Luleå University of Technology and Luleå Municipality's project for Active school transport aims to increase the number of pupils getting to and from school in a way that promotes physical activity, such as cycling or walking.
Several primary schools in the municipality of Luleå have participated in the project, where Luleå University of Technology's researchers successfully made the children to use active school transport. The part of the project that has been carried out at Ormbergsskolan has focused on active transport in the winter.
Increase winter cycling in Sweden
On Wednesday, the project was appointed as winner of Sweden's innovation agency Vinnova's competition Cykel Plus Minus, which aims to increase winter cycling throughout the country.
– It was a great surprise that we won! We have learned a lot from the children who participated in the project. A major success factor is that the children's enthusiasm overcame the parents' doubts to allow their children to use active school transport in winter. It was -31 degreees at the start of the project in February, but despite hard weather conditions, 85 percent of the students used active school transport during the project, says Anna-Karin Lindqvist, who together with Stina Rutberg, Teemu Laine and Håkan Wallin are the researchers from Luleå University of Technology involved in the project.
Active school transport can be rewarded by up to 1 million SEK. The winners also become ambassador for innovation and for Sweden, and have the opportunity to represent Sweden at international conferences.
Luleå University of Technology and Luleå Municipality will now work on developing a game for active school transport based on students' own ideas.
– We will meet Vinnova to discuss how we can further develop the innovation. We have already created a model for implementing active school transport in the school environment, as well as a prototype for a digital game based on students' ideas. Funds from Vinnova can enable a continued development of the game and provides an opportunity to spread the idea to many more schools in Sweden, says Anna-Karin Lindkvist.
Two key factors for the researchers to motivate the children – and their parents – to cycle even in severe cold winter is empowerment and gamification.
Empowerment is that an individual should feel that he/she has the power over their own situation, their tasks and their environment. Gamification is the use of game design to reinforce behaviors other than in games.