APS Column: STEAM Days at IJ Holton Intermediate School

Published 5:43 pm Friday, December 1, 2023

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By Kane Malo

IJ Holton Intermediate School Assistant Principal

Something magical happens at IJ Holton Intermediate School on Fridays. Attendance for both staff and students goes up and students are especially excited to be at school, demonstrated by positive behaviors. How could this happen? One might think that students would be getting eager and more rambunctious for the weekend. While this might generally be the case, here at IJ Holton, we have something that the students and staff look forward to – STEAM Day.

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On Fridays, our staff and students participate in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) classes. Teachers plan engaging activities that meet one of the STEAM categories and offer them to the students, with teachers sharing their unique talents and interests. Students get to choose four different activities to participate in each year. The activities range from cooking to quilting, bridge building to learning probability using card games, learning to code, building a website, playing chess, and even traveling to Mars. There are so many things that captivate the attention of our students on Fridays.

On STEAM Days, students go to all their regular classes (Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Exploratories), but each class is shortened by five minutes. This allows us to set aside 55 minutes in our day where everyone gets to participate in a STEAM class.

The enthusiasm that students have when going to their STEAM classes is inspiring and helps bring the learning process full circle. The students are full of curiosity and the teachers are excited to share about things they have an interest or passion for. There is a lot of excitement around both teaching and learning.

Outside of the STEAM Day Units, our students have other opportunities to engage in STEAM learning. Students can take classes like Automation and Robotics, Medical Detectives, Green Architecture, Design and Modeling, and Digital and Visual Arts. These classes move kids to think differently while using creativity and problem-solving skills.   

We also have a relationship with The Hormel Institute. Our sixth grade Medical Detectives class goes to the Hormel Institute to learn and be mentored for two hours by the Hormel Institute staff. This differs from our Young Scientist program, where students apply to be in the program. In the Young Scientists program, students work alongside the scientists at the Institute. Our students go to The Hormel Institute for three hours six times a year to have this awesome hands-on opportunity,

Since being built in 2013, IJ Holton Intermediate School has been touted throughout the state for its design and STEAM programming. We will continue building a solid STEAM program that excites our staff and students. At IJ Holton, we will continue to offer experiences that will introduce students to new ideas that connect them to the many different Packer Pathways, preparing them for their future here in Austin and beyond.