Back in March 2018, young people aged 19 and under were invited to participate in this creative competition to build a futuristic world from materials of their choice. Fast forward to September, and seven of them went to Linz, Austria, to show their work and attend the prestigious Ars Electronica Festival.

It started with an open call for projects under Valletta 2018, with the theme ‘Create Your World,’ organised in cooperation with the Esplora Interactive Science Centre. Participants could submit work of any shape, including digital art, mechanics, technology, music, social projects, and even innovative futuristic ideas about the world we live in. Nicholas Conrad won the Grand Prize of €2000 with his creation, ‘Musical Weather Station’, while Zack Ciappara’s ‘Freehour’ App, and Mia Gauci and Amy Portelli’s ‘Astrobot’ won them both a Distinction prize. Mia Gauci and Amy Portelli were also awarded the special Esplora Under 14 prize for their work.  Charlotte Formosa and Cara Borg Aquilina both won the Merit prize with their respective projects ‘Music in the Capital’ and ‘Toolbox for Peace’. The youngest winner was Thiago Jo Said, who won the ‘Esplora Under 10’ Award with his creation, ‘Fighting in the Arena’.

The winners in Linz

The seven young Maltese winners spent four days in Linz, where, in addition to the Ars Electronica Festival, they could explore parts of the city, meet similar competition’s winners from Austria, interact with the projects on display, and speak about their own creations. The ‘Grand Prize’ and the two ‘Distinction’ prize winners’ projects were exhibited at the Ars Electronica Festival as part of the special section dedicated to youths. During the Award Ceremony on the 7th September, an impressive montage of Austrian Under 19 projects and winners were celebrated including the young group from Malta who were presented as the first winners of the Maltese edition of this prestigious competition.

Next, the work of these high-achievers will be on display at the Esplora Interactive Science Centre in November 2018.  Collaboration between Valletta 2018, Ars Electronica and Esplora Interactive Science Centre started during the Maltese Presidency of the European Council in 2017. For science-minded youths, Esplora Interactive Science Centre still has an open competition running.