They’ve been back now for the best part of a month, and there’s been plenty of time to think back over the experience. We asked two students (and Mrs Simone Brown, who accompanied them) to tell us how they feel their adventure in international global problem solving has impacted them.
For me, GIPS was one of the best experiences of my life! We had so much fun traveling over to America and competing in the Global Issues Problem Solving competition. We learned so much and met so many people from all around the world.
It was a great way for us six girls to get to know each other more and we had so many funny moments that we will always remember. This competition has given us the opportunity to have experiences we would have never had, had we not put in the hard work. We didn’t give up! We had so much support from our families and our coach Mrs Brown and we are all so very thankful for this trip! I think I really do speak for us all when I say we will never forget this and we are so blessed to have been able to do this. Thanks!
Competing in America was a really great experience, as we got the opportunity to travel, explore and meet others from all over the world! We made friends from Turkey, Texas and France and got to see some of their CMPS projects, some of which have been based on their country and specific things to aid their home towns.
The competition itself was also amazing. As a MAGIC–Multi-Affiliate Global Issues Competitor (a reserve), I competed in the MAGIC competition with people from all over the world! It was a great experience, being able to see how their strategies and methods of doing GIPS in some ways differed, and in others were similar.
On the trip, we not only got to compete at UMass, but we also stayed in San Francisco for two nights and visited the Painted Ladies, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz prison. While in Boston, we also had a tour of Boston and an amazing tour of Harvard University given to us by a Harvard student. That was an amazing experience for me and the rest of the team, and definitely a highlight of the trip! America was an amazing experience that none of us will forget for a long time, and we are all thankful we had to opportunity to go there.
Mrs Simone Brown writes…
The Future Problem Solving Program has opened up the world to our students. With several divisions of the competitions focusing on various skills, developing FPS at Illawarra Christian School has been incredibly rewarding. The Global Issues Program (GIPS) is a design-thinking program. Students are exposed to a range of real-world issues. They research these issues in depth and become mini experts in the field. The topics studied by our students who have recently returned from international competition in the United States included food toxicity, philanthrocapitalism and de-extinction. Students currently working in the program have looked at drones, and food loss and waste. If our teams are invited to this year’s national finals in Brisbane, they will be examining coping with stress.
The GIPS program asks students to read a complex future scene projected up to 40 years into the future.
They need to identify and write up problems and challenges in the future scene, decide on an underlying problem and justify it using their research and information, brainstorm solutions, write criteria on which to judge their best solutions, and then write up an action plan. All this in a two hour period, with no assistance and no resources! It is a task that many adults would find very difficult but one that our students love. They work so hard to perfect the six-step process, learning teamwork, cooperation, compromise and persistence along the way.
The six girls who travelled to the US recently have worked incredibly hard for over a year to master their craft and they are still learning! Each team includes four students and each coach is permitted to take up to two extra students as MAGICS (or reserves).
Our main team of four (Jayda Brain, Johanna Newing, Ava Green and Rosie Finley) qualified for Nationals in Melbourne last October and were named national champions. This opened the privilege of representing Australia at the International FPS championship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in June. Our 2 MAGICS (Ella Story and Zoe Fahey) competed in a slightly truncated, but parallel, competition.
I am incredibly proud of our six team members. They conducted themselves beautifully throughout the trip and competed at a level none of them previously thought possible. Out of the world’s best 63 teams, our main team earned sixth place. This is an absolutely outstanding achievement and the quality of what they produced in their two hour lock down was exceptional. Our two MAGICS were teamed up with MAGICS from around the world and Ella’s team actually won that competition.
The girls also had to come together as a group of six to perform a dramatic representation of their action plan. After a few hours locked up with me and a whole lot of prop-making materials, the girls performed their drama. They won their heat and went on to achieve sixth place in the finals, again out of 63 teams.
I count it as an absolute privilege to work with our students to help develop their gifts in many areas. Future Problem Solving has been a fabulous addition to our enrichment program and one that I can see becoming part of our educational fabric for some time to come.