A Recap of The International Conference for the Future Problem Solving Program International

 In Academic Coaches Conference, Academic Competitions, Graduation rate, Pathways, Student Programs

  We just spent a week in Amherst, Massachusetts, witnessing the International Conference of the Future Problem Solving Program International.  What an amazing group of students from all over the world! And what an opportunity for the students of Indiana to learn and demonstrate the Four C’s:  Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Collaboration! But there is so much more to the International Competition than just the problem solving itself.  Students who earn their way to IC have the opportunity to stay on a university campus, and meet and interact with students from 14 different countries.  A tradition at IC is the memento exchange where students barter with students from all over the world, trading items specific to their own region for ones from around the world.  It is common to see a middle school student from China haggling with an elementary student from Kentucky over a Kentucky Derby horse head hat, and then turn around and see an inflatable flamingo from Florida around the waist of a kid from Turkey.  Another tradition is the variety show where students can only participate if they have members in their act from more than one affiliate.  This program truly fosters not only critical thinking and collaboration , but friendships among people from incredibly diverse backgrounds.  

Students from Zionsville High School, Burris Lab School, and Evansville Day school represented Indiana in this international competition and pitted their problem solving skills against the best students in grades 4-12 in the world.  All of these students had learned and applied a 6 step problem solving process to their challenges, and then demonstrated their knowledge in a variety of ways.  

There are 4 main components of Future Problem Solving:

  1.  Global Issues Problem Solving (GIPS):  Throughout the competition year, students researched four different topics, and then a fifth for the International Competitions and learned all they could about such diverse subjects as Coping with Stress, Food Loss and Waste, Drones, a Mission to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond, and De-Extinction.  At each competition they are presented with a scenario of a situation on the topic set in the future.  Teams of up to 4 students  have 2 hours to work their way through the 6 step problem-solving process and create an action plan to solve a problem which they identified within the scenario.  At State and International Bowls, they will also then be creative and write and perform a skit to present their action plan to judges.  This event has 4-person team and individual categories, as well as a category called MAGIC (Multi-Affiliate Global Issues Contest) in which individuals can compete with a team made up of students from all over the United States and the world who meet at the table for the first time when they are competing.  
  2. Community Problem Solving (CmPS):  Students use the 6 step problem solving process to address real problems in their own communities.  Throughout the year they work through the process in a practical way to make a real difference by solving problems in their own communities.  At the State Bowl and International Bowl they present their results to the judges and the audience at a Community Problem Solving Fair.  
  3. Scenario Writing (SW):  Students who are creative writers can take the research from one of the four problems presented during the year, and create their own scenario set in the future.  
  4. Scenario Performance (SP):    Creative writing and acting/storytelling skills are on show here for students who not only want to write but perform their scenarios.  

How can you get involved in Future Problem Solving?  Encourage your school to JOIN DSP and field a team this coming year!  

For more information, check out our Future Problem Solving page!

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