Future Problem Solvers
By Abby Beddow
Many who are in academic sports can agree that they tend to be forgotten, or pushed out of the limelight for more flashy sports such as football or soccer. Although there is one sport in particular that many people do not even know exist.
When competitors talk about FPS most people think they are talking about Frames Per Second, but what it actually refers to is Future Problem Solvers. Minnesota has had the Future Problem Solvers program for thirty-eight years, yet FPS itself is a worldwide competition that includes thirty-seven U.S. states and over ten countries including Australia, New Zealand, China, and Israel.
But what is FPS? According to freshman Victoria Kurdyumov, “Future Problem Solvers is an academic competition that requires students to work in teams or individually. For the main component, we’re given a topic to research and study some future trends and potential problems. In the competition, we’re given a ‘future scene,’ and are asked to identify the underlying problem, after that we come up with solution ideas. Then we rank the solutions based on criteria and the winner is our ‘Action Plan,’ all in only two hours. Then, with some duct tape and other props, we put on a four-minute skit to advertise our final solution.”
The actual goal of the competition is to make it into the international conference (IC for short). Every year FPS teams from around the world that have earned first or second in their state competition move onto the IC competition. This means that teams from each division around the world compete against each other in order to win an international title.
One other project students can do is Community Problem Solving (CmPS). Students can form groups and find problems within their community, search for ways solve their problem and create a presentation showing their ideas. The last Centennial team that competed in the CmPS arena helped our school cut down on student stress by introducing our LEAP hour.
Although FPS is not all serious competition, as freshman Mady Ekstrom states “My favorite IC memory is the memento exchanges. We make and buy lots of items that represent Minnesota and we exchange them with people from around the world.” The Memento exchange is something every team at IC has the opportunity to participate in. Whether you want to trade a hat for a boomerang with the Australians, or a few pencils for some Turkish Delights from Turkey, you can meet wonderful new people and acquire a souvenir doing it.
While FPS may not be in the spotlight every day. It somehow brings students from elementary to senior ages from all over the world together for competition, fun, and games like no other sport can.