Textbooks line the tables of Kelly Chan’s Chemistry in Society classroom at CTY Bristol, but she and her classmates are too busy learning to open them.

Monday they learned about plastics and polymers. Tuesday was metals, and the class did three labs. Tomorrow they will study food science, and bags of snacks await their attention in the lab .

With engaging discussions each morning led by instructor David Shellhamer and lab experiments each afternoon, the class uses textbooks only occasionally for reference.

It’s an entirely different way of learning from the lecture and memorization approach that she’s accustomed to at her school in Hong Kong, and Kelly, 15, is thrilled .

“At first when I saw students raising their hands in class (to ask for help), I was surprised because I thought you were supposed to know the answers,” says Kelly, one of 31 students from Hong Kong who studied at CTY on scholarship this summer.

“I really came to appreciate how students are encouraged to share and discuss their
ideas and express their creativity.”

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