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

The Giant Timer

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App Description: The Giant Timer is a timer that covers the entire iPad screen. This app has been tested to be visible from over 100 feet! It has two settings, stopwatch and countdown. The stopwatch counts up the seconds as the time elapses. In the countdown function, you input a time, such as 1 minute and the app countdowns to 0 from that time.

How We Use It: Giant Timer is our multipurpose app that can be used in multiple exhibit components to challenge the visitors in a friendly competitive ‘race against time’ activity or to measure how much time they take to do a certain activity. This app is often used at our PowerPlay exhibit, for example, the Mt. Boulder rock climbing wall exhibit to check how long it takes a visitor to climb the entire wall. It is also used in the Snow/Surf exhibit wherein the visitors try to balance on the surf board as the timer counts down from 1 minute. Our facilitators have also used this app in Invention Convention with the Widget Wall and Lego Car exhibits. It has helped measure how long a ball takes to travel the path or how long it takes the visitors to build a path for the ball. The same goes for the Lego Cars to measure how long it takes for the car to travel down the obstacle path. Basically this app can be used in any Skill building exhibit component to measure time lapsed in doing a certain task, for example time elapsed in building the Giant Arch.

We have specifically trained our facilitators not to use the app in exhibits that require physical abilities like in an obstacle race. There is possibility of children getting hurt in trying to finish before the timed countdown. In addition, unless a parent is using the timer to measure the child’s progress in an activity, a drawback of the app use is that most of the times the facilitators are interacting with the app for timing the visitor’s progress. We would appreciate if you have any other engaging ideas to share for using this app better. 🙂

Museum Recommending: Children’s Museum of Houston
Platform Used: iPad iOS 5.0 or later
Cost: Free
Link: The Giant Timer 

Bridging Documents: The Giant ArchWidget Wall

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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: