20 November 2023

It started by playing and talking about play and learning, the project "P.E.R. Play Explore Research" supported by The LEGO Foundation with FRC

Involved more than 750 adults and children in two days
A world tour that will touch 7 countries

It started by playing and talking about play and learning in Reggio Emilia, the international project PER Play, Explore, Research by the Reggio Children's Foundation, made possible by The LEGO Foundation, as a funding entity, started from Italy with a double event at the Loris Malaguzzi International Center in Reggio Emilia on November 16 and 17: an international conference and several workshops involving more than 750 people, including girls, boys and adults.

PER Play Explore Research is a world tour to promote the relationship between the right to play and the right to learning for all, along with the right to quality education. Children are the main beneficiaries of the PER project, aimed at countering educational poverty by engaging teachers, educators, researchers, parents, and policy makers in the vision of childhood not as an age of fragility, but of many potentials and rights from birth. Over thirty months, the project will be in Europe, South America, North America, Africa, Oceania and Asia with specific declinations and experiences to be developed over time, beginning with presentation conferences and workshops.

On Thursday, November 16, the PER project kicked off with a presentation coordinated by Eugenio Bruno, journalist for Sole 24 Ore, at which Luca Vecchi, mayor of Reggio Emilia and president of Anci Emilia-Romagna, Carla Rinaldi, president of Reggio Children Foundation, Sidsel Marie Kristensen, ceo of The LEGO Foundation, Vanna Iori, Istituto Toniolo - Università Cattolica di Milano, and Mitchel Resnick, professor of Learning Research at MIT Media Lab in Boston and director of the Lifelong Kindergarten team, spoke. In attendance was Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, third generation of the family that founded LEGO. The first PER workshop was held on Friday, November 17, with the national launch of the new creative mobile programming app aimed at children, OctoStudio, by Professor Mitchel Resnick and Lifelong Kindergarten.

A magical and playful beginning

The conference was opened by a performance by Alessandro Maida, circus actor and co-founder of the Magda Clan Circo and CirqueCentrique companies, who magically walked on a large sphere, leaving the audience spellbound. At the end, a brief greeting, reminding that "the game is also about rules and commitment."

Carla Rinaldi, president Reggio Children Foundation: "To act for education and play, is to act for peace."

Reggio Children Foundation President Carla Rinaldi presented the project with The LEGO Foundation, "It was born in the wake of deep research on playing well, as the word LEGO says, and the many stages of the relationship with Reggio Emilia. PER is a research and sharing project on the relationship between play and learning that will be developed around the world with our network of international partners."

"We all questioned whether it was possible, in these tragic days for the world, to talk about play, which is pleasure, fun, life, when childhood is denied in more than 50 countries in conflict around the world. - said Rinaldi - Many children have been deprived of the right not only to play, but to live. This human loss is a pain, a mourning, we mourn. It may seem utopian today to talk about creative learning, play and education, but because of this, we are obliged to act and claim childhood rights to play, learning, emotional life, quality education, go beyond just compassion. To act for education and play is to act for peace. To act for joyful, passionate education that digs into each child's motivations to better prepare for his or her future. It is to embrace this necessary dimension that we initiate with The LEGO Foundation a project that together we have strongly desired and that we inaugurate with a major player in creative learning, MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten."

Luca Vecchi, mayor of Reggio Emilia: "Friendship strengthened with LEGO Foundation and MIT"

The mayor of Reggio Emilia and president of Anci Emilia-Romagna, Luca Vecchi, said, "Reggio Emilia's international relations of friendship and collaboration with The LEGO Foundation and the MIT Media Lab in Boston are strengthened and confirmed with Project PER and the national launch of the OctoStudio app, thanks to the involvement promoted by the Reggio Children Foundation and its president Carla Rinaldi. Quality education for children, solidarity, and research, central to the Reggio experience, are married, thanks to Project PER, with another important characteristic, creativity. We see it in the history of work and knowledge that we encounter at the Innovation Park, the Loris Malaguzzi International Center and will see at the former Caffarri, which will be the incubator of the project supported by The LEGO Foundation. Central is, from Reggio Emilia, the possibility to promote and spread the right to quality education for all and everyone, and to be able to be present even in the peripheries of the earth."

