The official launch of Ariana’s Magical Journal on light took place on 14 April at 14:00 where Hon. Justyne Caruana, Minister of Education praised the innovative way of how technology modernises the teaching of science as well as equipping educators with the right tools to facilitate this experience.
This was followed by a short address by the University of Malta's Pro-rector of Academic Affairs, Professor Joseph Cacciottolo, highlighting the importance of outreach in encouraging students to take up STEM careers.
Following these brief addresses Prof. André Xuereb, Head of the Department of Physics and Maltese lead of HOT talked about the importance of bringing research closer to society, in particular the educational sector, through developing such apps.
A demonstration of the app, its educational content, and usability was held during the event by science communicator, educator, and lecturer Ms Danielle Martine Farrugia.
A very powerful learning mode is discovery learning, where children develop new knowledge about the world by doing rather than by being told. As infants, we learn about gravity simply by dropping things; as we grow older, however, discovery learning gets side-lined by other forms of learning.
In this app students solve a set of puzzles as they learn about refraction, reflection, the colours of the rainbow, lenses, and so much more by experimenting in a virtual world. This app was developed by the Hybrid Optomechanical Technologies (HOT) consortium and was tested thoroughly with primary school children and teachers in Malta. This has resulted in an app that will serve the needs of teachers, enhance the learning experience for school children, and help modernise the teaching of science in primary schools. A handbook has been designed for teachers to use the app in class.
Danielle Martine Farrugia said “The app ‘Ariana’s magical journal on light’ aims to bridge the gap between the formal and informal/non-formal sector by connecting various stakeholders in the educational sector and the research community. This will further encourage young children to be excited and curious about science encouraging uptake of STEM careers.”