Galway schools top the boards in national science competition

Cormac Dunleavy from Claregalway Educate Together, Co. Galway. ?Photo Credit: Aengus McMahon

Three Galway schools have topped the leader boards at a national science competition aimed at promoting the importance of randomised trials.

The Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) is held every year, with this year’s best randomised trials awarded the START Trophy 2022.

This year, the top three are all from Galway, with their success and their trial questions celebrated at a special event at NUI Galway.

The three Galway primary schools, and the questions they have set out to answer, are:

  • Scoil Bhríge agus Bhreandáin Naofa, Corrandulla, Galway
    • Do 5-minute movement breaks between subjects help improve concentration?
  • Gaelscoil Dara, Renmore, Co. Galway:
    • An bhfoghlaimíonn páistí níos fearr ó mhúinteoir ná ó chéile? Do children learn better from a teacher or from each other?
  • Claregalway Educate Together, Claregalway, Co. Galway
    • Does 5 minutes of exercise help children focus for a test compared to children who do not exercise

The START competition encourages children to learn more about healthcare decisions and how we can improve health and wellbeing by learning about randomised trials.

Sometimes called clinical trials, randomised trials are a type of research study often used to find out if a new medicine or treatment works.

The decision about which treatment a person gets is decided at random (often by a computer) rather than being decided by the doctor or research participant.

As part of this competition primary schools were invited to create their very own fun randomised trial, with the top three brought on campus to celebrate their achievements and explain some of their work.

Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, head of the Health Research Board, said that the children at these three schools came up with fascination questions.

“The curiosity and creativity of their bright young minds perfectly captures the essence of the START competition. I really look forward to seeing the answers their randomised trials deliver.”

“However, I do not envy the judging panel as it will be extremely difficult choosing a winner! The best of luck to all finalists from everyone at the HRB.”

The competition is run by the Health Research Board-Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TRMN), which is a network of five university partners.

Along with NUI Galway, the others involved are University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the University of Limerick.

Prof Declan Devane of NUI Galway said that the goal of the competition is to raise awareness of the importance of these trials, but also to “harness the creativity and imagination of children” in creating them.