Sidsel Marie Kristensen, CEO of The LEGO Foundation: "Putting children at the center."

"We know that learning through play contributes to the fundamental and holistic development of children from an early age, which is why it's important for us to put children at the center of everything we do with our partners," said Sidsel Marie Kristensen, CEO of The LEGO Foundation. "The Play, Explore Research project will be a powerful platform to bring together educators, researchers and policymakers to advance learning through play for children globally. What is even more exciting is that the project will also engage children and their families in contributing to research and advocacy on learning through play. Children will engage in a truly unique environment that strengthens peer relationships, interactive learning, passion and motivation, helping them develop essential life skills and knowledge to face the future. This innovative approach gives them a voice and opportunity to experience, learn and grow, and this while we, the adults, learn from them."

Octostudio National Preview and Workshop

On Friday, November 17, the second day of the PER project, at the Loris Malaguzzi International Center, Professor Resnick and the Lifelong Kindergarten research team launched for Italy from Reggio Emilia the new OctoStudio programming app that offers a new creative learning experience on mobile devices through play. After the presentation of the app's features, attended by Rupal Jain and Carmelo Presticce of Lifelong Kindergarten, the audience of teachers, educators and researchers of various ages began experimenting with the app in small groups with the collaboration of experts, doctoral students and atelierists from Reggio Children Foundation and Pause-Atelier dei Sapori, following different suggestions, from food and taste to architectural space, plant environment and sound exploration.

Released on October 24, OctoStudio builds on decades of research by the MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten group on technology and creative learning. After spawning the Scratch platform, now the new mobile device app. "Scratch has engaged millions of children, but it has a limitation," Resnick said, "It is used on the computer, and there are many children in the world who don't have a computer or a wi-fi connection, whereas almost all of them have a mobile phone. So they also get access to the ability to program creatively."

OctoStudio was therefore designed specifically for children and to reach families in communities where access to computers and to the Internet is limited, but cell phones are widespread. The design process involved educators in Brazil, Chile, India, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, and Uganda.

Cell phones can thus be used creatively, as opposed to the passive use that is very common among children and young people, who spend hours scrolling through videos and social networks. With OctoStudio, children can create projects with blocks of code, take photos and record sounds, associate physical movements, share projects with friends and family, and learn computational and problem solving skills.It is in 25 languages so far and has introduced more than 200 new emoticons to better represent children's differences in culture and preferences. It is free, requires no network connection or data costs, collects no personal data, and does not track people who use it.

Research within the PER project

Research on the relationship between play and learning will be carried out in the PER project by following on the ground the development of experiences that will be launched around the world, with the support of The LEGO Foundation together with some of the most significant projects of the Reggio Children Foundation. These include the PhD in Reggio Childhood Studies, by the Reggio Children Foundation and Desu-Unimore, with a scholarship dedicated to the theme of play and learning. Also involved are the project scintilla-play and learning in the digita age on play and learning in the digital age, carried out by the Reggio Children Foundation with The LEGO Foundation, and the project on education and sustainability Remida-Center for Creative Recycling, which will be housed in the space undergoing recovery and redevelopment formerly "Caffarri" in Reggio Emilia, which will be set up with the contribution of The LEGO Foundation. As a value reference and for networking, the PER project is inspired by the charter on quality education in response to the educational emergency "Quality Education, a Global Challenge," launched by Reggio Children Foundation in 2022 after the pandemic.

Last modified: 17 January 2024

Keep updated on events and news from Fondazione Reggio Children

Sign up to the newsletter
Sign up to the newsletter