WALLINGFORD — In the span of 30 minutes, Atreyu Jordan traveled the depths of the ocean, wielded lightsabers and took a stroll down the streets of Meriden Tuesday through the use of a virtual reality system offered by the public library.
“That was fun,” the 12-year-old said. “It was really, really awesome.”
The Wallingford Public Library acquired the Oculus Quest in the spring to run a pilot program in the summer for teens. The VR headset consists of goggles and two handles to control movements within the space of virtual reality. Anyone not using the Oculus can see what’s happening on a separate screen.
The library’s head of teen services, Jennifer Nash, said since the start of the program in July, the use of the virtual reality system at the Collaboratory has proven to be very successful. Nash said each session throughout the summer has been full, with teens from grades 6 to 12 filling a waiting list to try Oculus Quest. Each teen has the opportunity to register online for a 30-minute session.
“The feedback we’ve gotten is from the kids and the parents and they’re thrilled about it,” Nash said. “It’s an educational, free, fun thing for your kids to do at the library.”
Jordan said it was not his first time using a virtual reality system, but it was his first time using the Oculus Quest. He said the system takes some getting used to, but he was able to learn a lot in his session with the help of the librarian.
As an incentive to read during the summer, teens can submit the books they have read for a chance to win their own Oculus Go VR set.
Each book will count as one entry and teens will have the chance to win other prizes, such as gift cards and experiences.
Nash said the program ends Aug. 24 and the library will announce the winners the following week.
“We’re exploring how we can make that available to adults also in the future,” Nash said. “We kind of used the teens this summer as a pilot for being able to see what kinks we ran into and we really haven’t had any.”