The CURIO Project official launch has taken place at the University of Malta Valletta Campus. The three-year project, described as ‘A Teaching Toolkit for Fostering Scientific Curiosity,’ is a strategic partnership action funded under the ERASMUS+ programme.
The CURIO Project team is composed of the Institute of Digital Games – University of Malta, PlaceHolder Interactive (Malta), University of Venice (Italy), University of Skövde (Sweden), and The Edward de Bono institute – University of Malta.
The University of Malta said in a statement that the project aims to engage students and stimulate curiosity in scientific topics at the elementary and early secondary school level.
Teachers and students, through the CURIO toolkit will be allowed to author scenarios that can then be played in a gamified, virtual environment.
During the launch event, the plan of action for the upcoming three years was presented. It focused on informing the stakeholders and future users of the toolkit, highlighting technical innovation, new pedagogical opportunities, and the various social benefits that are envisaged.
Referring to the project, Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Education and Employment, said that capturing a young person’s focus and attention is getting more difficult due to an overindulged digital consumption.
“This will continue to be so as more technology is scientifically refined, analytical and tailor-made to capture one’s attention. Which is why it is crucial that the educational experience understands this reality before us,” said the Minister.
He added that, “we have to make sure the experience is more engaging, including through gamification, and to a certain extent we’re already seeing this technology being put to good use, through some very popular language learning and numeracy applications, to achieve this aim.”
University of Malta Pro-Rector, Prof. Godfrey Baldacchino, said he was delighted to witness the launch of this exciting project.
“This initiative reminds us of how educators need to sow curiosity and creativity in the minds and hearts of students. I look forward to seeing a strong take-up of CURIO in our education system,” he said.
Dr Stefano Gualeni from the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta, and Coordinator of the project, gave a general outline of CURIO, including the partners, expected outputs and deadlines.
“It might help to think of it as an educational video game that can be used during class activities and even at home,” he said. “And imagine that – beyond the video game – there are tools which easily empower teachers to create new contents and customise existing contents to make class work interactive, fun, and cooperative.”
Marcello Gómez Maureira from Placeholder Interactive presented an insight into the design, the technical challenges, and the research relevance of CURIO.
“Through CURIO we want to provide a safe environment for experimentation – some of which might not even be possible without the use of an interactive environment.”
Prof. Sandra Dingli from the Edward De Bono Institute, University of Malta, spoke of unleashing creative potential to foster scientific curiosity.
“Today’s students are digital natives, born into the internet age with easy access to devices such as mobile phones and tablets on which they can access multiplayer online games and virtual worlds. They are raised in an environment where active participation through online digital technology is a central part of their lives and where they encounter motivating and exciting online challenges on a daily basis.”