App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Gadgetarium App Poster Image
Interactive exploration of inventions inspires tinkerers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn history and science, exploring inventions throughout history. They can see how the machines work, touching and exploring them. They also can learn a bit about how and why they were made and used. There's enough here to pique kids' interests and inspire them to research more -- or perhaps to create something themselves. Gadgetarium is an interactive book that brings science and history to life.

Ease of Play

No instructions, so exploration is necessary to discover all the features, which aren't totally intuitive.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gadgetarium is an interactive history and science book featuring a time line of inventions that runs from the wheel to Google Glass. Kids can explore each invention in three dimensions, read about its history, add it to a collection of their favorite gadgets, and combine elements from each to create their own. Via Facebook and Twitter buttons in the app, kids over 13 can share their inventions. Each gadget includes a short history written in a casual, pun-filled style that's likely to appeal to older elementary or middle school-age kids. The verbal descriptions are different from the written ones, so non-readers won't get as much information about each gadget, though they can manipulate them on-screen.

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What's it about?

Starting with the wheel in 5,000 B.C., GADGETARIUM walks kids through centuries of inventions, including the abacus, the compass, clocks, spectacles, the microscope, television, the Polaroid, the cell phone, and more (the final entry on the time line is Google Glass). Kids explore each what each item does, view it from all sides, and hear and read a little history. They also can combine the gadgets to create their own inventions in the workshop.

Is it any good?

Gadgetarium's beautiful music and detailed graphics will impress all ages, but the history that's offered is very brief, serving as more of an introduction to each invention. The time line is interesting, showing the advancement of gadgets and how much technology has changed through the centuries. Some gadgets are more interactive than others -- the scale, light bulb, television, and Walkman are the standouts. Kids can look at each invention with a 360-degree view, but many beg to be opened up and explored, which isn't an option. Another small issue: Years are written as B.C. and A.C. rather than B.C. and A.D., which may be confusing to kids -- or at least require some explanation. The written descriptions are witty but not very deep, so kids and parents may want to investigate inventions of interest more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the inventions on the time line. Which do we still use today? How have they changed and been improved over the years?

  • Ask kids what they'd like to invent. How would their invention be used?

  • Discuss ways to find out more about each invention: What would be the best sources? What information do they want to know?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love gadgets

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