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

Age and perceived App utility

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One interesting piece of information that has come to light during Cycle 2 is the seemingly large gap in how parents with different aged children view the usefulness of the App.  Here at OMSI the families that participated in the evaluation had older children (ages 8-13) and gave largely positive reviews of their use of the App.  Other museums had very different results from their evaluations; with families saying that they felt the App distracted them too much from the experience and watching their children.  The different we discovered was that the families at the other museums had much younger children (ages 6 and under).  With the relatively small samples we used it is hard to know for sure if this is the case in general or not.  This difference is something to explore more during Cycle 3.  If it is found that it is mostly families of older children that use the App, it could change the design of the content and layout.  Here are the points we found that differ between the two age groups:

Age 6 and under Ages 8-13
  • Parents need to keep closer eye on their children, and feel an App distracts them too much.
  • App only distracting in that it is an App.  Didn’t take away from experience.
  • Came to museum to get away from things like Apps.
  • Parents liked having extra resource at hand.
  • Children too young to understand App uses.
  • Liked content on screen better than those on placards at exhibits.
  • Children too young to use App themselves.
  • Children able to use App themselves and guide experience with parents.

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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: