Do you know why people enjoy reading ghost stories and Harry Potter ? Why Bruce Lee became a legend and hip-hop is so popular in Hong Kong? Or do you know how to make a robot that waters the plants for you? The students at Sacred Heart Canossian College have the answers to these and other fascinating questions. Recognising the inadequacy of textbooks and regular classes in turning students into insightful scholars and inventors, the college launched an intensive cross-curriculum project-based learning programme for Form One to Three students. First launched in 2000, this year's theme was cultural subjects and mathematics. Different forms were assigned different research approaches. Form One students focused on surveying, Form Two students did case studies, and their more senior counterparts concentrated on robotics. 'Learning beyond the classroom is important,' said Lucilla Yip Chau-yee, Senior English Department head and leader of the project-based support team. 'Project-based learning equips students with social skills and enables them to better deal with sophisticated information technology. It is also an opportunity for teachers to improve their skills in organising and explaining materials to students.' All projects were presented in English, but Mrs Yip said she was not looking for perfect presentations. She believes teachers should only play an advisory role and allow students to identify what is best for them, and take the initiative to raise their own standards. To help students put their scientific theories into practise, the school invested $30,000 in a robot competition, which required participants to write their own computer programmes and build their own unique Lego robots. The competition featured four events including line tracing, robot shooting, robot adventure and an open category where students could show off their talents in designing other functions of their own robots. 'The whole concept is about control,' said Woo King-yan, the teacher in charge of the robotics project. 'While computer classes are about using Web designs, animation and database management, this robotics competition is about controlling technology which is impossible to experience in class.' Although the students had to stay after school every day for two hours of extra computer lessons for three consecutive months, they enjoyed the hard work. 'It's exciting to have challenges,' said Tsang So-man, who, together with her five teammates, created three robots and a water sprinkler. 'Although we had numerous failures and were on the verge of giving up, we quickly regrouped ourselves because it's a competition and we didn't want to lose face,' she said.