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

Technology, Art and Science Blossom into New Learning Experiences with Museum Outreach

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March has been an exciting month with the Children’s Museum of Houston outreach! With Spring in the air, elementary and intermediate students in grades K-6 were able to explore two common March themes- water (who doesn’t love a spring rain shower?) and candy (lining the grocery store aisles in the pretty pastel packaging, it sure is hard to avoid!).

The experiment is called “Floating Ms”, and the idea is simple: place a few M&Ms into a small cup of water, with the M facing up. Observe the color separation of the candies’ dye, and how in just a few minutes the white M will peel away from the candy and float to the top of the water. The Ms float to the top because they are made of an edible wax. This is a great experiment to try with Skittles and Gobstoppers, too!

This activity was a wonderful opportunity for the kids to practice forming a hypothesis, gathering data and drawing conclusions. In addition, the iPad app DrawingPad provided an excellent technology and art link to the lesson, as the students used the app to draw a diagram of their experiment before (as a hypothesis of what they thought would happen to the M&M’s) and after (observing the changes and drawing conclusions). While the lesson itself proved to be a meaningful scientific journey, the addition of the iPads brought learning to a new level as the students were able to use technology to convey the scientific ideas with a given set of artistic tools.

The DrawingPad was a great choice for this extension as it provided all the different tools an artist may use to show depth in their design- watercolor paint was used for water, markers for the brightly-colored candy, and colored pencils to show to white M’s. In addition to a variety of artistic mediums (thick pencils, markers, chalk, crayons, stickers), there is the ability to save the artistic creations into an album, which can be saved to the iPad, e-mailed, or posted on Twitter or Facebook.

I can see this app being used across the curriculum and within a variety of museum exhibits, from Ecostation (diagramming observations in nature) to Inventor’s Workshop (planning an invention design) to Science Station (diagramming what might happen with a particular experiment). Basically, it can be used as a creative tool to help young scientists conduct and record their experiments!

I hope my experience with the app has shown you that (as with many apps), the possibilities are endless when it comes to how technology can be integrated into learning that happens every day!

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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: