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By Judy Chiss
Part 2 of a Series
Evanston Township High School seniors Angel Cruz, Noam Hasak-Lowy, and Indira Abraham are making the best of the Pandemic’s “new normal.” They have stayed plugged into the high school’s remote learning, have goals for the future, have pursued their creative passions, and are grateful for their mentors and peer support along the way.
Noam Hasak-Lowy has an adventurous spirit, big ideas, and an urge to create.
For ETHS senior Noam Hasak-Lowy, selecting Senior Studies as a replacement for her English and History requirements, was an easy decision. As someone with a strong creative bent, she knew she’d like being able to design her own independent learning project. She also knew she’d like the interdisciplinary and experiential approach to learning that Senior Studies provides. And also, no small thing, she knew she needed something interesting and challenging to ”stay sane and keep busy” during this very unsettling pandemic time.
“I was feeling somewhat unable to focus, maybe distracted,” Noam said about this disquieting time of quarantining, remote learning, and isolation. “I hoped Senior Studies would be an anchor to keep me interested and focused again.” Her instincts were good, and they ultimately led down new creative paths and outcomes. Senior Studies coincided for her with the college application process, and the search for the right college inadvertently led to Noam’s quite unique Senior Studies independent self-designed project.
“Since I’ve been a pretty young kid I’ve liked to sew,” she said. “I always made my Halloween costumes and was into fashion design. I thought fashion design would be my college major and I’d try to go to one of the well-known fashion design schools for college.” However, thinking about design in a broader way than just fashion began to interest her and expanded her college search. Her online searching led her to a well-regarded design school in the Netherlands, a school taking an interdisciplinary approach to design and linking design to real world issues.
Noam was intrigued and found herself shaping her Senior Studies independent project around two problem-solving prompts in the design school’s college application form:
#1) Find a new way to measure social distancing.
#2) Create a sleeping hut and spend a night outside in it. Then edit your design to correct weaknesses in it.
Noam was hooked on the challenges. Problem #1 (measuring social distancing in a new way) led to her somewhat familiar territory, a fashion accessory. She made a handsome leather belt with a small pouch-like compartment housing a laser emitting 6-feet-long beams that in any given location could measure safe social distancing.
Problem #2 (creating a well-functioning and tested outdoor sleeping hut) was a more taxing challenge, especially when she decided to design it to provide both a comfortable sleeping and storage solution for people who are homeless. She used free online software, SketchUp, to create the drawings for her original idea of a hybrid fold-up bed and rolling dolly-like storage cart.
To build it, she had to learn how to solder and weld. Generous, talented, and accommodating neighbors shared their skills and equipment with Noam so that ultimately her drawings could be realized in a functional piece of equipment. Noam hopes the flexible bed/cart might possibly become a real solution for people who find themselves homeless. She plans to share her idea with people at Connections for the Homeless and give the hybrid bed to someone who can make use of it.
Noam’s project has had multiple good outcomes. Dave Allen, her Senior Studies teacher, congratulated her and told her he was proud of her and what she’d taken on and accomplished. And the Design Academy in the Netherlands was pretty smitten with her recent application presentation.