Monday, January 21, 2013

App Review: TinkerBox

One of my goals for 2013 is to share apps that I'll be incorporating in my library, whether as part of programs, in-library displays, or app advisory. Here's this week's review:

TinkerBox App Review

Platforms: iPad, iPhone/iPod
Content Area: Physics, Engineering
Age Recommendation: 7+
Premise: A brief tutorial introduces new users to the array of simple machines and tools (springs, conveyor belts, scissors, buttons, and blocks, to name a few) that are used throughout the app's two modes of play: Puzzle and Invent. In Puzzle mode, players are given a task to complete--for example, to get a ball in a bucket. Each level begins with a number of tools and machines in place; it is up to the player to determine how to use the additional pieces in the supplies bar in order to complete each level's task. There is some flexibility as to how each level can be solved, which keeps some of the more difficult levels from getting too frustrating. Players are able to test their creations as many times as they need to in order to tinker with their set-ups and solve a level. In Invent mode, players have access to all of the game's machines and tools and are free to create any sort of contraption. Inventors can save their creations, and there is also an e-mail option for when the device is connected to the internet.
     The TinkerBox app is well laid-out with clear HD graphics, which helps players to streamline their puzzle-solving process. All machines and tools are easily manipulable, perfect for users who are not yet completely comfortable with a touchscreen interface. The app also includes two levels of sound that can be switched off: background music and SFX (which gives sound to the machines and tools in action). This app does a great job of introducing the physics of a number of simple machines and tools in a fun, non-competitive context. I can easily see engineering-minded children getting really into the gameplay.
Potential Library Uses:
  - Recommending in reference interviews
  - On library-owned devices for customer use
Lite Version Available?: No, but the app is free

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See my first app review post for links to additional app review sources. And please chime in in the comments with your favorite apps and review sources!

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