I've got an idea for a curation system that is self-sustaining and largely automated and makes use of tokenomics. I've actually coded most of it and worked it out, but haven't implemented it for various reasons. But this is something your students could undertake. They don't have to worry about the actual coding, just outline the process of how it would be done.
Here's a quick and dirty version of my idea. They can run with it if they want.
Users in a community (or not; could just be the general hive community) nominate posts for curation. A bot collates all these nominations and presents them on a website for community curators to vote on. Nominating posts and voting transfers an amount of a novel token. Curators, voters, and winners of the curation voting (the person who made the post), all get awarded a certain amount of the token. Basically it's a curation competition to nominate the best content. The main curation account does a daily, weekly and monthly(?) post with the curation winners. Profits from those posts go into buying back the tokens from the voters/curators/winners.
While that sounds pretty simple, my idea was way more complex and intricate (I've actually just looked at my notes where I schemed it all out, and I can't understand it 😂 - this was from back in the Steem days). So there's certainly room for them to make it a bigger undertaking.