Did education just become a lot more fun? Online gaming service Valve this week announced its educator edition of Steam, which comes with a free copy of Portal 2 and Portal 2 Puzzle Maker designed for classroom use by teachers and students.
"We understand that learning is not fulfilled by a one-size-fits-all approach. The education version of our Puzzle Maker empowers students and educators to craft unique puzzles, explore worlds, and share custom lesson plans," Valve wrote on its Teach with Portals website.
In the Portal world, students interact with physical objects like cubes, catapults, and lasers to learn about physical principals like mass and weight, acceleration, momentum, gravity, and energy, all while playing a video game.
The game arms each player with a Portal gun, which shoots energy that opens portals in walls, ceilings, or floors, creating a space for objects to enter through and exit out at the same speed and trajectory. Critical thinking, spatial reasoning, problem solving, iteration, and collaboration skills come are all exercised in game play.
By joining Steam for Schools, teachers will gain more than an educational distraction for their students. The accompanying website Teach with Portals includes a number of shared physics and math lesson plans. Chemistry, game design, language arts, and more subject-specific hooks will be added as the program expands, Valve said. Teachers can also submit their own pertinent lesson plans, which go through a review process before being posted to Teach with Portals.
By signing up for the service, educators gain access to the Valve Education forum, where teachers from around the world can share video game technology uses in classroom environments.
Rated as appropriate for all ages, the game is meant to appeal to both girls and boys, and people with no prior gaming experience. The education-tailored versions of Portal and Portal 2 (read our review) can be played on PCs and Macs.
For more, check out PCMag's review of Steam. To see what happened when students visited Valve for an educational sneak peek at Portal 2, watch the video below.