Hastings College Scholars Academy

The Hastings College Scholars Academy (HCSA) is a premier one-week summer program for gifted and talented students who have just completed sixth, seventh and eighth grade. This year’s HCSA is Sunday, June 23 to Friday, June 28, 2019.

The Hastings College Scholars Academy 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 history, robotics and science.

Staffed by highly regarded professors from Hastings College, the residential program combines classroom learning with a variety of social and cultural events. This is our 32nd year of providing a high-quality experience for gifted and talented students!

During their stay, scholars get a preview of college life. They stay in campus residence halls under the supervision of HCSA 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 Hastings 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.

2019 Scholars Academy

The 2019 Academy is scheduled for Sunday, June 23 to Friday, June 28, 2019.


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.
Program Details

Below are the classes offered in 2018. Click a title to expand and view details about the section.

Classes for 2019 will be provided as soon as they are available. 

Medieval Russia: Rise of the Tsars!

Students in this class will study the creation of Russia, a place that started as a handful of Slavic-speaking towns protected by Viking warlords and became the largest country in Europe, ruled by an unquestioned absolute monarch. Students will begin learning Russia’s unique language, come to understand Russia’s unique form of Christianity, and understand  how a series of remarkable warrior princes paved the way for the absolute monarchs called tsars. Language Study, geography, literary analysis and historical analysis.

Instructor: Dr. Robert S. Babcock, Professor of History, Hastings College


In this class, students will design, build and program robots in an advanced hands-on classroom structure. Students will begin to learn the basics of coding via a LabView format, with the main focus on NXT Lego robots, and within an Arduino (a coding language similar to C++). Fun highlights of the course include a battle-bot soccer game with the CEENBots, the building of a Vincent Van Gogh Scribble Robot out of household material, learning of 3-D modeling software and associated 3-D printing, design and development of a robotic hand, and construction and launch of water bottle rockets. At the end of the week, the students will be challenged to use what they’ve learned to successfully navigate a giant maze with the sensor attachments of the NXT robot.

Instructor: Jordan Borrell, a Hastings College graduate and Ph.D. candidate in Bioengineering at the University of Kansas

Are you hungry? What would you like to eat? How far will you have to go to get whatever it is that you want to eat? Have you ever wondered where your food comes from or how it gets from the field or orchard or farm to you? During your week at HCSA, we will explore different food systems and learn more about how you, your family, your friends and others get access to food…both locally and globally. We will be visiting a few places around the Hastings area and talking to individuals directly and indirectly related to the process of making sure our food is wholesome and safe.

Instructor: Dr. Susan Oliver, Nutrition Instructor at Central Community College

In this class, students will play with the inheritance of simple and complex genetic traits. In addition to exercises that distinguish genetic make-up from physical appearance, we will talk about genes, what they are made of and how we know. Students will isolate DNA from their own cells and from other sources. With the DNA isolated, we will use PCR and electropho­resis, both techniques of modern forensics and molecular biology, to determine specific DNA make-up for the ability to taste a particular compound.

Instructor: Dr. John Bohmfalk, Professor of Biology and Chemistry, Hastings College

Academy Schedule

Opening Day • Sunday, June 23

3:00-3:45 p.m. — Residence Hall check-in
4:00-4:30 p.m. — HCSA welcome to students and their parents in French Memorial Chapel
4:30-5:00 p.m.  Teachers meet with students and parents in their classrooms
5-5:30 p.m.  Parents depart and students get settled in their rooms
5:30-6:30 p.m.  BBQ and games for students/ staff on lawn behind Hazelrigg 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
10-10:30 p.m.  Residence hall time
10:30 p.m.  Lights out!


8:00-8:30 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
9:30-10:30 p.m.  Residence hall time
10:30 p.m.  Lights out!

Final Day • Friday, June 28

3:00 p.m.  Residence hall checkout/parents pick up students

Registration Instructions

Registration will remain open until the program reaches capacity, but we encourage the schedule below to guarantee your scholar a place. Registration is complete when the registration form and full payment or a $100 deposit are received.

Register online here » (coming soon)

Note: Returning scholars do not need to complete eligibility requirements in the registration form.

Registration Deadline for 2018

  • May 14 or until classes are full
    All Applications Due, with total fee ($550)

Apply and submit your deposit by May 14. The total registration fee of $550 is due by May 26 for this year’s Academy.

The program fee includes tuition, room, board, activities and professional staff and educators. An optional outing to Trapped Downtown, an escape room experience, is an additional $20.

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.


All questions for the Hastings College Scholars Academy should be directed to:

Dr. Constance Malloy, HCSA Director
Department of Languages and Literatures
Hastings College
710 N. Turner Avenue
Hastings, NE  68901

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

Camp Administration
Constance Malloy, Ph.D. (director), Professor of English at Hastings College. She has taught or directed at HCSA for 15 years.

Tessie Boudreau, M.A. (co-director), Literacy Facilitator for Papillion-LaVista Schools. She has served as an Assistant Director and RA for HCSA for 21 years.

Former participants give the Scholars Academy rave reviews!

  • “I met so many new friends!”
  • “I wish it were two weeks.”
  • “Awesome teachers.”
  • “It’s the best camp in the world.”
  • “The field trips were a blast.”
  • “I really learned a lot, wish I could come back next year.”