Calling all Irish Primary Schools – can your school rise to the START Challenge?

We look forward to welcoming you all to apply for START 2023.

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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!

START 2023
START 2023
START 2023
notification of shortlisted schools
START 2023


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.

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

How this competition can help meet key aspects of the current school’s curriculum:

Maths: Students will need to collect and analyse data in order to see the effects of their intervention. This will mean comparing the results of two groups of participants that are involved to see differences in their effects.

Science: A clinical trial, like any scientific experiment, requires participants to stick to a defined set of rules and procedures in order to get the best results. The project also teaches children the foundation processes around where evidence for healthcare decisions are made.

Social, Personal & Health Education (SPHE): The START competition will help students question the choices they make around their own health and wellbeing and create a sense of personal responsibility for the everyday decisions they make. By working in a team, as a class or as a school, the students will be able to see each other’s strengths in delivering such a project.

English / Irish: The students will be challenged to explain the project to those involved; this may mean younger pupils or family members or the wider community. The final presentation of the project findings will require students to compile the findings in a clear and concise way.

Visual arts: There are no restrictions in the format for which the findings can be presented. Students are encouraged to be creative and use any format they wish.

Information & communication technology (ICT): The project will require research by the students to understand the processes involved. A wide range of online resources will be made available to students. Students can also use technology to present their work

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 21nd 2023.

Shortlisted entries will be invited to join the HRB-TMRN in NUI Galway on 19th May 2023, where the top 3 schools will win a crystal trophy and will participate in an awards ceremony.

The HRB-TMRN will cover all travel expenses for attending the ceremony and lunch will be provided on the day. Students will enjoy a series of educational, interactive, fun workshops and learn more about clinical research.

Lets Get Started >

To get started, Simply download the relevant helpful documents below.
schools invitation letter
competition rules

2023 START Full Brochure

How START supports the school’s curriculum


Additional Learning Resource: Interactive STARTER Game


Can you help the Trialists win against the Chancers using your science skills? Play the STARTER game to find out.

News & Events

2023 judging panel

Check back to meet our Judging Panel for 2023.

The First Randomised Clinical Trial
Learn more about the first Randomised Clinical Trial and Dr James Lind.
Evidently Cochrane

Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START). Can understanding trials really be child’s play?

The Irish Times
Clinical trials: how oranges and lemons ensured we don’t compare apples with oranges.
The Irish Times
‘START’ competition lets pupils create clinical trials.
The Irish Times
‘START’ competition introduces pupils to the scientific way of problem solving.
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2022 Videos

Check out all of the fun of our 2017 event.
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2019 Videos

Check out all of the fun of our 2019 event.

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2018 Videos

Check out all of the fun of our 2018 event.

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?

Contact one of START Clinical Trial Ambassadors who are happy to help you with any queries.
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