition robot. The work will be done in concert with all things advanced manufacturing. The week will be filled with instruction in the fundamentals of CAD/CAM design, electronics, and computer programming. Scholars will learn the basics of 3-D modeling software and will use the software to design the pieces required to build the competition robot. Students will test and refine parts through the 3-D prototyping process by utilizing 3-D printers and 3-D software. Robot components will be used to guide the prototyping process and will be added to the finished parts to create a functional competition robot. The final day will include a contest to evaluate the design functionality and competitiveness of the robots. 

Instructors: Gene Friesen, Drafting and Design Technology Instructor, Central Community College, and Dan Gompert, Information Technology and Systems Instructor, Central Community College, Bruce Bartos and Brian Davis, Advanced Manufacturing Instructors, Central Community College.

Creepy Crawlies

From microbes to insects, there are creepy crawlies all around us, on us, and in us!  But actually a lot of them are not all that creepy--they are super cool.  Be prepared to find them anywhere as you slosh through streams or peer in microscopes.

Bring your messy sneakers to hike around the cemetery to collect samples, identify insects, and find out which habitats these creepy crawlies prefer. Then back in the lab under a microscope, you can find a whole new world of tiny organisms that you visit every time you go into a lake without even knowing beforehand that it was there. 

Instructors: Amanda Solem, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology, Hastings College, and Jason Carbaugh, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology, Hastings College

Angles & Saxons & Vikings (Oh My!)

Learn how a succession of invasions by barbarian tribes made medieval England. From language to literature, from law and government to battle tactics and castles, the England we think we know is actually the product of many cultures vying for control of this tiny island.  Map- and manuscript-making, language learning, literature reading, riddling and gaming, and the occasional invasion of neighboring classrooms are all to be expected.

Instructors: Robert Babcock, PhD, Professor of History, Hastings College and Benjamin Waller, PhD, Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Languages & Literatures Department, Hastings College

Academy Schedule

Opening Day Sunday, June 21

3-3:45 p.m. — Residence Hall check-in (Clay Hall)

4-4:30 p.m. — SAC welcome to students and their parents in Cottonwood Room (Hall Student Union)

4:30-5 p.m. — Teachers meet with students and parents in their classrooms

5-5:30 p.m. — Parents depart and students get settled in their dorm room

5:30-6:30 p.m. — Dinner and games for students/staff on lawn in front of Hall Student Union

6:30-7:30 p.m. — Social groups

7:30-8:30 p.m. — Opening class (classrooms)

8:30-9:30 p.m. — Social groups

9:30-10 p.m. — Residence hall time

10 p.m. — Lights out!

Daily Schedule for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (June 22-24)

8-8:30 a.m. — Breakfast

8:30-11:30 a.m. — Class

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. — Lunch

12:30-3:30 p.m. — Class

3:30-5 p.m. — Organized activity

5:30-6:30 p.m. — Dinner

6:30-7:15 p.m. — Social groups

7:30-9:30 p.m. — Evening group activity

9:30-10 p.m. — Residence hall time

10 p.m. — Lights out!

Final Day Thursday, June 25

8-8:30 a.m. — Breakfast

8:30-11:30 a.m. — Class

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. — Lunch

12:30-3:30 p.m. — Class

3:30-4:30 p.m. — Residence hall checkout/parents pick up students


All questions for the Scholars Academy at Central should be directed to:

Dr. Susan Oliver, SAC Director, 550 Technical Blvd, P.O. Box 1024, Hastings, NE 68901-1024

Checkout our Facebook page to stay up to date with SAC and view photos and activities from previous years.

Camp Administration

Susan Oliver, Ph.D. (director), Nutrition Professor at Central Community College. She has taught or directed Scholars Academy for 4 years.

Constance Malloy, Ph.D. (co-director), Professor Emeritus of English at Hastings College. She has taught or directed at Scholars Academy for 16 years.