Analyzing Innovations with the NCP Future Problem Solvers Team
By Kevin Rueda
Future Problem Solvers Program International (FPSPI or FPS) is an international competition that challenges students to explore issues and problems that may arise in the future as a result of ongoing technological advancements and innovations. Students tackle problems such as cloud storage, virtual reality, and aerospace exploration.
The competition is divided into two stages: Global Issues Problem Solving and Presentation of Action Plan. In Global Issues Problem Solving (GIPS), competitors are given a Future Scene, which is a two page document that describes a hypothetical futuristic scenario that relates to the pre-assigned topic. In the two hour competition, students must identify 16 challenges in the Future Scene, identify an underlying problem to address, brainstorm 16 solutions for their underlying problem, create criteria for their solutions, rank their solutions with their criteria, and hand write an Action Plan that highlights their highest ranking solution. Judges score students based off their creativity, effectiveness in presentation, organization, and more. The second stage, the Presentation of Action Plan, is an extension of GIPS in which competitors perform a skit or presentation revolving around their chosen solution. The oral presentation is scored based off creativity and effectiveness but does not affect scores and placements in the written competition.
Students may compete individually or in teams of four. At the Illinois State Bowl, Kate Sawin, Adv. 003, qualified for the International Competition in La-Crosse, Wisconsin, with a first place victory in the Individual Competition. In addition, the team of Albert Lee, Adv. 002, Ensar Biscevic, Adv. 005, Pooja Patel, Adv. 901, and Yanpeng Wang, Adv. 911, placed 2nd for the written team competition and advanced to the International Bowl. Through the qualification of Lee, Biscevic, Patel, and Wang to the International Competition, NCP was allowed to select up to one student to represent the school in the wildcard MAGIC round. The FPS team selected Samantha Ringor, Adv. 001, for this opportunity.
The International Bowl ran from June 7 to June 10 in La-Crosse, Wisconsin. The overarching topic was criminal justice systems and how the development of technologies has created complications and opportunities in the identification of criminals and criminal behavior. The topic explored questions and scenarios such as how the use of technology impacts the treatment of criminals, or where the line is drawn between public safety and civil liberties. The topic encompassed prison reform, the advancement of biotechnology, and more. “I learned a lot about new technology and possible technology people could be using in the future, such as predictive software…” said Ringor. “FPS gives us the chance to delve into new ideas and topics even more, especially ones that get us thinking about the future.” The International Bowl hosted students from more than 36 states and seven countries, including France, Portugal, Malaysia, Israel, and Russia. “The International competition was definitely a lot more chaotic than the State Bowl,” said Lee. “There were a lot more events going on at once, with individual teams competing for a greater variety of prizes.”
In the MAGIC round, students are randomly matched with three other teammates. The four students form a new wildcard team and compete in the written competition against other MAGIC teams. Ringor was paired with two students from the United States and a student from New Zealand. Ringor said, “It was a really interesting experience. We only had 15 minutes or so prior to the actual competition to interact and learn a little about each other… I definitely learned a lot about how to work with different people’s strengths and weaknesses on the spot.”
Unfortunately, all the NCP teams fell short from placing at the competition. However, the competitors enjoyed the experience and opportunity to interact with students from across the globe.
Sawin said, “The International Bowl is a four-day event and the competition takes up only one day. Therefore, the main purpose is really to meet new people, explore different cultures, and to learn.” Lee emphasized this sentiment, saying, “It was also just a lot more fun because we had more freedom to explore and meet other people. There's a communal aspect to it that you don't really experience in other competitions.” The Northside FPS visionaries are looking forward to the upcoming 2019 competitions, and are prepared to tackle whichever topics come their way. The student-led team meets every Wednesday and is sponsored by Mr. Jung. For students interested in joining or are looking for more information, contact Mr. Jung at firstname.lastname@example.org.