Royal Ontario Museum Goes Hi-Tech for Family Fun

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Ask families who have visited the Royal Ontario Museum (also known as the ROM) what is their favourite area to visit and you probably won’t be surprised by the answer: Dinosaurs or the Bat Cave or maybe the Discovery Zone, all located on the second level. Indeed these areas are great and very popular judging by the weekend crowd, but they only represent a portion of what the ROM has to offer.

To encourage families to explore and discover other areas within the museum, the ROM is working with the SCVNGR app (free) on a trial basis this year. According to Ryan Dodge, the Library Technician at the ROM and the gentleman behind the SCVNGER use within the museum, ‘My aim is to provide a fun and educational mobile game experience in our galleries.’ 

The museum has used the SCVNGR app before, running their first trek on Family Day in conjunction with the museum’s children’s book, Burton and Isabelle Pipistrelle. Based on the interest and feedback received, the ROM plans to create new and more expanded treks, with the first one running during March Break.

‘We are also running [the SCVNGR program] from March 10-18 to give more people a chance to play. The theme is ‘Around the World’ and there are ten stops/challenges in the trek. They cover most of the World Cultures galleries at the museum and some objects that people often overlook. We have also added a ‘did you know’ type message that is displayed when you answer each challenge that corresponds to the object,’ reports Ryan.

Right from the start my nine-year old took charge of my iPhone and lead us on our hunt. You can do the trek in any order though it is set-up to start at the top of the museum and wind its way down to the lobby. The app is free and loads right on to your iOS or Android mobile device, meaning no need to rent and learn how to use a new piece of equipment. Although the museum is planning on getting wifi in the future, right now you would need a 3G device to participate in the digital scavenger hunt.

I love the idea of the ROM incorporating technology into making the user’s experience more hands-on. Many of the other galleries not often visited have some very cool artifacts; however, walking up and down rows of display cases may not have the same kid appeal as walking through the Bat Cave. The addition of the SCVNGR app treks adds a more interactive experience to what might seem dull.

Although the hunt itself can be fun, the addition of points and prizes is bound to stir your adventurous side. Each challenge you complete earns you points. Plus you can get bonus points with mini challenges. Complete all ten challenges in the March Break Around the World trek and you.

Could win a spot for a child and adult at the next ROM Sleepover event on April 20, 2012. We loved the ROM Sleepover experience when we went last year.

Beyond the March Break trek, the ROM plans on developing monthly treks, focusing on new challenges and areas within the museum. April they are planning an ‘Egg Hunt’, asking players to find all the different eggs on display within the museum and discussions on May are floating around the idea of a trivia quest to tie into Museum month. The more treks and challenges you participate in, the more points you earn, garnering you badges and potential prizes. My son hopes there’s a trek planned focusing on weaponry and my oldest daughter would love to see mini challenges within one gallery. Although she loved the Around the World trek, she would be interested in spending more time within one gallery, focusing on a series of challenges.

On your next visit to the ROM, get the whole family involved with the hunt and explore the museum like you have never done before. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a points leader. To learn more about how the Royal Ontario Museum is using the SCVNGR app, visit www.rom.on.ca/scvngr/

Let the challenges begin!

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