Teachers at a local secondary school have devised an ingenious way of getting more boys to take home economics classes. They have designed an information technology course around an 'intelligent' apartment which they built in the home economics room as part of a $700,000 Quality Education Fund project started two years ago. 'We have had a lot more boys sign up for home economics this year,' said Kum Lai-yi, a home economics and computer studies teacher at Carmel Divine Grace Foundation Secondary School, Tseung Kwan O. 'For the first time we have as many boys as girls in this class.' The apartment consists of a living room and a kitchen plus more than twenty PCs used for learning about the application of computer technology in matters domestic. 'The students learn how to create software that can control the air-conditioner, manage humidity and home security,' said Ms Kum. 'They learn how to work online with a system that turns on and off electrical appliances such as the microwave, coffee machine and water heater.' The immediate benefit was that Form One to Three students have the opportunity to work in a live-action environment, said Ms Kum, who set up the project with fellow IT teacher Kwok Wing-yin. 'The students need visual stimulation. They see how what they study at school can be relevant to the home,' she said. One of the collaborators, Peter Tang Siu-sing, senior lecturer in the engineering department at Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, Tsing Yi, said the project also promoted energy conservation. 'We show students how to use sensors to monitor and filter air-quality in the home,' said Mr Tang. 'It's a great way for students to see ideas put into practice in an environment they are familiar with.' The school presents its project at the teachers' sharing day today.