Only 30pc of HK can, according to a survey on our technological ignorance Hongkongers may be obsessed with hi-tech gadgetry but most have little or no understanding of simple, everyday technology. Seventy per cent cannot explain how a flashlight works; 42 per cent believe they could be electrocuted by a portable phone if it is dropped in a bathtub; and 55 per cent have no clue about how microwave ovens work. Less than half (48 per cent) can explain how phone calls connect and only 53 per cent know how an air conditioner works, according to Ken Volk, principal lecturer of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, who surveyed 750 adults in random telephone calls. Asked to assess their knowledge of technology, three out of four admitted to limited or no understanding, 22 per cent said they have some understanding and only 2 per cent claimed to have great understanding. 'Until technology education in schools moves beyond the current emphasis on just computers, many in Hong Kong will continue to have limited experience and knowledge about technology,' Dr Volk said. Women consistently scored worse than men. For example, about 65 per cent of men answered correctly about the possibility of electrocution by a portable phone, compared with 52 per cent of women; 48 per cent of men were correct about how microwave ovens work, but only 43 per cent of women. Forty per cent of men and 21 per cent of women could explain how a flashlight works; on air conditioners, it was 66 per cent of men and 43 per cent of women; on how energy is transferred into electric power, 64 per cent of men and 36 per cent of women. Despite the general level of ignorance, most believe in technology education, with 98 per cent saying it should be included in primary and secondary school curriculums. Sixty-nine per cent believe technology should be taught as a separate subject, while 31 per cent say it should be part of existing subjects such as science, maths and social studies. 'The survey points out the need for more technology education in schools,' Dr Volk said. 'Little technology [education] beyond computers is contained in primary schools, with more hands-on and interdisciplinary activity required to make both boys and girls familiar with technological applications and creative problem solving.'