A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What 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'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.
Talk to your kids 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.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Science: engineering, physics
- Skills: Creativity: developing novel solutions, making new creations
Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles, strategy
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: September 25, 2012
- Category: Educational Games
- Topics: High school
- Size: 96.80 MB
- Publisher: Autodesk Inc.
- Version: 1.5.1
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 3.2 or later
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.