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Kids do their own randomised controlled trials – what did they find?

20 May 2017

Cloughan’s Hill National School Tuam Co. Galway claims first place in the HRB-TMRN START competition which is designed to increase young children’s understanding and awareness of randomised controlled trials.

The pupils set up a trial in their own school to find out whether listening to music improves our memory recall? Or are parents right and it is more of a distraction? It would seem it depends on the individual, based on the evidence they collected from the study. So freedom of choice is granted!

In second place was Scoil Mobhí, Glasnevin, Co Dublin who investigated whether interactive spelling games improve spelling and they found that interactive spelling games can improve spelling test results, and they recommend spelling games as a means for teaching young children spelling. 

In third place was St Joseph’s Primary School, Macroom, Co Cork. They wanted to find out if children concentrate more or less when they use coloured pens. They found that coloured pens help improve children’s results in English spelling tests, but less so for Irish spelling tests. They recommend that children be allowed choose what colour pens they use to do their homework. 

Speaking about the competition entries, Dr Máiread O Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board says,

‘These kids have come up with a research question, taken a scientific approach to problem solving and then reported what they found clearly. All they need to do now is influence the right people to introduce change! All the participants are quite remarkable and if the future of health research is in their hands – I am very comfortable!’

HRB TMRN Co-ordinator, Dr Sandra Galvin who created the START competition says,

“This initiative has really captured the children’s imagination and creativity but I also think we can learn so much from their approach. Trials can be complex and challenging for people to understand, and yet here we have children rising to this challenge so well. START is about breaking down the barriers in the understanding of trials, and helping people understand the power trials have to improve healthcare for all.” 

The Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) competition, is an initiative of the NUI Galway based HRB – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN), to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day on 20 May 2017.

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