Valve is offering gamers the chance to play their hit game Portal, for free until September 20. Originally released back in 2007, Portal is a physics-based puzzle game that challenges players’ minds as well as reflexes. The game is being made available through Steam’s online gaming site and is compatible with both the Mac and PC.
Valve is hoping that by making Portal available for free, educators will have a chance to see that video games can be used in the classroom to teach students math and science in a fun and engaging way.
Valve states, “Today, innovative educators are finding ways to incorporate Portal™ and Portal 2 into their classrooms—helping teach physics and critical-thinking skills.”
“One of the biggest challenges in teaching science, technology, engineering, and math is capturing the students’ imaginations long enough for them to see all of the possibilities that lie ahead.”
Students use the Hammer toolset within Portal to design levels that encourage creative problem solving skills. Teachers set up physics based challenges that students must then solve by designing levels that meet the requirements of the challenge. The students learn by doing and have a great time in the process.
According to Valve, “Using interactive tools like the Portal series to draw them in makes physics, math, logic, spatial reasoning, probability, and problem-solving interesting, cool, and fun which gets us one step closer to our goal—engaged, thoughtful kids!”
By making games that challenge a student’s mind, Valve has developed an innovative teaching tool that educators can use to help make the process of learning math and science a more enjoyable process for everyone. Hopefully, other developers will follow in Valve’s footsteps and start creating games that are both fun to play, and that also teach something useful in the process.