This week, HRSA, The Health Resources and Services Administration, hosted their Bridging the Word Gap Challenge Demo Day! Bridging the Word Gap Challenge is a 3 phase challenge to find and develop innovative tech-based solutions to the word gap. During Phase 1, HRSA awarded 10 winners a $10,000 cash prize to begin creating prototypes of their ideas or seek out user testing and feedback. The innovations ranged from wearable devices that count and track how many words a child hears in a day, to apps that provide video modeling on language-rich adult-child interactions, to an app that gives you place-based specific language prompts so that you can speak with your child about groceries in the grocery store or gross-motor skills in the playground. On Thursday, the winners gathered in Washington DC to demo their innovations and 5 winners were selected to proceed on to the final phase.
NHSA has been involved with Bridging the Word Gap Challenge since its inception. Yasmina Vinci has served as an advisor to the Starling team, a wearable device that counts the number of words a child hears in real-time, with data accessible via a web dashboard. Both parents and home visitors will be able to access this data in aims of creating and maintaining positive behavior change. Starling is just one example of how technology can help solve even some of our most complicated social problems. NHSA is very proud of the Starling team for being one of the 5 teams selected to proceed onto Phase 3.
Moving forward, the 5 winners will test their proposed interventions on a larger scale. With the help of Challenge organizers each intervention will be matched with an appropriate community or program. This testing will show the scalability of the intervention at low-cost, the feasibility of implementation, and the impact on the intended outcomes. We’re excited to stay tuned to see the large scale impact of these high quality interventions.
NHSA commends HRSA for using innovative challenge competitions to spur action among the early childhood field for the purpose of social good and hope to see more of these competitions occurring throughout the community.
Learn more about NHSA’s very own challenge competition, the Head Start Hackathon.