The 21-Tech initiative has allowed me as a Discovery Guide to push myself further on how much information I can process and share with each visitor I encounter.- Odis Garrett, Children’s Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech is a bridge between our museum guides and the visitors in that it creates connections between educational concepts and the real world.- Shawn Waxali, Children’s Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech has helped Discovery Guides engage visitors by extending their experience through the apps and applying it to the exhibits.- Ian Tibby, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech is a way of ‘hiding the vegetables in the fruit’ where the kids do not realize they are learning, but instead having fun and being fed knowledge that intrigues their minds.- Lauren Bell, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech provides a new outlet for our Discovery Guides to interact with the visitors in a way that further enhances their experience and makes the visit overall extra enjoyable.- Sylvia Garcia, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide

Bridging Documents connect the app and exhibit

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Bridging Documents have become the linchpin in our 21-Tech Facilitation Training Program at the Children’s Museum of Houston.  (example: CMH_21-Tech_Ricochet_BridgingDoc)

When the 21-Tech project really geared up in April 2011, we at the Children’s Museum of Houston conducted a lot of prototyping with various apps and other resources with our floor facilitation staff, Discovery Guides. Some days the Discovery Guides were given anywhere from 3-10 apps, several websites, articles from Simplepedia, videos, photos and multimedia presentations to use as facilitation tools. Our time table allowed for about 15 minutes of discussion of the exhibit content, 15-20 minutes of iPad exploration with the resources, 45 minutes of time on the floor for visitor interactions and then 15 minutes to debrief about things that worked well and those that didn’t and why. What we began to realize was that we were giving the Discovery Guides far too much to absorb in too short a time frame.

From this realization we began to formulate the “Bridging Document,” a piece that connects the physical exhibit to the tablet resources. Each Bridging Document highlights one exhibit activity, such as our Gears Table. The document is broken into many different parts. The first is Exhibit Content Focus, which highlights the main points of the activity. This often includes key words, scientific concepts, and other important information that a facilitator would need to know in order to interact with a group effectively.

The next section, Related Apps, lists the apps that a Discovery Guide can use to help a family have a more personalized learning experience. It includes a picture of the app icon, a description of the app, how the app relates to the exhibit content, and helpful hints about the app.

Other sections of the Bridging Documents include: additional information and resources, challenges, and other extensions of the activity. The additional information and resources is usually found in the form of a website links that a Discovery Guide can use to enhance their own knowledge of a topic or concept. A challenge is a verbal prompt or question a Discovery Guide can use to extend and deepen the learning. Other extensions could be videos, photos, and other websites and activities that could be suggested to a family or group to enable them to extend the learning at home.

You will find examples of Bridging Documents attached to this post as well as App Reviews from the Children’s Museum of Houston.





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Project Brief

21-Tech partners study and share the effective use of Personal Mobile Technologies (PMTs) by gallery facilitators in their work with visitors. The initial three years (2011-2013) of 21-Tech are funded in large part by a 21st Century Museum Professionals award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project is led by the Children’s Museum of Houston in partnership with Lawrence Hall of Science, New York Hall of Science, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and Sciencenter. For more information, please visit the About page.

Major funding provided by:

Additional support provided by: