Early learning innovator awarded science prize

An educationalist with a passion for early years learning has received the University’s annual prize for raising public interest in science.

Dr Andrew Manches was awarded The Tam Dalyell Prize for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science for a range of innovative research projects.

This prize, awarded as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival, recognises and rewards the University’s outstanding science communicators.

Dr Manches is a  Senior Lecturer and the Deputy Director of Knowledge Exchange in the  University’s Moray House School of Education and Sport.

Varied roles

He also directs Edinburgh’s Children and Technology Group, is a member of the Young Academy of Scotland and sits on the Education and Young People panels for the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Dr Manches spent eight years as a teacher – firstly with infants and then in special education – before becoming a design-based researcher at Edinburgh.

His research focuses on ways in which physical interaction can enhance learning and how this might impact on emerging technologies.

Technology focus

Dr Manches also seeks to empower the role of adults in children’s learning, with a particular emphasis on the positive use of technology.

Among his research initiatives is a project exploring how early years science learning can influence the design of museum exhibits.

Other projects include an initiative with Edinburgh Zoo to improve learning using soft toys, and a charades game that supports the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths.

Everyday practice

Dr Manches’ enthusiasm for linking cognitive theory with everyday practice and design has led to him working with educators throughout Scotland.

He has also commercialised some of his early learning technologies through a spin out company called PlayTalkLearn.

The Tam Dalyell Prize began in 2008. It is named in honour of Dr Tam Dalyell, the politician and enthusiastic science communicator who wrote a weekly New Scientist columnist for 36 years.

Dr Dalyell, who died in 2007, was Rector of the University of Edinburgh from 2003 to 2006.

Over his relatively short university career, Andrew has become established as an internationally renowned and highly respected academic who is widely recognised as a leader in his field.

Richard AndrewsHead, Moray House School of Education and Sport