No Ceiling Project pushes the limit - students who are strangers work together to do good

By Ariel Conant

Teams from different schools brave difficulties to come up with community-friendly projects

By Ariel Conant |

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(From left) WIS students Martin Lee-Paterson and Sam Lam, and Sha Tin College's Raymond Chen, give their presentation.

Team projects can be tough, even if your teammates are your friends. Imagine how much more difficult such assignments would be if your teammates didn't even go to the same school.

The students taking part in English Schools Foundation's No Ceiling Project had only four weeks to create and complete their project. They had to get to know their teammates quickly, and overcome the typical obstacles that come with a team project, as well as issues that arise when your teammates are spread out all across Hong Kong.

The No Ceiling Project brought together 27 gifted students from King George V School (KGV), Renaissance College, Sha Tin College, and West Island School (WIS). Students were separated into teams based on their interests, and were asked to come up with projects that would have an impact on the community.

WIS student, Archita Maheshwari, 14, wanted to do something about food. She was paired with two students from Sha Tin College, and another schoolmate from WIS. The team wanted to create a blog featuring simple recipes, as well as food science, to raise awareness of a healthy lifestyle. But getting their site up and running wasn't as easy as they thought it would be.

"The biggest challenge during the project was coordinating with each other as we had such little time," Archita explains. "We only had four meetings; the first one was the formation of the groups, the next two were practical meetings where we were able to work together, and the last was the presentation preparation." In the end, Archita's team managed to put together four dishes on the website.

KGV's Maisha Maryam, 13, agrees that coordinating within the groups was tough. Maisha's team, which included six other students from KGV, WIS and Sha Tin College, produced a film comparing private and public housing in Hong Kong. "Communication was the biggest challenge," Maisha says. "We were in separate schools and it was hard to collaborate but we managed."

Anthony Chen Hao-ting and Raymond Chen Hao-lun, 12-year-old twins from Sha Tin College, joined forces with students from KGV and WIS. The all-boy team focused on the practical applications of ferrofluids, which are used in cutting-edge technology. "Ferrofluids are liquids that have tiny iron particles inside and react when a magnetic force is applied," Anthony explains.

"In the presence of a magnet, they spike up as they are magnetically attracted to it." Ferrofluids have been used in space exploration, and medical and engineering fields.

The group set out to make their own ferrofluid, and the No Ceiling Project offered resources and support along the way. "We were provided with a lot of useful resources, including substances like iron oxide, paraffin oil and olive oil, to experiment with, and a laboratory in which we conducted our experiment," says Raymond.

Each team received guidance depending on their project. With all the cooking and preparation needed for their website, Archita's team was grateful for the support. "Being the food group, we were provided with cooking space, ingredients, useful feedback from our peers, and constant advice and support from our teachers to improve our project," says Archita.

The four weeks may be over, but it's only the start for some projects. "Over the course of four weeks, we tried to accomplish as much as we could but our final outcome is still incomplete," Archita explains. "Therefore, we decided that we could work on this over summer or the other people in our group can continue it next year with the new students joining the No Ceiling Project."