Common Sense Media says

Superb physics puzzler challenges kids, inspires creativity.






What parents need to know

Ease of play

The controls work smoothly, and the interface is intutive.

Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Some privacy concerns. Players can opt in to Apple's Game Center to track scores and achievements. Players can send and receive friend requests using an email address or Game Center nickname, revealing the first and last name associated with each party's Apple ID and, in the case of email requests, the sender's email address. Players can opt to have a private or public profile, which can include a photo. With a public profile, your real name is visible to all other players, and Game Center will recommend you to other players using your real name. With a private profile, only your friends can see your real name, and Game Center will not recommend you to other players. Kids can also email their inventions to friends and to the developer to include on their website.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Tinkerbox is a puzzler and engineering tool that challenges kids to complete physics-based puzzles and create their own virtual inventions. The free app was developed by Autodesk, the creators of AutoCad and other engineering tools. The challenging design tool may be frustrating for young kids. Kids can email their inventions to friends or to the developer to possibly be included on the game's website. They can also share high scores via the Game Center social network, but participation is optional.

What kids can learn



  • engineering
  • physics


Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • strategy


  • making new creations
  • developing novel solutions

Engagement, Approach, Support


Kids interested in engineering will be drawn in, but some may be turned off by the industrial-looking design.

Learning Approach

Kids will learn, practice, and apply knowledge through the different levels of puzzle and invention.


The help features and tutorials demonstrate each object, and kids can extend learning by visiting more demos on the developer's web site.

What kids can learn



  • engineering
  • physics


Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • strategy


  • developing novel solutions
  • making new creations

Kids can learn how physics and engineering interact as they manipulate slope, momentum, and gravity with objects like conveyer belts, fans, wheels, and more. Kids are empowered to create the machines they want and can choose which objects will create the outcome they desire. They can also learn a bit of history about each tool as they learn how to effectively use it in the Elements Help section. TinkerBox is an amazing, rich resource for kids to learn, practice, and apply physics and engineering principles.

This Learning Rating review was written by Amanda Bindel

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What's it about?

TINKERBOX is part game, part creative outlet. Kids can work their way through the six levels of puzzles, each offering many stages, where they drag the right object into place to complete the physics puzzler -- think Rube Goldberg machines. Kids complete one level of puzzle to unlock the next level of increasing challenge. They can also create their own inventions using the objects -- balls, bolts, chains, connectors, conveyer belts, fans, wheels, ropes, scissors, switches, and more. Several inventions are already loaded onto the app, and kids can alter those inventions or study them for inspiration.

Is it any good?


TinkerBox is an impressive tool for kids interested in engineering. The physics of the higher levels can get quite challenging, incorporating space gravity. The number of objects available for building is impressive, too. The training level demonstrates with lines and arrows to prepare kids for the challenges to come. The app is available on both iPhone and iPad, though inventing is more challenging on the smaller screen of the iPhone.

The industrial appearance of the lab may turn off some kids who are used to the more colorful appearance of apps like Amazing Alex. Still, this fun, free app is an excellent choice for encouraging kids to think, create, and explore.

Families can talk about...

  • Encourage kids to create their own Rube Goldberg machines with objects around the house that can serve as slopes, levers, buttons, and pulleys.

  • Make sure kids know that some great inventions are just alterations to existing inventions and let them know they can load and alter some of the demos included in the app.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:September 25, 2012
Category:Educational Games
Topics:High school
Size:96.80 MB
Publisher:Autodesk Inc.
Minimum software requirements:iOS 3.2 or later

This review of TinkerBox was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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