For the rest of the semester, a classmate and I spent the next dozen weeks planning out a different element of our dream Holocaust museum, intending to provide a useful guideline The Hasten Hebrew Academy could utilize. We put every last detail down on paper, from the exhibits to construction to marketing to even a building schedule. With the wrap up of the semester came the end up of our project. We got our A grades. But whereas our other classmates put their class projects on the shelf, we weren’t done. HHAI was still carrying this museum into fruition.
While my classmate and I had been constructing a hypothetical transmedia museum experience, the academy was going forth with their plans full-throttle, structuring a human-centered design curriculum for its fifth through eighth-grade students.
HHAI’s design thinking journey began with a field trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Indiana State Museum, where the children were able to learn about the impact not only museums can make, but also the effect that they as children can demonstrate. Classroom curriculum adjusted to incorporate the museum where needed. For example, in math class, students measured the space of the former museum location in comparison to the new space, to determine how much surface area they had to work with.
The children’s prototyping phase is what I found particularly fascinating because I was actually present to witness the students prototypes. It was nothing far from astonishing, studying how children approached design thinking. Teaching fully-developed adults about the process is challenging enough. A child’s mind is guided by a whole different set of rules. By definition, children are imaginative. Ideation is a process they might go through daily, their heads tossing and turning with endless creative possibilities over the smallest parts of their daily lives. If anything, design thinking was made for children, because children are essentially idea factories.
I was blown away at not only the creativity demonstrated in the prototype mock-ups but also the accuracy when it came to the design thinking process. All this time I’d been holed up in the EMDD lab at Ball State, toiling away on my suggestions for a transmedia Holocaust museum, when just an hour’s drive away teachers were educating children on how to think creatively and innovatively.
I watched that session unfold as a proud alumnus.
As any apt flowing design thinking project goes, the children didn’t stop at their prototypes. On May 5, 2019, The Hasten Hebrew Academy unveiled its Holocaust museum grand re-opening under the guise of a living, breathing memory. (To Be Continued…)