Brigid Bergin, Reporter
Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
The city wants innovative technology developers to help close the achievement gap for middle school math students. To get the creative juices flowing, the city has launched the "Gap App" contest inviting developers to work with students and teachers to submit ideas for games and programs aimed at boosting student achievement in math.
"Mathematics is the language of the world," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the contest launch at the East Bronx Academy for the Future on Monday. "You might not think of it as a language, but if you don't speak it, you really are at a very big disadvantage."
The Mayor said students in this country continue to fall further behind when it comes to science and math.
"Our future really does have a big cloud that we're approaching and we just have to do something about this."
Developers can begin submitting ideas online Monday through April 10, 2013. Winners will be selected in June and are eligible to receive up to $104, 000 including up to $50,000 in cash. Every submission will be considered for a school-based pilot, regardless of whether or not it's selected as a winner.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott stressed the contest was about engaging students, "Students nowadays are really interested in technology. I think this is the perfect marriage for that to happen."
The consulting firm IDEO will be working with the city on this program to help identify learning challenges that are happening in the classroom and how can the tech sector help the city tackle those issues. That means spending time in classrooms with teachers and students. IDEO partner Duane Bray said the firm is excited to see what happens as developers start to bring solutions into the schools.
"It's not just an opportunity to drop solutions into the classroom but to bring early prototypes in that can be improved by direct collaboration with students and teachers in the classrooms everyday," Bray said.