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The need for critical thinking among children is now!

Everyday children are faced with health claims, some reliable and some not so reliable, but how do we help children see the “fake news” from the credible information? How do we teach our children to develop a critical eye when it comes to all of the information they encounter every day. The pandemic of 2020 has taught us all about the need to be critical when we read about health claims, and that we need to explore where claims are coming from.

We think we have the answer to helping children learn about this process… and its a lot of fun!

What is the START Competition?

Every year the world celebrates International Clinical Trials Day on May 20th. This event marks the anniversary of the first well-documented randomised clinical trial which took place in 1747 in the British Navy. The Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) celebrates this important occasion with the help of the younger members of our community. We invite primary school students in 4th, 5th & 6th classes to lead on an exciting project and create their very own fun randomised clinical trial in the classroom. Primary school students are invited to recreate their very own randomised trial, following the resources provided.

Not only does this competition align with subjects within the primary school curriculum, this competition helps develop critical thinking and has been described by teachers as a new teaching tool.

START can help your students become the scientists of tomorrow, and the critical thinkers of today.

How can schools take part?

Teachers and students are asked to identify a suitable research question they can answer scientifically using the information provided. The purpose of this competition is to help students become aware of the randomised clinical trial process, rather than answering a groundbreaking question. Pick a simple, easy to answer question, but use the proper steps of a clinical trial to answer it.

The best part is that you can report the findings in any way you like, podcast, video, collage or poster, report, it’s up to you to be as creative as you like! The deadline for receipt of completed projects is April 22nd 2021.

What can schools win?

Given the current pandemic, a new awards ceremony format will be in place for START 2021.  This is to ensure social distancing and the safety of everyone involved.

The top 3 schools will win a crystal trophy and will participate in a unique online awards ceremony live streamed from NUI Galway on Thursday, May 20th 2021. Classes and schools will be able to join this event online. The START team will ensure a special event for everyone involved and that the achievements of the classes are celebrated.

Animated video about randomised trials and START - Narrated by Senan Devane, Galway, Ireland (Aged 10)

To get started, Simply download the relevant helpful documents: Lets Go



Notification of
Shortlisted Schools


Lets Get Started

To get started, Simply download the relevant helpful documents below.

Stories, Videos, Online Resources, Memories and More…

2018 Judging Panel

2021 Judging Panel

Meet our Judging Panel for 2021

Why do we need randomised trials?

Dr. Allen Nsangi and Dr. Daniel Semakula on Why are randomised trials important.

START 2019

Have a look at the START awards ceremony 2019

START 2018

Check out all of the fun of our 2018 event

START 2017

Check out all of the fun of our 2017 event

START 2016

Check out all of the fun of our 2016 event

The First Randomised Clinical Trial

The First Randomised Clinical Trial

Learn more about the first Randomised Clinical Trial and Dr James Lind.


Learn more about Randomised Trials

Modern Medicine

What the Industrial Revolution Did for Us

Cloghan’s Hill National School

1st Place START Winners 2017

Scoil Moibhí

2nd Place START Winners 2017

St. Josephs NS Macroom Cork

3rd Place START Winners 2017

Learn more about START

Click here to view our Q&A webinar with Prof. Declan Devane

Extra, Extra… Read all about it…

The Irish Times

The Irish Times

Clinical trials: how oranges and lemons ensured we don’t compare apples with oranges

The Irish Times

The Irish Times

‘START’ competition lets pupils create clinical trials.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times

‘START’ competition introduces pupils to the scientific way of problem solving

Evidently Cochrane Blog 2019

School children in Ireland have run and presented their own randomised trials in the innovative START competition. Here’s what they achieved and why this matters.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times

‘START’ competition lets pupils create clinical trials.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times

‘START’ competition introduces pupils to the scientific way of problem solving

Past Events

Have a look at previous events

Click here to view the 3 shortlisted entries for 2016, 2017 & 2018. Each shortlisted school received a START trophy and attended a fun interactive day in NUI Galway to meet with people working on randomised clinical trials.

Need Support?

Talk to us today! We have a team of experienced people around the country who are very happy to help you and your class or school take part in START. We can arrange for a visit to your school or chat over the phone to help you.

Sandra Galvin
Sandra Galvin
Programme Manager HRB-TMRN and START Co-Founder
Contact Details
Phone: 091 494492
Our Volunteer
We have a number of national volunteers who can help your school take part
Carol Burke
Carol Burke
Senior Administrator
Contact Details
Phone: 091 494492

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