Superb physics puzzler challenges kids, inspires creativity.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

The controls work smoothly, and the interface is intutive.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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


  • developing novel solutions
  • making new creations

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

Kids say

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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

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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; OK 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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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byMomOf2inVT June 14, 2014

In the top tier for learning apps

I was looking for science, physics and math apps for my little girls. This one seemed a bit old for ages 5 and 7. However our experience seems to suggest that the app works well with younger ages. It is the top app they choose, at about 80% of the time. I have to limit their time on it. They are engrossed. While real materials trump virtual every time, this gives a nice early exposure to physics and engineering and peaks interest. My girls feel like inventors and scientists. They make connections to robots. They love this app.
What other families should know
Easy to play/use


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