A 2011 study (DOI:10.1016/j.system.2011.01.009) shows that intrinsic motivation for learning generally declines in participating students from third to sixth grade. Another paper (DOI:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.08.287) shows that rewards are not harmful, but that there is some relationship between external motivators and task oriented motivation. Rewards are viewed as primarily beneficial, rather than constraining, to human freedom and independence. Some research has shown that the dichotomy between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is unnecessary, even unacceptable.

What it does

This gave us an idea to make learning more fun and playful for elementary school students to increase motivation through gamification concepts: Learn City, a virtual city representing a school class. Each student can create his own character. Customization is an important gamification concept, especially for children. Each school subject that the teachers have set gets its own building. In these buildings there are regular lessons, tasks and tests to get experience points or an in-game currency. This, in turn, can be invested in items, such as clothes to customize the character as desired and, above all, furniture for your own apartment. In the apartment building, all the students' apartments can be found and everyone can visit and admire each other's furniture. We tried to pick up as many gamification concepts as possible and integrate them in a natural way into Learn City. In doing so, we followed the list provided by ( We used the following concepts:

Theme → The class is a virtual city with buildings for subjects. Every student has their own apartment. Personalization + Virtual Economy + Investment + Collect & Trade + Gifting / Sharing → Own Avatars + an in-game currency which you earn by doing tests successfully etc. to buy clothes, vehicles and furniture to improve your own apartment. Items can be traded and gifted to friends. Progress / Feedback → The students get EXP for doing tests. Loss Aversion + Consequences → The students have to reach certain levels/progress every week. The students lose money/EXP if they don’t. Curiosity / Mystery Box → If the students finish a chapter, a mystery box will appear. They can win money or items. Time Pressure → Final Tests (at the end of a chapter) have countdowns Scarcity → Some items are very rare/expensive. Random Rewards → For every day a student enter the game he will get a random reward Leaderboards / Ladders + Badges / Achievements → Leaderboards for every subject + overall. Badges if a student is the best in a week or completes a test/task very well (Gold for 90%, silver for 80%, bronze for 70%) Meaning / Purpose → Semester goal for the whole class. If the whole class reaches (all levels added together) a certain level in the semester, they will go eating ice cream at the end of the semester

How we built it

We built the app with kaboom.js in Javascript using json as our database. The learning room was built with Javascript, HTML, CSS and bootstrap.

Challenges we ran into

Our team is from 3 different continents (America, Europa and Asia), so planning the meetings and the schedule (who does what when) was a challenge. Also we couldn't quite finish our app as we wished to as time was running down quickly.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud that we could implement all the gamification elements in a natural way into an enjoyable city environment. Also it was really an awesome experience to work in an international team like that.

What we learned

As this was for all of us our first hackathon, we learned quite a lot of stuff. First of all we learned what an important part gamification is in apps, websites and our everyday life. We learned that planning is a crucial part, that every team has to have a project manager that knows what everyone is up to and can distribute the exercises to the team mates. Communication is key.

What's next for Learn City

The next steps are adding the virtual city where the students can around and move to the subject buildings and enter the correspondary subject platform where they can do the execises. Also it's impotant to connect all our components so that the app works flawlessly.

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