Seniors learn virtual reality from middle school kids, helps cognitive skills

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WASHINGTON, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Some people at a Washington retirement center learned how to use virtual reality sets for the first time.

Their teachers were local middle schoolers who use the goggles in classes, but the experience was more than just learning about new technology. Staff at the United Presbyterian Home in Washington said the virtual reality expedition was a good brain exercise for some of the residents here.

"This is just another way to stimulate a different area of the brain and get them thinking a little differently. That's really fun to see," said Amy Kleese, the wellness director at the United Presbyterian Home in Washington.

Kleese said these kind of activities can help those who deal with memory loss or other cognitive disabilities. She said the retirees love a new learning experience.

"They always love it when the kids come. Getting to experience some one on one with them or getting to know who some of the school kids are," said Kleese.

Kids from Washington Middle School were happy to share their new virtual reality goggles. They use them to learn in classes like geography. Today they were used to help the seniors see the world.

"We're clear up looking down on the Great Wall of China," said Connie Bauer, a resident at the United Presbyterian Home.

Bauer has actually been to the Great Wall of China.

"It was kind of neat seeing it again but it's not quite like being there," said Bauer.

"It's just really fun to share it with them and see what their reactions are to everything and since they might know more about it than we do, yeah it's pretty cool," said Greta Rothe, an eighth grader at Washington Middle School.

One of the teachers said the students can learn things from the seniors too.

"Maybe they've been there to talk about their experience there and give that to the kids. I think that's invaluable," said Connie Svenby, a social studies teacher at Washington Middle School.

For those who still have the Statue of Liberty or other places on their bucket list, the virtual reality goggles come in handy.

"For people who haven't gotten to travel, this is the next best thing," said Bauer.

The school will make this a monthly event to show different virtual reality locations to the seniors. Seniors are already requesting to see places like Ireland and the Grand Canyon.