Professor Andrew Manches

Professor of Children and Technology

  • Director: Children and Technology group
  • Co-Director: Digital Education Research Centre
  • Associate Director: The Scottish Graduate School of Social Science

Contact details


Andrew Manches is a Professor of Children and Technology at the University of Edinburgh, where he leads the Children and Technology group as co-director of the Digital Education Research Centre. He is Associate Director of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (Interdisciplinarity lead) and a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (RSE) Education panel. Professor Manches’ research examines interaction in learning and the implications for pedagogy and design –including the potential of emerging technologies. More specifically he focuses on understanding role of the body in STEM conceptual development and how we can use this understanding to support early learning – Embodied Learning (e.g., through teacher gesture).

Following 8 years as a classroom teacher (primary), Professor Manches completed a Case Studentship PhD in Learning Sciences co-funded by the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) and Nesta Futurelab in 2009. He was then awarded an ESRC post-doc fellowship at the Institute of Education, UCL. Having worked on several funded projects focusing on early science and learning technologies, Professor Manches was awarded a three-year ESRC Future Research Leader grant which he brought to Edinburgh in 2013. He was subsequently awarded a Chancellor’s Fellowship (2014-2019) and selected as a member of the RSE’s Young Academy of Scotland (2015-2019).

Professor Manches has been awarded over £1 million in funding for projects (Wellcome, ESRC, Carnegie, ScotPEN, EPSRC, NESTA, Innovate, NSF) largely to explore the role of embodiment in early learning. In each project, he works closely alongside practitioners to gain better research insight as well as increase the impact of his work. In 2019, Professor Manches was awarded the Tam Dalyell prize for excellence in engaging the Public with science to recognise his ongoing efforts to bridge his work with everyday educational practice and design.

As a design-based researcher, Professor Manches has co-developed and commercialised a range of early learning designs (e.g., Numbuko, Magic Cloud, Embodied Balance Beam, Edi the Bear). He has spun out two early learning companies. Currently, Professor Manches and his team have been developing STEM Charades – a non-digital card game to help children learn STEM concepts through gesture. In 2020, Professor Manches created an early special edition STEM Charades pack to help children talk and learn about concepts related to Covid-19. This resource is available to download for free here.

Professor Manches’ latest work has started to explore children’s understanding of personal data, and the potential to improve pedagogy and designs to make data concepts more accessible.  He is keen to hear from those working in this field, notably industries with an interest in ethical approaches to young children and personal data.

Professor Manches designed and directs the MSc Children and Technology course and is currently co-developing an MSc course on EdTech entrepreneurship for Edinburgh Futures Institute. He lives with his wife and three children in Edinburgh, where he has spent the last ten years converting an 1820’s steading into a home, rentals and rentable meeting space. He is also a Scout Leader.


Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Director of the Children and Technology Group
  • Co-Director of the Digital Education Research Centre
  • Course Director of Children and Technolology MSc course
  • Course Co-Director of EdTech Entrpeneurship MSc course
  • Associate Director of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh Select Panel for Education
  • Education Committee for the International Community of the Learning Sciences
  • Select member of BESA's EdTech Exchange
  • Member of the University of Edinburgh's Innovation Forum


Undergraduate teaching

Educational Studies 

Postgraduate teaching

Designed, Direct and Teach on Children and Technology course (MSC Education)

In process of co-designing EdTech Entrpreneurship for Edinburgh Futures Institute

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Interested in project focusing on Children and Technology, and generally Learning.

Expertise lends itself more to children aged 0-12, and research adopting a learning science or psychology approach. I do supervise technical projects, although my input is from the interaction/design perspective.

