21-Tech

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

Here, and there.

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At the Sciencenter, we sometimes like to do things the old fashioned way… We love our lo-tech, hands-on interactive exhibits, and we’re all about our visitors learning together in ways that differ from how they learn at home.

That said, our staff and volunteers are fully embracing the new skills we’re building as part of the 21-Tech collaborative, and getting our new tech out onto the floor in different and exciting ways. Not only are the iPads, and associated apps and content, being used by 21-Tech education interns at traditional exhibits, but we’re also incorporating these resources into other programs and activities.

Our Discovery Space is a “hot spot” for the iPads. Many of the discovery boxes include activities, like Origami or Making Paper Airplanes, that directly benefit from an existing instructional app. Volunteers work with visitors to use the apps and expand on the activities in the boxes. As one volunteer puts it, “It’s so much better to let the kids explore different designs on the iPad, a picture [or in this case, a video or animation] is worth a thousand words!”

Our education and exhibits staff are also working together to provide a better experience for our visitors at the “Touch Tank.”  Hooked up to a large monitor via Apple TV, touch tank volunteers and staff can now use the iPads to demo videos, slide shows, and images of all the different animals. It’s a great way to show visitors specific animal behavior, like a Sea Star eating and digesting.

Overall, the mobile technologies utilized by the 21-Tech project have been a great, and relatively easy, way for us to experiment with having more tech on our exhibit floor. So far, we’re quite pleased!

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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: