FPS to explore interstellar concerns at conference

Alice Yu

[dropcap size=”5″]F[/dropcap]or the first time in the 40 years history of the Future Problem Solving International Conference, students here will be in attendance as part of a team along with Hickman and Battle students.

The founder of FPSIC, Dr. Ellis Paul Torrance, created this organization in 1972 with the vision of stimulating “critical and creative thinking skills and encouraging students to develop a vision for the future,” according to its literature. The three components of the conference are Global Issues Problem Solving Team and Individual, Community Problem Solving Team and Individual and Scenario Writing.

Sophomore Stephanie Kang and freshman Dzung Nguyen along with Hickman sophomores Sherry Xie and Amanda Sun were part of a team to place first in Global Issues Problem Solving and first in Community Problem Solving, qualifying them for FPS Internationals, hosted by Iowa State University from June 12-15.

In the Global Issues Problem Solving Team event, groups of four receive a scenario that the world might experience in the future, for example, crop production worldwide. From there on, students must come up with an underlying problem and come up with 16 possible solutions, Kang said. Then, they develop one of their 16 solutions into a policy that provides an plan of action to combat the underlying problem.

For the Community Problem Solving Team event, groups must find a problem in their own community, rather than a problem of a scenario provided, Kang said. They must also find 16 possible solutions and develop one into a plan of action. Last year, students from West and Oakland Junior High Schools decided to find a way to increase creativity in the community for the Community Problem Solving Team event at FPSIC.

The third event, scenario writing, involves writing a future scene related to a given topic.

“It can be however you want it,” Kang, a second-year FPSIC participant, said. “You just write about it.”

With the 2014 FPSIC topic as space, situations regarding funding for space exploration, the extent of human impact and possible outer-world settlements are questions for consideration for the three competitions.

This four-day conference not only creates creative atmosphere, but also brings students from all across the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Turkey and the United Kingdom together to generate collaboration between students from different cultures.

“You’re meeting international people, and it’s so cool to meet people from around the world,” Kang said. “It’s kind of like the Olympics for problem solving.”    

This international conference will also provide an avenue for students to expand Project C.R.E.A.T.E.

“I think in the next couple of years we’re going to see [Project C.R.E.A.T.E.] explode on a global scale because it is a really, really great tool to use in the classroom and I think a lot of people don’t take advantage of it because it’s just not well-known,” first-time attendee sophomore Katherine Matteson said. “Right now, we’re just trying to spread it throughout our high schools here in Columbia, and I think sooner; it’s going to go global, and it’s going to be amazing to see what happens.”

Also in charge of raising funds for Project C.R.E.A.T.E. as well as funds for the international conference, Matteson was more involved in the business aspect of FPS which still helped provided a chance for life skills to develop.

“I learned communication skills and how to present ideas to businesses and really promote asking for funds,” Matteson said. “It was really, really good to work on those communication skills because they’re really important in the world that we live in.”

But the focus of the International Conference isn’t solely on getting first place or polishing life skills; rather, it’s the valuable experiences it offers.

“The beauty of this event is that the competition actually takes a back seat to the camaraderie and collaboration that occurs when you put like-minded creative problem solvers together in the same environment,” FPS teacher sponsor Matt Leuchtmann said. “They’ll establish a social network that will last a lifetime.”
By: Alice Yu
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