Current PhD students supervised

(2017-). Alexia Revueltas Roux - What does engagement look like in early science learning? Understanding multimodality in engagement

(2018(PT)-). Nicola Kiernan – Digital STEM education support of visuospatial conceptual understanding in scientific disciplines

(2019-). Stephen Sowa - Primary school pupils’ career aspirations and job automation risks

(2020-). Can Eda Alici- Children's Computational Thinking Skills Affect on Peer Relations

(2021-). Kawla Alhamad -The Impact of Augmented Reality (AR) Books on the Reading Comprehension and Reading Enjoyment of Struggling Readers

(2021-). Ari Beckingham - How VR, AR and XR technology can be used for young EAL learners in language centres and international schools in South East Asia.

(2021-). Gurmit Uppal. Internet Bullying.


Past PhD students supervised

(2017-2021). Maggi Laurie- Autism, Technology and Play: a practitioner led study

(2016-2020). Mihaela Dragomir - Facilitating pretend play in children with autism through interactive, augmented narratives

(2014-2016). Stuart Gray - BrainQuest: An Active Smart Phone Game to Enhance Executive Function

Research summary

My research passion is understanding how young children think and how representations shape how they learn. My early worked focused on the value of physical representations, and the implications of uniting physical and digital in new technologies. More recently, I have focused on the potential of gestures, as a form of spontaneous, dynamic, visuospatial representation in supporting conceptual development. My age focus in early years (0-8) although that has often extended to all primary age (to 12). This age reflects my own teaching experience as well as being such an intriguing age period developmentally. I have worked in all learning domains but have found myself focusing on STEM(Science Technologoy Engineering Mathematics) conceptual development in particular. 

Whilst the above is my particular focus, I am interested in a broader range of work looking at early conceptual development, and the role of technology in learning. I am particularly interested in emerging and future technologies. Below are other areas I have focused upon to illustrate my broader interests: 

  • Early STEM learning
  • Embodied Cognition and Learning
  • Emerging Technologies
  • EdTech Entrepreneurship
  • Interaction and Learning

Current research interests

Embodied Learning in the Early years and the potential of gesture to help young children to understand complex concepts Children understanding of Personal Data and ways to design new learning representations to help children understanding the meaning and value of their data. See to read about recent projects

Past research interests

See to read about past projects

Knowledge exchange

As well as more traditional efforrts (e.g. talks/blogs/reports), Dr Manches works with a range of experts to develop innovative resources for knoweldge exchange and impact, including:

  • Animations
  • App games
  • Card games
  • Digital Learning resources
  • Drama expositions
  • Classroom games

Project activity

For all projects past and present please visit where you can search by name or group. 

Current project grants

2021-2024 Co-I SENSE (£1 million) from EPSRC
2021-2021 PI Educational Technology & Entrepreneurship (£10,000) from Data-Driven Innovation
2021-2022 PI Move2Learn2Teachers (£69,000) from ScotPEN
2017-2021 PI Science Learning (£701,000 + £34,000 extension) from the Wellcome Trust & ESRC

Past project grants

2018-2019 PI Children’s Understanding of personal data (£5,000) from Edinburgh Futures Institute
2018-2019 PI Move2Learn Balance Beam (£20,000) from Wellcome Trust Translational Impact
2018-2019 PI Magic Cloud (£10,000) from ESRC Business Booster Grant
2017 Co-I Digital Play Course (£20,000) from ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant.
2016 PI Computing Education workshop Malaysia (£4,700) from ESRC IAA Global Challenges Research Fund.
2016 PI Research Incentive grant (£7,500) from Carnegie Trust
2015- 2016 PI Technology R&D SMART grant (£100,000) awarded by Scottish Enterprise, Scotland
2014-2015 Co-I Phase1 UK/US Science Learning+ grant (£6,000) from National Science Foundation, US
2013-2015 PI Future Research Leader grant (£165,000) awarded Economic Social Research Council
2014-2014 PI Challenge Investment Fund (£12,000) awarded by University of Edinburgh (internal)
2010 PI Post-Doc. Fellowship (£124,000) awarded by Economic Social Research Council, UK

View all 39 publications on Research Explorer