Got Problems?

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Susan Cheng writes, Kids solving the world’s problems.

Kids solving the world’s problems. That was the dream of E. Paul and Pansy Torrance, founders of Future Problem Solving Program (FPSP). In 1974, they created a program in which students solve the problems in our world. In FPSP, students of all ages can participate in a variety of competitions. Each participant has to study the format and the topic. I traveled to Michigan to participate in the International Conference.In the Future Problem Solvers (FPS), teams of four or less solve problems using FPS’s six step format. Next year’s topics are Sensory Overload, Invasive Species, Orphaned Children, Food Distribution, and Green Living. There are a total of five competitions. This competition is made up of three divisions. Junior (Grades 4-6), Middle (Grades 7-9), and Senior (Grades 10-12).If the team does well, they have the possibility of making it to the International Conference. This is the same, but with a twist. After the writing, teams have to present their action plan in a four-minute skit. In addition, teams are required only to use certain items to make props. Also, teams have to incorporate two mystery props and a mystery quote. This inspires creativity. These were the activities I did when my team and I represented Northridge Elementary and Colorado. I also met people from different states and countries. I also participated in the Variety Show. They also offered things like choir and newsletters.This competition is also offered to adults, alternatives (People who weren’t part of the team competition), and individuals.In addition to FPS, there are many other activities to participate in. Here is a breakdown of each. Action-based Problem Solving is a noncompetitive version of FPS and is offered to children K-9. Community Problem Solving is a program where groups of students come together to share their problem solving skills and solve a problem in their community. Scenario Writing is where students write short stories in the future about a certain topic.All of these competitions (except Action-based Problem Solving) participants are able to make it to the International Conference. This year it was at Michigan State University. Next year it will be at University of Wisconsin La Crosse.I have learned a lot about the issues around us, improved my writing, met new people, and looked at things in a different light from this program. I would rate this whole experience five out of five stars. If you are interested in any of these competitions, find more information at www.fpspi.org.

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