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Future Problem Solvers — a challenging program for grades 4-12

It’s often been said that today’s school environment focuses too much on forced memorization of facts at the expense of teaching children the skills of analysis, synthesis, critical thinking and communication.

Whether you believe that or not, it’s certainly true that kids can benefit from more practice in these areas of complex problem solving. That’s the emphasis of the Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI), a competitive program for students in grades 4-12.

In Future Problem Solving, children focus in on one of several problems, all of which reflect real-world issues of today, or realistic scenarios that could emerge in the future. For example, topics might include aspects of ecology, medicine, social problems, crime or technology.

The kids conduct research, develop a list of problems and possible solutions, apply criteria to choose the best solution, and develop an action plan for their scenario. Teams write reports, which they submit to evaluators for review. The teams with the best work are invited to in-person competitions.

Generally, students participate in teams of up to four kids. The competition has three divisions: junior (grades 4-6), middle (7-9) and senior (10-12). Some competitive parts of the program will allow entries by individual students. A team can be affiliated with a school, but doesn’t have to be.

FPSP also includes a non-competitive program called Action Based Problem Solving. This is open to children in grades K-9, and allows teams of any size, which means it can be done as a classroom activity.

Registration is now open for Georgia FPSP. The Georgia affiliate will offer training for coaches in September.

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