FUSE Design Challenge Winners from ETHS Visit Washington, D.C.

FUSE Design Challenge Winners from ETHS Visit Washington, D.C.


Five Evanston Township High School students who won a hip-hop design challenge traveled to Washington, D.C., for a day of design workshops and a performance by hip-hop artist Nas. The design challenge was offered online by ARTSEDGE, the Kennedy Center’s arts education program, in cooperation with Northwestern University’s FUSE program and the Chicago-based Digital Youth Network.

The challenge invited all Chicago and Evanston teens ages 15 to 19 to call upon their own artistic voice to design T-shirts or 3-D printed jewelry inspired by the five elements of hip-hop culture: graffiti, DJ-ing, rap, breakdancing and knowledge. 

The involvement of Evanston students grew out of the Northwestern University partnership with Evanston Township High School, coordinated by Kristen Perkins of SESP, who helped to promote the challenge with teachers and students.

FUSE is an informal education program that engages youth in hands-on, interest-driven challenges in science, technology, engineering, arts/design and mathematics (STEAM). FUSE challenges are designed to leverage the interests of young people to inspire them to pursue new STEAM-related interests and skills. FUSE was developed by School of Education and Social Policy professors Kemi Jona and Reed Stevens and is offered at more than 20 school and library locations in the greater Chicago area, reaching more than 1,500 youth.

The five Evanston students who visited Washington March 29 and 30 went to the Kennedy Center for workshops on graffiti design and the critical theory of hip-hop, as well as a live performance by the hip-hop artist Nas, celebrating the 20th anniversary of his album, Illmatic. In addition, the students toured Washington monuments and visited the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. 


“This challenge provided young people with an opportunity to showcase their interests and talents. ... Pursuing your interests can lead to inspiring experiences,” says Maggie Waldron, director of the FUSE program for Northwestern University. For the five winners, “traveling to DC, working with the Kennedy Center’s teaching artists, and seeing Nas perform was a transformative experience,” she notes.

This design challenge marks the first time that FUSE has partnered with ARTSEDGE. FUSE has previously collaborated with the Digital Youth Network on STEAM Studio, a weeklong design workshop for Chicago youth at the Chicago Cultural Center. 

As a follow-up to the hip-hop design challenge, ARTSEDGE, FUSE, and Digital Youth Network recently announced a second design challenge aligned with the upcoming 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records. This opportunity is open to teens ages 15-19 in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. Teens are challenged to design a graphic T-shirt, photography or 3-D printed jewelry in the aesthetic of the Blue Note label. Two students from each city will be selected for a trip to the Kennedy Center on May 10.

The winning hip-hop inspired designs may be viewed here.

By Marilyn Sherman and Maggie Waldron
Last Modified: 3/7/17