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

21-Tech — Inside out! (Facilitator Post)

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My name is Janavia Washington. I am a Discovery Guide (DG) at the Children’s Museum of Houston.  When the idea of using an iPad for visitor interaction was brought to my attention, honestly, I wasn’t too thrilled.  There was so much confusion among myself and other DGs as well. I had thoughts like: “I’m not very good with technology,” or “What if I get in trouble for using the internet,” or “How will I ever learn to use these apps?”  Once the DGs began communicating their concerns with the 21-Tech Managers, and they with us, things were more clearly understood.

The most helpful thing for me in using the iPad was a time set aside specifically for playing with the iPad.  That’s how I got a chance to familiarize myself with the tool, such as location of apps, how they work, and what happens if I accidentally press a random button (I’m always doing that. Lol!).

Next, I began to try apps by brainstorming and then testing how I can interact with children.  Once I got the hang of it, I was more than excited to use my new tool as a learning aid, especially for those awkward moments when I walk up to a child and ask if they want to play, and they look at me like I have cooties.  It’s so great to watch their faces change, as they turn around from a “No, where’s my mommy?” to “Sure! What’s that?”

In addition, I find myself referring to it so much that I sometimes look for an iPad at home, and then remember that I don’t have one (that’s still funny to me!).  21-Tech helps make my job so much easier from “Match the Mommy” animal games (via the Sound Touch app) to references like “How to Solve a Rubics Cube.”  I love 21-Tech! 😀

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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: