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

Sound Uncovered

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App Description: Sound Uncovered is a free interactive app developed by the Exploratorium that has various activities related to auditory illusions. The app has videos, articles and various interactive activities on how our brain responds to sound. Some of the activities are guessing a sound, checking how one’s ability to hear high frequency sounds, playing a recorded sound backward etc.

How We Use It: At the Children’s Museum of Houston we use the Sound Uncovered and Color Uncovered apps in Think Tank, which is our gallery for brain benders, optical and auditory illusions. We use the ‘What’s making This Sound?’ activity in the Sound Uncovered app with the Whisper Tubes in the gallery to test hearing abilities. The facilitators place the iPad on one end of the tube to play the sound. The visitors hear the sound from the other end of the tube and guess what it is. Most of the visitors have not yet guessed that the sound is made by sand dunes instead they say it’s a helicopter or a buzzing bee. They are always amazed to discover that the sound is made by sand dunes. We also use this activity in EcoStation to test hearing abilities needed to hear different bird sounds as well as to explain how many things in nature such as rocks, sand dunes and stalactites can create music. In addition, our facilitators use some of the other activities on the app such as ‘How old are your ears?’ to check who can hear the faintest sound and ‘Find the highest note’ or ‘Which car would you buy?’ in the Thinking room for some quiet critical thinking time with tour groups as an end-of-the-tour activity.

Furthermore, every activity in the app has a concise explanation “What’s going on?” or “Show me more” to further explain the activity. This helps our facilitators get a quick reference to explain the auditory illusions and how our brain reacts to them.

Museum Recommending: Children’s Museum of Houston
Platform Used: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 6.0 or later.
Cost: Free
Link: Sound Uncovered



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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: