The researcher Manuel Armayones shares his Behavior Design Lab research with teenage students

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Foto: https://somoscientificos.es

Teresa Bau

He is one of the people taking part in the "We're scientists, get us out of here!" project, organized by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

This initiative aims to encourage students to follow scientific careers through an online chat between the young people and scientists

"Many professional researchers remember a particular talk, teacher or experience that made us realize that this was the career we wanted to pursue. Thanks to projects such as We're scientists, get us out of here, we can help give teenagers this kind of experience, and have a positive impact on their future," says Manuel Armayones, a professor in the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya's (UOC) eHealth Center.

Armayones is one of fifty scientists taking part in this initiative of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), which aims to encourage students between 14 and 18 years of age to pursue careers in science. Between 2 and 26 November, thousands of secondary school students from all over Spain will challenge scientists using an online chat facility by asking them all types of questions ranging from their research work to personal questions about the job and the Covid-19 pandemic, among others. After talking to them, the students will vote for their favourite researcher, and the winner will win €500 to use on disseminating their research.

In Armayones' opinion, "we mustn't squander the opportunity to give young people emotional experiences and the chance to chat to researchers who work on things that really attract their attention and arouse their interest. We complain that not enough people pursue a scientific career, but we struggle to even get close to the level of dissemination involved in this project, which enables us to connect with very young students who will be the scientists of the future in just a few years' time."


The Behavior Design Lab's research explained to teenagers

Manuel Armayones' task in the "We Are Scientists" project will be to tell young students about his research at the PSiNET Behavior Design Lab, one of the research groups affiliated to the UOC's eHealth Center. The researcher is studying human behaviour and how to positively influence it by using technology for the promotion of healthy habits.

"The need to understand what causes behavioural changes and how to shape interventions to change unhealthy habits has already led organizations including the UN and the WHO to create units to address the need to understand how changes in behaviour take place," explains the researcher. The UN's work to raise awareness of the importance of Behavioural Sciences "will lead to many new opportunities for projects, as well as - hopefully - more of the children with whom we are carrying out this dissemination work as part of the FECYT project choosing to pursue careers in science."

In the opinion of this scientist and psychologist, "the pandemic has made society aware of the importance of research because, for the first time, people have seen how all disciplines, ranging from biomedicine to social sciences, have focused exclusively on a single issue, and the results of these multidisciplinary efforts. It is a very interesting momentum that is worth publicizing and telling people about."

UOC experts

Photograph of Manuel Armayones Ruiz

Manuel Armayones Ruiz

Lecturer in the Psychology and Education Sciences Department
Researcher of the eHealth Center

Expert in: E-health; the Internet and health; e-patients; health in the future; the psychological impact of ICT; patient social networks; addiction; the Internet and new technologies; health and robotics; rare diseases and the Internet; online psychological intervention strategies; rare diseases and ICT.

Knowledge area: eHealth, eSalut, health and ICTs.

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