The CityU Discovery & Innovation Debating Challenge 2014 took place on November 22. The event attracted 18 secondary schools from across Hong Kong, with more than 200 students and teachers participating in an array of activities.
Things kicked off in the morning with a speech by Professor Arthur B. Ellis, CityU's provost and chair professor of chemistry. This was no ordinary speech though, as it was delivered with a bit of a twist.
Stimulating students' thinking
With the help of his colleagues in the university's college of science and engineering, Ellis shared the stage with a drone, which delivered real-time shots of the theatre projected on the screen. Ellis then challenged the students to think about how the drone could be used, and the possible obstacles it could face.
The audience was intrigued by the drone-in-theatre experience and before long found themselves having interesting discussions about it with fellow students. This allowed the students to experience first-hand the exciting Discovery-Enriched Curriculum (DEC) of CityU, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
"The purpose of the DEC is that we want every student who comes to CityU to have the chance to make an original discovery in their field. It could be a discovery, an invention or a creative project," said Ellis. He went on to cite the Antarctic expedition in which a team of CityU students trekked to the great ice-capped continent as an example.
Regarding the Discovery & Innovation Debating Challenge, Ellis believes that debating is a good way for students to master a lot of information. "Debating is very much in the spirit of the DEC, [which offers students the chance] to be imaginative," he said.
At the challenge, each participating secondary school formed a team of 10 debaters headed by a team coach. Around two weeks before the challenge, each team was given a motion. The debaters, as explained by Young Post Editor Susan Ramsay, had to make their point passionately and in a coherent manner.
Before the debate, all students got to take a look at the world-class teaching facilities at CityU. There are six colleges and schools in the university, and all of them contributed to the tour and presentation.
This gave the students a rare glimpse of university life. Additionally, there were sharing sessions hosted by the university's alumni or students, many of them speaking passionately about the unique experiences at CityU.
After that, May Liu, youth work officer at the Study Planning Centre of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, offered the audience some tips on choosing the best university major and future career in line with their interests and personality.
Later, Stan Dyer, senior adjudicator at the Hong Kong Secondary Schools Debating Competition, gave debaters valuable tips.
Everybody's a winner
When the dust finally settled, there were both winners and losers. But one still had the feeling that, in fact, everybody was a winner.
Not only did all the contestants have a chance to put their skills to the test with some of the best student debaters in the territory, they also learned from experienced adjudicators, who offered each contestant useful advice. Each student can look forward to their next debate with added confidence and experience.
Michelle Lo, from Stewards Pooi Kei College, cherished the opportunity. She was taking part in the challenge for the second time, and the group adjudicator described her as "full of charisma".
Likewise, Albert Chan from Cheung Sha Wan Catholic Secondary School enjoyed the experience and said he would certainly recommend anyone who's interested in debating to join the challenge.
Meanwhile, Mr Tam, team coach of the Hong Kong Chinese Women's Club College, said that the challenge was a great experience for the school's debating team.
"We don't focus as much on the results; we have always tried to offer competitive opportunities to different students."
He should be pleased with his team, though, as the school emerged winners in its group.