Victory On the Horizon for NCP Future Problem Solving Team
by Israel Gomez
While many mere mortals dwell on issues of the present, the visionaries of NCP’s Future Problem Solving team dedicate their time to combating conflicts of the future. After crushing the competition at the Illinois State Bowl in early April, the NCP Future Problem Solving team will compete at Internationals this June.
Future Problem Solving is an international problem solving competition for elementary and high school students. Teams are comprised of three to four students in three different divisions: junior, middle, and senior. Every competition has different topics of problems given to teams. For example, the Illinois State Bowl’s topic was cloud storage, and the topic for Internationals will be the criminal justice system.
There are different types of competitions at each event: written, oral, which includes a skit, and individual competition. At the State Bowl, NCP’s FPS team, sponsored by Mr. Jung and coached by Ms. Grace Sawin, took home prizes for 2nd, 3rd, and 6th for the oral competition. The team of Albert Lee, Adv. 002, Ensar Biscevic, Adv. 005, Pooja Patel Adv. 901, and Yanpeng Wang, Adv. 911, placed 2nd at the State Bowl for the written team competition, and will represent NCP at Internationals alongside Kate Sawin, Adv. 003, who placed first for individual competition.
Many things factored into the team’s victory at State. According to Wang, “I think a big part of why we did well was our group dynamic. We worked really well together and had good communication.” The written portion can pose a challenge to unprepared teams. However, the team’s superb organizational skills helped lead them to victory. Wang said, “Right before the written portion of the competition, we summarized what we learned from our research, discussing potential challenges and solutions that we could include. We also assigned each person a role so that during the competition, we were each doing things we were good at, which worked out perfectly because we didn’t really have overlapping skills.”
Participating in Future Problem Solving competitions is an enriching experience for participants. Patel said, “It’s a really great way to learn more about topics you otherwise wouldn’t hear about, and you also get a chance to hang out with friends. I feel like I mainly really enjoy getting an in-depth knowledge of a ton of really interesting topics. The topics that are picked are generally pretty broad, so there’s a chance to hit basically any interest you have, whether it be in science, the social sciences, the arts, and really anything else.”
Thanks to the broad range of topics participants tackle in FPS, it is truly a program for everyone. Patel, who intends to pursue a major related to government and political science, finds the competitions particularly beneficial. She said, “For every single competition, I get opportunities to learn more about different pieces of legislation which I really like.” For students who want to get experience brainstorming policies, FPS is the place to be.
Although they will still face their fair share of challenges, the future looks good for NCP’s Future Problem Solving team. Wang said, “I think the biggest challenge for us might be the skit. We really have to stand out and be creative, which is pretty difficult considering the little time we’re given and the teams we’re competing against.” The HoofBeat hopes the NCP FPS team can tap into their magic once again and be victorious. Internationals begin on June 6 and end on June 10, and will take place at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.