Registration opens Thursday for Loper Launch summer enrichment program


UNK Communications

KEARNEY – From acting and art to science and sports, there’s something for everybody during the Loper Launch Enrichment Camp.

Formerly known as PAWS University, the popular University of Nebraska at Kearney program offers a variety of hands-on, educational activities for elementary and middle school students.

Amy Nebesniak
Amy Nebesniak

“This year we had more class proposals than we’ve ever had, which is really exciting,” said program director Amy Nebesniak, an associate professor in the UNK Department of Math and Statistics. “There are returning favorites like Slime Science, Lego workshops, Trick Shots and Brain Games, and we also have lots of brand-new classes like NASA Engineers, Plant Pizza, Abuela’s Kitchen and Seize the Clay. We came up with a camp catalog that should be interesting to any kid.”

Scheduled for June 5-30 on the UNK campus, Loper Launch features a wide selection of one-week workshops for students entering grades one through six, allowing parents to create a customized experience for their child. The program is also expanding this year to include three one-week workshops for students entering grades seven and eight.

“Since we’re in our fifth year, some of the campers who started with us as elementary students are now in middle school. We wanted to offer workshops specifically for them so they can continue participating in this summer learning program,” Nebesniak said.

There’s a Super Cyber STEM Camp focusing on cybersecurity, programming and robotics in Discovery Hall, a #trendingart workshop that allows students to explore popular art trends in the Fine Arts Building and a Chess Masters workshop led by Jacob Zimbelman, who coaches the chess club at Horizon Middle School.

The cost for each one-week workshop is $70 per student, or $45 for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Three different academies are available, as well.

Students entering grades four through six can sign up for the Performing Arts Academy, a unique opportunity to study the many aspects of music, theater and dance. Participants will learn choreography, make their own props, memorize dialogue, practice singing techniques and work as a team during this four-week academy presented in collaboration with Crane River Theater and UNK Music, Theatre and Dance. They’ll showcase everything they learned during a public performance of “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure Jr.”

During the four-week Reading Academy, students entering grades one through three will work with certified reading specialists to improve their reading skills through on-campus field trips and focused instruction in a fun, engaging environment.

Both four-week academies cost $280 per student, or $180 for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

UNK’s Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic is hosting a one-week Speech Academy designed to advance participants’ speech-language skills. Open to students entering grades one through four, this academy includes fun games and activities along with small-group and one-on-one instruction. It costs $70 per student, or $45 for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

All workshops and academies will run from 9 a.m. to noon each day, with an earlier drop-off option available for an added cost. Families who choose this option, known as Countdown Hour, can bring their kids to campus anytime between 7:30 and 8:45 a.m. Students will be able to read, play games, complete a craft or engage in educational technology during this time.

By using a morning-only format, each session is 30 minutes longer than previous years, allowing students to dive deeper into the different topics. The curriculum-based workshops and academies are led by educators from area school districts, preservice teachers from UNK and local professionals.

“Loper Launch is a place where students can come have fun while continuing to learn during the summer,” Nebesniak said. “Plus, it’s a great way to introduce kids to higher education and everything UNK has to offer.”

Registration opens 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 23, and closes May 3. Visit to check out the camp catalog and sign up for workshops or academies.

For more information, call 308-865-8643 or email