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

Selecting exhibits at OMSI

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When we were discussing what exhibit(s) to use for testing in the App we wanted to have an accurate sample of the types of areas and exhibits we have here at OMSI.  We ended up choosing two different sets of exhibits to put in the App for testing.  The first is a set located in the Turbine Hall we called “Pressure in Science” and included a water bottle rocket station, an air rocket station and a Cartesian diver station.  The second was the Watershed Lab located in the Earth Hall.  This included the watershed table, NW renewable energy table, sink or float station, ice cores station, NW fossil map, seismograph station and a scavenger hunt.  The third, added at the beginning of Cycle 2, is “Ways to explore OMSI”  whose aim is to give both new and returning visitors tips and advice for how and what to do while here.


We chose two groups of stations for a couple of main reasons.

  1. OMSI has exhibits and stations in different types of environments; areas always available to visitors while OMSI is open and Labs that are only open during specific hours and days and have an educator nearby. By having App content in both types we hope to see if an App is used differently in the different areas.
  2. Part of this grant is to see what types of content people want/use in an App for a Museum. We used a larger number of stations and areas to give us more options to try different things like “scavenger hunt”, “photo op station”, “challenges” and “try this at home”.
  3. We added the “ways to explore OMSI” section, which isn’t attached to any specific exhibit or station because we wanted to see if this kind of info would be used and/or helpful to have in the App.

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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: