In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI) hosted the World Solutions Challenge, a unique problem-solving competition that engaged students from across the globe. The Challenge, centered around the prominent topic of artificial intelligence (AI), inspired students to develop an array of creative solutions aimed at addressing critical issues within this rapidly evolving field.

This in-demand program completely sold out, receiving a staggering 95 entries from locations spanning the United States, as well as other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates—an incredible turnout that truly showcased the global impact of FPSPI and their World Solutions Challenge.

During the World Solutions Challenge, participants ranging from grades 5 through 9, had to immerse themselves in the world of artificial intelligence and devise inventive solutions to some of its core shortcomings. The competition unfolded over a rigorous two-week period, during which students delved into research and writing, showcasing their critical thinking skills. The ideas that these students came up with are a true testament to the power of future generations to tackle the difficult problems we’re grappling with today as technology continues to advance.

Securing the top spot in the competition was Sierra E, a one-student team from California, whose solution stood out for its thoroughness and practicality. Sierra crafted a “Source Facts” sheet, a tool designed to assess the credibility of AI-generated information in internet searches. This approach not only highlighted Sierra’s acute understanding of the challenges posed by AI but also made us think more deeply about the importance of critical evaluation in an era dominated by digital information.

The second-place award went to a team from New York, comprised of Rachel C, William L, and Arsal M. Their solution, titled “PROTECT AI Toggle,” focused on enhancing the pillars of P- Privacy, R – Responsive, O – Operational, T – Technology, E – Ensuring, C – Customer, T – Trust. This comprehensive approach demonstrated a holistic understanding of the multifaceted issues surrounding AI, showcasing the team’s dedication to creating a well-rounded solution.

Rounding off the top three were Abby A, Jonna G, Sage M, and Julia W from Washington, whose “Truthfinder” tackled the challenge of improving the reliability of AI-generated search results. By focusing on increasing the amount of trustworthy information retrieved by AI, this team showcased a commitment to ensuring that technology serves as a reliable ally in our quest for information.

To provide a glimpse into the hard work and creative solutions developed by all the participants in the World Solutions Challenge, we encourage you to check out this highlight reel video featuring student work. We’re sure you’ll be amazed by their dedication and brilliance—we sure were!

As Future Problem Solving continues to empower young minds with programs designed to encourage creativity and problem-solving skills, don’t miss your chance to take advantage of their amazing offerings. Whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent at any grade level around the world, there are so many opportunities to get involved! From global issues and community challenges, to scenario writing and performances, FPSPI provides a platform for students to hone cross-curricular skills while making a positive impact on the world.

Join us in celebrating the success of the World Solutions Challenge winners and be inspired to explore the limitless possibilities that FPSPI offers. Visit https://www.fpspi.org/ to learn more about FPSPI’s programs and discover how you or your student(s) can be a part of shaping the future through innovative problem-solving.

From solving complex algebra problems to investigating scientific theories, to making inferences about written texts, problem-solving is central to every subject explored in school. Even beyond the classroom, problem-solving is ranked among the most important skills for students to demonstrate on their resumes, with 82.9% of employers considering it a highly valued attribute. On an even broader scale, students who learn how to apply their problem-solving skills to the issues they notice in their communities – or even globally –  have the tools they need to change the future and leave a lasting impact on the world around them.

Problem-solving can be taught in any content area and can even combine cross-curricular concepts to connect learning from all subjects. On top of building transferrable skills for higher education and beyond, read on to learn more about five amazing benefits students will gain from the inclusion of problem-based learning in their education:

 

  1. Problem-solving is inherently student-centered.

Student-centered learning refers to methods of teaching that recognize and cater to students’ individual needs. Students learn at varying paces, have their own unique strengths, and even further, have their own interests and motivations – and a student-centered approach recognizes this diversity within classrooms by giving students some degree of control over their learning and making them active participants in the learning process.

Incorporating problem-solving into your curriculum is a great way to make learning more student-centered, as it requires students to engage with topics by asking questions and thinking critically about explanations and solutions, rather than expecting them to absorb information in a lecture format or through wrote memorization.

 

  1. Increases confidence and achievement across all school subjects.

As with any skill, the more students practice problem-solving, the more comfortable they become with the type of critical and analytical thinking that will carry over into other areas of their academic careers. By learning how to approach concepts they are unfamiliar with or questions they do not know the answers to, students develop a greater sense of self-confidence in their ability to apply problem-solving techniques to other subject areas, and even outside of school in their day-to-day lives.

The goal in teaching problem-solving is for it to become second nature, and for students to routinely express their curiosity, explore innovative solutions, and analyze the world around them to draw their own conclusions.

 

  1. Encourages collaboration and teamwork.

Since problem-solving often involves working cooperatively in teams, students build a number of important interpersonal skills alongside problem-solving skills. Effective teamwork requires clear communication, a sense of personal responsibility, empathy and understanding for teammates, and goal setting and organization – all of which are important throughout higher education and in the workplace as well.

 

  1. Increases metacognitive skills.

Metacognition is often described as “thinking about thinking” because it refers to a person’s ability to analyze and understand their own thought processes. When making decisions, metacognition allows problem-solvers to consider the outcomes of multiple plans of action and determine which one will yield the best results.

Higher metacognitive skills have also widely been linked to improved learning outcomes and improved studying strategies. Metacognitive students are able to reflect on their learning experiences to understand themselves and the world around them better.

 

  1. Helps with long-term knowledge retention.

Students who learn problem-solving skills may see an improved ability to retain and recall information. Specifically, being asked to explain how they reached their conclusions at the time of learning, by sharing their ideas and facts they have researched, helps reinforce their understanding of the subject matter.

Problem-solving scenarios in which students participate in small-group discussions can be especially beneficial, as this discussion gives students the opportunity to both ask and answer questions about the new concepts they’re exploring.

 

At all grade levels, students can see tremendous gains in their academic performance and emotional intelligence when problem-solving is thoughtfully planned into their learning.

Interested in helping your students build problem-solving skills, but aren’t sure where to start? Future Problem Solving Problem International (FPSPI) is an amazing academic competition for students of all ages, all around the world, that includes helpful resources for educators to implement in their own classrooms!

Learn more about this year’s competition season from this recorded webinar:    https://youtu.be/AbeKQ8_Sm8U and/or email april@fpspi.org to get started!

If there is one thing we all have had in common in recent times – it’s change. Around the globe, individuals, communities, and societies continue to feel the lasting impact of COVID-19 on mental, financial, and physical health, but students taking part in Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI) have met these challenges with innovative solutions that are not only changing lives for the better, but also changing the world.

The FPSPI is a dynamic international program focused on empowering students around the globe to become better creative and critical thinkers, problem solvers, and decision makers. Students can be a part of programs ranging from Global Issues Problem Solving and Community Problem Solving, to smaller scale in-classroom assignments like Scenario Performance, where they develop a story about their future projections; Scenario Writing, where they write an original work of fiction about their future projections; and Action-Based Problem Solving, where teachers work with their students to solve a creative problem.

From civic and social issues to environmental and health concerns, FPSPI participants have enacted programs and initiatives to combat the most pressing issues in their communities, and we are excited to share some of the greatest success stories from the 2021 Virtual International Conference! Read on to learn more about the ways Future Problem Solving students have changed the future.

 

Young Minds Making an Impact

From grades 4 to 6, Junior Division participants are the youngest FPSPI competitors, but their projects work to solve issues we all can relate to. In Australia, for example, one team founded The STRESS (Students Teaching Resilience to End Significant Stress) Project, a group that works to build resilience and coping mechanisms to better deal with stress in their school community.

Young innovators in Singapore also focused on bolstering important emotional and psychological skills in the form of empathy after they noticed that this important emotional intelligence (EQ) skill has been on the decline for over a decade. Students in Florida also helped mend loneliness among assisted living residents during the pandemic by hosting activities over Zoom with their S.M.I.L.E. (Students Making an Impact on the Lives of Elderly) program.

Beyond helping people cope with mental health issues and build more positive relationships, Future Problem Solving participants in Texas worked to:

– Address the oil industry crisis in their home state by holding a monthly farmer’s market to boost the local economy.

– Reduce school food waste by creating their own composting program!

Local Heroes

Middle Division champions (those in grades 7 to 9) delved deep into some of the most prevalent issues in their cities, counties, and even countries. Some teams tackled COVID-19 related problems like social and educational isolation with solutions like:

– The Big Sisters program in Australia, dedicated to interacting with younger students to help their emotional well-being.

Project Everyone in Florida, which created opportunities for all students – remote, in-person, and hybrid – to participate in the social activities that are so central to academic life.

Also in-tune with the importance of their education, Project REMOTE (Reimagining Educational and Meaningful Opportunities To Engage) in Massachusetts helped Canton learners gain access to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) resources.

Other students focused on environmental and health concerns with projects like:

– Florida’s O.C.E.A.N. (Operation Conserve Earth’s Aquatic Nature) designed to educate the community and reduce harm to aquatic ecosystems.

– Turkey’s team of “Climate Protectors”, who aimed to spread awareness of the causes and consequences of climate change.

– The “Don’t JUUL, It’s Not CUUL” project in Minnesota, which advocated for stricter regulations and more consumer education to reduce vaping among teens.

Providing Hope, Healing, and Mental Health

FPSPI competitors who gained recognition in the Senior Division, for students in grades 10 to 12, looked to improve the future by positioning individuals and their families for success.

Project HYPE (Helping Youth Pursue Education) in California helped provide education resources to low income students in San Diego.

BY2 Be Yourself Brand Yourself in Florida taught young people how to leverage social media for positivity and networking.

Operation HOPE in Kentucky combatted poverty by distributing care boxes and improving agency communication.

Internationally, Project Helios in Singapore worked with Singapore Association of Mental Health to combat mental illness, and Project Integrate in Singapore improved the lives of migrant workers with virtual lessons and other resources.

However, with so much room for creative problem solving in Future Problem Solving Program International, other winners devised solutions for a wide variety of global issues.

– Project Curae in Singapore aimed to dismantle the stigma surrounding dementia.

Project Yes, Learn! In Texas provided virtual camps during school breaks for students.

Raising Awareness About Earthquakes in Turkey helped raise awareness for earthquake safety.

 

Interested in learning more about how students are changing the future through Future Problem Solving Program International? Find out how to get involved, support the mission, or use FPSPI to supplement your classroom activities here: Future Problem Solving Program International (fpspi.org)

 

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “problem-solving”? Maybe it brings to mind troubleshooting a design issue or managing a crisis during a group project. Perhaps you think of word problems about two trains leaving different stations at the same time.

The truth is that problem-solving isn’t merely a task; it’s a skill that proves invaluable in every career path. As a 21st Century Skill, problem-solving is at the core of college readiness and workforce development. The ability to analyze situations and implement innovative and creative solutions is a much sought after skill in the fastest-growing job sectors, from tech and informatics to sustainable development and healthcare.

Problem-solving is an especially vital skill for the upcoming generation, with global issues like infectious disease outbreaks, climate change, limited resources for a growing population, and ethical tech ever-present in the lives of students. Despite its growing importance, many students don’t have the opportunity in school to learn or develop their problem-solving skills.

April Michele, Executive Director, shares her passion for the importance of problem solving “When students apply their problem solving skills to futuristic or local topics they are experiencing real life application of vital skills.  They practice the process many times during their experiences in FPS – on topics such as drones, wearable technology, recycling in their schools, helping elders with technology, and the list goes on.  Each time they work through a problem, the process becomes embedded in their personal toolbox, empowering them with a process for whatever problems they encounter in their lives.  I feel secure knowing that FPSers are prepared as the leaders for our future!”

Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI) offers students just such an opportunity.  The international program empowers students to learn the problem-solving process and use their creativity, critical thinking, and analytical skills to solve some of the most pressing global issues. Open to students, the academic competition has three divisions: Junior (grades 4-6), Middle (grades 7-9), and Senior (grades 10-12).

FPSPI has four different ways for students to start solving problems:

  • Global Issues Problem Solving – In this team or individual competition, students research a series of topics related to global issues and use a six-step creative problem-solving process to develop solutions and present a plan of action
  • Community Problem Solving – In this team or individual competition, students propose solutions to problems in their own communities using a six-step creative problem-solving process. Then the students TAKE action to enact positive change.
  • Scenario Writing – In this individual competition, students write a futuristic short story based on 1 of 5 Future Problem Solving topics.
  • Scenario Performance –  In this individual competition, students develop and perform an oral story based on 1 of 5 Future Problem Solving topics.

Problem-Solving in the Classroom and Virtually

If you’re interested in bringing problem-solving into the classroom, FPSPI also offers a non-competitive Action-based Problem Solving resource. The curriculum is designed to introduce primary students to the creative problem-solving process through hands-on activities.

Future Problem Solving has partnered with Renzulli Learning to offer virtual opportunities.  The content is designed to be a virtual offering for students to explore lessons, activities, and the six-step process.  This is not a substitute for registering for official participation within local affiliates which is where the official Future Scenes, competitive experiences, and authentic assessment and feedback are provided.

For more information about problem-solving and FPSPI, visit www.fpspi.org.