Academy is a science club for youth that meets at Community of Grace Church in Elkhorn. Academy activities focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) topics. This past year, they have learned about robots, rockets and flight, solar energy, building science, embryology, and caring for and showing birds.
This time of year is robot season. Members learn how to design, build, and program robots. They learn about engineering design. They use a simple engineering model where they ask what they are trying to accomplish, imagine how they can accomplish this, plan how they can accomplish this, create a plan, and then improve on the plan. They also learn about the importance of documenting everything they do. Most importantly, they learn how to become a team and have fun!
This year they are participating in the First LEGO League (FLL). First LEGO League has three parts: the robot game, the core values presentation, and the project. During the robot game they use the engineering model to design and build a LEGO robot that is used on a game board that has a variety of themed missions for the robot to accomplish. The team’s robot needs to autonomously complete these missions. This means that the robot receives instructions, through programming, that it acts on. The robot has no other human intervention, such as through a remote control.
Academy members try to live by a set of core values. Core values are a set of goals that can help you improve yourself in different ways. For example, Academy members try to be a team, do their own work with guidance from their coaches, be good sports, and have fun!
This year Academy is working with the theme Nature’s Fury. Academy members research the theme, identify a problem, and find an innovative solution to the identified problem. So far this year, nine emergency management professionals have presented topics to the team members related to Nature’s Fury. In addition, team members have researched organizational and professional papers about Nature’s Fury. Among these experts, they found a consistent theme. People do not prepare for disasters, do not realize the importance of preparing, and do not know how to prepare. Academy members decided they wanted to work on this problem by providing information to people about the importance of preparing and how to prepare for a disaster. Academy’s goal is to reach out to as many people as possible. Academy members will write a series of articles to be published periodically in the Douglas County Post-Gazette throughout this next year. They also plan to have a demonstration of the FLL robot game and to provide emergency preparedness information at the Valley Veterans’ Club during Valley’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in August 2014.
Please remember to look for the preparedness articles throughout the year and prepare. When a real disaster occurs, there will not be enough responders to help everyone quickly enough. Preparation can help prevent loss of life, loss of property, and economic loss.
If you would like more information about Academy, please check out the website and blog at or send an email to

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