I work on the history of science for children from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. I am particularly interested in the history of what I have termed ‘familiar science’, exploring the literary style of the familiar introduction, the family context for science, and how familiarity was deployed to explain, instruct, and entertain. Topics of ongoing interest include the histories of everyday artefacts and activities, genre and analogy, fairy-tales and folklore, board games, puns and toys, and collecting science songs.
I am Director of Studies for History and Philosophy of Science, and supervise on the IB course. I also lecture and supervise on Part I and Part II of the Education Tripos, on history of education topics.
From 2009-2014 I was the editor of Viewpoint, the magazine of the British Society for the History of Science, and from 2006-2015 part of their Outreach and Education Committee. Work with this committee has included developing projects on Georgian astronomy, Amazonian travels, and object autobiography, judging the Dingle Prize 2009, 2011, and 14, the Great Exhibitions Prize 2010, 2012, and 2014, and performing in role-play dramas about seventeenth-century plague, body-snatching in Liverpool, and the Victorian séance (with the BSHS Strolling Players). I am also on the History of Science section of the British Science Association.
I am currently the Treasurer of the History of Education Society.