Inspiration

One of the most prevalent problems we've found with students during this time of online learning is finding the motivation and drive to get work done. A digital solution that's becoming more prevalent at the moment is applications that motivate concentration and focus. However, the problem with these apps is the user's self discipline and motivation to utilize them. The user must take it upon themselves to operate it for its intended purposes. There are also too many ways to cheat these apps (such as leaving the app running while watching videos on another device). We thought of making something that would motivate students through incentive by creating a software extension that can be added to a browser, kind of like a sort of game where you gain points based on how well you perform grade wise as well as work ethic. At the end of each quarter, a winner is chosen by who has the most points. Doing so, we create another form of motivation for the students by offering genuine prizes (Amazon gift cards, etc.), this being one of the lacking capabilities of most concentration apps. Our point system works off of assignment grades, completion time, as well as measuring if the student procrastinated on the task. This initiates for better work ethic and habits as well. The program is meant to coincide with education platforms (Google Classroom, Canvas, Edmodo) where teachers upload the links to the assignments. From there we would be able to access information (through an API) being the due date/time and the final grade on the assignment. The teacher can thus manually upload the expected time duration for said assignment to our application. With this information, we compute points and a rank. This program would be advertised to schools as a way to motivate their students and something easy that can be simply added to the platforms/sites they used previously, providing easy access and use. We emphasize that our software is completely optional to students. We wish not to create more stress or pressure for them, rather it's just something additional one could add to their work routine for the possibility to gain a bit of encouragement. :)

What it does

Users/students begin by registering or logging into the extension where their own account with their information is stored. Students will input when they begin working on the assignment on the extension. Our application records what time they begin and the time they finish. When pressing the “start assignment” button, their time stamp is documented when they begin, a time stamp is also recorded when they turn in the assignment. Our program takes the amount of time they spent working versus. the expected duration, their grade, and how early they submitted the assignment in relationship to the due time. With this data, we compute how many points they'd receive in a 100-point scale per section and produce an average of total points. From there, students can accumulate points per assignment. If we had more time to finish the program, the student would be placed into a pool with their peers. They are then put into a ranking system where the more points a student has, the higher the rank they sustain.

How I built it

Our program is written entirely in Java, the interface being created through GUI's.

Challenges I ran into

Originally we had planned to do the backend of our program in Java and the frontend in JavaScript, CSS and HTML. However when we began to realize we didn't know how to make both systems work together, we had to find out another way to create an interface. After asking for some advice, we figured out we could learn to use GUI's. Having no experience with GUI's prior to this was definitely rough considering we needed them for our program to be interactive, but through lots of articles and YouTube searches, we were able to produce as much as we could to the best of our abilities.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Implementing GUI's with this program being our first time learning/using them was a pretty major accomplishment. To be honest, the program kind of felt like a lost hope when we found out that our best bet was relying on GUI's considering none of us had any prior knowledge or learned it. However, I'm extremely proud of my team for pushing through all the trial and error and finishing with our final product. There were a lot of features we weren't able to add that we had planned originally, but I believe we were still able to achieve a lot.

What I learned

Hackathons are extremely fun! It was stressful at times, especially when we couldn't figure out why the code was working, but having the support of my teammates really made the experience so much more enjoyable. There were times we felt we might as well just give up. Yet with the hard work and effort of my team, we were able to complete a demo in the end of what we hope to produce in a full fledged application one day. There's a lot you can accomplish in a short amount of time with coding! It's really cool to see the final product of our first full functioning application/program. Considering how much time we had, it felt like we accomplished a lot. You can learn a lot of coding in a short amount of time as well! Majority of my team members and I were either rusty in writing in Java or were very new to it, so being that we were able to create a full functioning program is amazing.

What's next for STARS: Students Train Achieve Reward System

Honestly I believe it's a system that can help many students out there today. We would love to continue to develop it as time goes on. Our coding abilities and knowledge are fairly on a beginner level. However if we were to continue learning as well as how to really enhance the program, it can fully live up to our concept and hopes for it! Now more than ever have I heard complaints about students not being able to find it within themselves to complete school or homework, but I know at the very least had this system be a real thing, it'd be motivating a fair majority of those same students. We understand that school/homework's value should be seen as an important part of our education. Though by simply adding a small incentive, you're able to garner a lot of motivation and drive within students. In hopes to motivate students to grow a healthier and better work ethic, we expect in the future that this is something either us or others will be able to market to schools!

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