With the museum’s launch, Hasten Hebrew Academy students ushered attending guests into what used to simply be a multipurpose room. The space where dull carpet once housed aging prayer books and plastic chairs was now transformed into an actual, semi-professional museum.
Every single exhibit throughout the expansive three rooms was interactive. Patrons could assume a character in a VR environment to tour Holocaust information, count calories of custom prison meals using props, act in front of a green screen to capture the feel of Jews under discrimination, or even stand inside of a mock transportation train and feel the vibrations underneath their feet. Traditional artifacts of historical note were also available under glass case inspection, as is standard for most other museums.
I traversed the museum with butterflies in my stomach–possibly not my most appropriate reaction inside of a museum as grim as one representing the Holocaust, but I just couldn’t help it. This was my school. My school! And it had managed to achieve something so amazing, so incredible, in just a single academic year’s span, all at the imagination of children and the open minds of the teachers.
The design thinking curriculum at HHAI is not stopping with this school year’s conclusion. The teachers have emphasized that they want this museum to change with the times as if it really were living and breathing. When new technology comes into fruition, HHAI wants to use design thinking to incorporate it. The school wants the students to keep creating, keep ideating, and keep thinking. The academy recognizes that design thinking is the future, and it is arming its students to go to battle.
Next year, a small team made up of myself and a handful of other Ball State students will be in close contact with The Hasten Hebrew Academy as we collaborate over the next academic year. I am honored to be a Ball State graduate student and HHAI alumni. I’m honored that my gratitude goes full circle and I can give back to a school that prepared me for life so well–even if design thinking wasn’t as familiar of a concept back then. (THE END)