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

Midnight Planets

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App Description: You can view up-to-date images of Mars taken from the Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity rovers with the free app Midnight Planets!  The info icon will allow you to select by destination, so you can view hundreds of photos from past locations.  Some images are color, some are black and white, and the resolution varies since the rovers have many different types of cameras.  You can also view the images from certain destinations as a panorama.  It’s never a perfect panorama, but you can select various pictures that make up the panorama and zoom in closer.

How we use it:  Most commonly is when facilitators use it with our microscopes in the Life Hall or Earth Hall as we explore what types of rocks are on Mars.  Visitors check out various rocks with and without microscopes or hand lenses and they compare to the Mars images from the app.  Facilitation could be done with printed images, but we would have to keep printing the images as they became available, and we couldn’t do the panorama. But I feel the importance of doing the demonstration with the app is because it provides and easy and free way to stay connected beyond the museum.  This app does a great job of meeting the public where they are.

A few more cool things:

  1. The home screen has a “news” section to help you stay connected even more with the missions.  This has been helpful for the staff to stay up-to-date too!
  2. The app also lets you cache photos.  This is great when WiFi is not working well, just pre-cache a bunch and head out on the floor.
  3. This app pairs up nicely with Science on a Sphere (SOS).

Museum Recommending: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Platform used: ipad

Cost: Free

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/midnight-planets/id556475069?mt=12

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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: