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 with School Tour Groups

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At the Children’s Museum of Houston, we have used iPad apps primarily with families and small groups of children. But, more recently, the use of 21-Tech has extended beyond small groups to school tour groups of various grade levels. Our facilitators have come up with novel ways to use the iPad apps to introduce an exhibit, wrap up an activity or as an extension of the gallery experience. Here is what some of our facilitators have to say about their experience with 21-Tech apps on tours.

Lauren Bell – “The apps I use with tour groups are “Exploratorium’s Color Uncovered and Sound Uncovered” which teach kids about two of their senses (sight and hearing) that they use every day and how the mind can play tricks on these senses. I used these apps in our gallery Think Tank, which is a gallery for the visitors to learn about creative thinking, problem solving and how to think outside the box. For example in the Sound Uncovered app, there is a challenge called “What’s Making This Sound?” and what seems to sound like a buzzing noise from bees turns out to be the sound of sand booming dune. “Sand, making noise?” my tour groups would say in astonishment and they soon wanted to know more about the sound from their ears and their minds.”

Odis Garret – “While on tour, one key exhibit we visit is the Power Play exhibit. In this area, we try to emphasize to the kids the importance of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle. When touring this exhibit, we talk to kids about how exercising is essential for the heart and how it affects the speed at which the heart beats. The app called Pocket Heart is a great app to use while on tour at any area of Power Play. One way I use this app is by explaining to the kids that our hearts beat at different speeds from when we are resting and doing exercise. I usually open and close my hand repeatedly to give them a visual of the frequency of heart beats. Pocket Heart not only gives them a great visual of a beating heart but also its beating patterns are fast enough to show exactly how the human heart beats during exercise.”

Aldec Saniel – “For tour groups I use More Buffet in the HEB Market in Kidtropolis, USA area as it helps me role play a real life situation where I can interact with a child and expose them to different foods from other countries. I explain to the HEB worker that I’ve never shopped for food, that I have to prepare dinner for my family, and I need help finding the different foods and ingredients to make my meal. If they agree to help me locate food, I quickly show them the iPad with the meal that I’m preparing. So, for example, if I want to make Pancit Bihon (shrimp noodle) from Philippines, I show the H.E.B worker what it looks like and I ask where I can find each ingredient. If they don’t have the food, I usually ask what they can use instead as a replacement.”

Janavia Washington – “During tours, I come in contact with children of all different cultures. I notice that many children have language barriers hindering them from playing very closely with the other children around them. I use the iTranslate app as it makes it easy to show that even though we are different, in so many ways we are alike also. For example, on the last tour that I had, there was one girl who was Arabic. She spoke very little English, and didn’t really play with the other children. So, once my group got to the gallery Think Tank, I mentioned to the children about her culture and asked if that would like to learn a word in her language since she has to work so hard every day to learn ours. The children were more than happy to learn her language. As I pulled up the word “Think” I noticed that it was inscribed in the Arabic text. I then showed the girl the writing and her little face just lit up as she pronounced the word to me. Moments later the entire class was chanting the word ‘think’ in Arabic!”

Museum Recommending: Children’s Museum of Houston
Reference: School Tour Apps

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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.

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Additional support provided by: