Just to recap, the Future Problem Solving Program focuses on the 6-step problem solving process:
First, students read a Future Scene which is a scenario that takes place in the future and revolves around a topic the students knew and researched about before the competition.
Step 1. In groups of four, the team has to pull out 16 potential problems they see that could happen in the Future Scene.
Step 2. They then have to decide which of the problems is the most impactful to the scene and also deals with the charge given to them at the end of the scenario that directs them to focus on a certain aspect of the scene usually based on the topic.
Step 3. As a team, they then have to determine 16 solutions to the underlying problem they identified in step 2.
Step 4. Criteria is laid out to help determine which solution is the best.
Step 5. The solutions are ranked based on the criteria they created.
Step 6. They write an extensive action plan about the highest ranking solution explaining in detail how the solution would work, who would do the jobs, what obstacles they may encounter, how much it would cost, etc.
This finishes the Global Issues Problem Solving portion which is the primary competition, but while the booklets are being scored, the students then prepare and put on a presentation of their action plan for their fellow competitors.
Because of my amazing students’ successes at the state competition, we qualified to travel to Michigan State University from June 2nd to June 5th to compete at the International Conference. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (though I hope we get to go again in the future!).
First, we took part in the Memento Exchange which is such a brilliant way to open up an event with attendees from around the world. During the Memento Exchange, each attendee brings items from their home town/state and exchange them with others so each person ends up with a ton of mementos from all around the world!
Then, we attended the Opening Ceremonies. There were two stand out moments during the Opening Ceremonies. First, there is a presentation of all the flags for each state, province, and country that is taking part in the conference. It is amazing to see everyone that was represented. The keynote speaker was also phenomenal! His name was Alec Manfre. Alec is from Florida and is currently a CEO of company and a Forbes 30 under 30. He is also a FPS alum. He shared some amazing advice:
Things to remember in life: Use the problem solving framework; Be a life long learner; Find your passion!
Don’t be afraid to think big! Challenge the status quo! Solve the biggest challenges!
Challenge yourself! Challenge the norm! Challenge society!
The second day was the competition portion though we wouldn’t find out the results until the final day there. However, it was also the Presentation of Action Plan which my students ROCKED! Their solution had to do with a mechanical, 3-D printed bird that stores energy from the sun, wind, and its movement then transfers it to those in need. If you want to see their skit, stop by our Facebook page and you can view it. They ended up being in the finals for the presentations which means they were in the top 14 of 70 middle division teams!
Three of my students also chose to take part in the FPS IC Choir which performed at the Variety Show. The choir, along with the variety show which featured talents from participants from all over the world, was another amazing way to showcase the variety of people taking part in IC. It is so beautiful to see people from around the world sing together. I shared a video of one of their songs on our Facebook page as well.
The last day in Michigan, we attended the award ceremony. Although this isn’t all about winning, it is about thinking and growing, award ceremonies are always so nerve-racking! I am already so proud of how far we’d gotten, and I already had a top 14 team! But we had one more surprise coming! Victoria, my 11th grade participant who has been with me from the very beginning, won first place in the Senior Division Multi-Affiliate Global Issues Competition! FIRST PLACE IN THE WORLD! I am still in awe of this! I already knew she was brilliant, but now it is recognized!
Then it was time to leave. My poor team beat them up so much for not placing, but they were competing against the best in the world, and we are going to learn so much from their booklet, Victoria’s first place booklet, and my other multi-affiliate participants booklets.
I hope that this was a trip and adventure that these students never forget because I know I won’t!