The Future Problem Solving Program is one that Illawarra Christian School has embraced over the past four years. FPS is an international educational program for students of all ages, focusing on the development of critical, creative and futuristic thinking skills.
The program challenges students to apply their minds to some of the significant issues facing the world of today and the future, equipping them with the vision, skills and tools to design and promote positive futures for the society in which they live.
Success earlier this year in Community Problem Solving in the USA…
This year we had the joy of our Year 8 team, plastICS, becoming international champions in the Community Problem Solving division in the USA. At the same time, a team of Year 6 students were diligently training for the Global Issues Problem Solving (GIPS) competition. GIPS requires thorough research into a current topic. Students then analyse a one-page future scene, which describes a situation looking at a specific area of the broader topic. This future scene is normally set about 40 years in the future. The students then write up their six-stage analysis using a special booklet proforma.
During the year teams work on three topics. This year the topics have been food toxicity, philanthrocapitalism and cloud storage. The completed booklets are mailed to evaluators who score the work and return it with both praise and suggestions for improvement. This feedback is one of the major strengths of the program, for it leads students to growth and improvement. The competition motivates the students, but learning is the ultimate goal.
…followed by success later this year in Global Issues Problem Solving
After completing and submitting their qualifying booklet, our team of four (Jayda Brain, Ava Green, Rosie Finley and Johanna Newing) qualified as the top NSW team and were invited to the National finals in Melbourne from 19-21 October 2018. Zoe Fahey and Isabella Story also made the trip as reserves, competing in their own parallel ‘MAGIC’ (Multi-Affiliate Global Issues Competitor) competition. After the two-hour booklet time, the six girls came together to develop a drama that would depict the main team’s solution.
We were full of nerves come awards ceremony time. The top three teams in the team GIPS competition are invited to represent Australia at the International Future Problem Solving Finals in the US the following June. Twelve teams from all around Australia competed for the privilege.
After announcing places sixth through to fourth, we were on the edge of our seats wondering whether the team had placed or not. Third and second places were announced and we were all shaking a little. The team could not believe their ears when it was announced that Illawarra Christian School had WON the GIPS competition. National champions!! There was much squealing and shaking as the team took to the stage to receive the perpetual shield, trophy and individual medals.
The MAGIC competition results were also announced with Zoe Fahey’s mixed team winning the reserve competitions and Isabella Story’s team coming in second. The Action Plan presentation drama also had the girls place fifth nationally.
Team to represent Australia next year in USA
And so our Future Problem Solving story continues. The team of six will now work towards representing Australia at the International finals at the University of Massachusetts in June 2019. It is such a delight and privilege to work with such self-motivated and dedicated students. I am incredibly proud of the girls and look forward to continuing to work with them and many other students. Future Problem Solving provides a wonderful platform for students to think globally, critically and laterally. It exposes them to new ideas, pushes them to find solutions and encourages action. We are charged to use our God-given gifts, talents and passions to serve others and this is a wonderful platform through which students can learn to do just that.