Scholars Academy at Central

June 20-24
Hastings Campus

For gifted and talented students across Nebraska. . .

The Scholars Academy at Central (SAC) is a premier one-week summer program for gifted and talented students who have just completed sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. This year’s SAC is Sunday, June 20 to Thursday, June 24, 2021. 

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 film studies. 

Staffed by highly regarded professionals from surrounding colleges and metro areas, 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 changed over the years, 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 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, or eighth grade who have a 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. 

Registration Instructions 

Registration will remain open until the program reaches capacity, but we encourage the schedule below to guarantee your scholar a place. Once online registration is complete and the non-refundable $100 deposit is received, you will receive an information packet with additional forms that need to be completed and returned. Registration is complete when full payment and all forms are returned. 

Register online

Registration deadline for 2021 - May 17  


Apply and submit your deposit by May 17. The total registration fee of $550 is due by June 17. 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.

No refunds unless the event is canceled. If the event is canceled, a full refund will be processed. 


Robotics: Design & Coding Skills for the Next Frontier

Through advanced hands-on work, students will design, build, and code Lego NXT robots. This hands-on work will give students the chance to learn and utilize skills and strategies related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math while incorporating the Engineering Design Process. This course will challenge the students to innovate various robot designs to guide their robot over and through various terrains. The basics of coding will be taught in a block-style format utilizing the Lego NXT software, which will prepare the students for future coding courses taught in high school and college. We will end the week with a robot competition to utilize what the students have learned and challenge their fellow scholars! 

Instructor: Jordan A. Borrell, PhD, Research Associate of Biomechanics, University of Nebraska at Omaha 

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 various locations, on campus and off, 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 

“This is the Way”: An Exploration of The Mandalorian

Do you love the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian? If you do, this is the perfect class for you. Patrick White, movie reviewer for the Hastings Tribune and Star Wars superfan, will take students on a hero’s journey through the award-winning show. You might wonder, “How is this educational?” But by the end of the class, you’ll be wondering why doesn’t my school have a Mandalorian class? During the class, we’ll watch key episodes from both seasons and analyze filmmaking choices. We will also dig deeper into the Star Wars lore and learn how classic westerns and samurai films inspired The Mandalorian. If that wasn’t enough, we’ll look behind the scenes at how this exceptional show was produced and what is to come from the Star Wars universe. 

Instructor: Patrick White MAT, Movie Reviewer, Hastings Tribune, and General Manager, ACX Cinema 12+. Patrick has been a part of Scholars Academy for 6 years serving in various capacities including RA, teacher, and assistant director. 

Academy Schedule

Opening Day Sunday, June 20

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 21-23)

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 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

3:30-4:30 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 at Scholars Academy for 4 years. 

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