International Future Problem Solving
This article was published in Good Teacher, Term
New Zealand's representatives at the 1999 International Future
Problem Solving conference and finals, held recently in Ann Arbor,
Michigan, once again had outstanding success, including receiving
the most prestigious award ever awarded in the twenty five years
of the programme's history.
The 32 students were accompanied by their coaches and Robyn Boswell,
the Director of the New Zealand Future Problem Solving programme.
Most teams were billeted in states as diverse as Colorado, Iowa
and Connecticut on their way to the finals and had a wonderful
time with their American hosts, taking part in graduation parties
and ceremonies, meeting state governors and attending baseball
The finals were held over the weekend of the 18th June. Discovering
on arrival that the temperature at 9pm was 29 degrees C and that
many of the rooms weren't airconditioned was a bit of a shock!
Those directors who had to supervise competitions in the 'Frieze
Building' discovered that it was the only competition building
that wasn't airconditioned and the temperature that day reached
40 degrees C. The team from Alaska couldn't even believe that
such temperatures existed!
Over 2000 students from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the
United States took part in the conference. Students not only competed
in various aspects of the problem solving competitions, but were
also provided with opportunities to make friends.
At the impressive Awards Ceremony, held in a huge auditorium,New
Zealanders were in the forefront for the second year running.To
put these results in perspective, one of the American teams which
received a fourth placing had the local press waiting to greet
them when they arrived home.
Kristin School's outstanding efforts in receiving five trophies
is probably unique in the history of the programme, The results
Scenario Writing: (Students write a fifteen
hundred word futuristic scenario based on one or more of the set
topics for the year) Middle Division - Second Place - Bridgette
White, Kristin School Teams on-site Team Scenario Writing - Second
Place - Bridgette White, Kristin School
Future Problem Solving Teams Competition: (Students
work in teams of four and under a two hour time limit to work
through a six-step process based this year on the topic of Distribution
of Wealth). Birkenhead College reached the semifinals of
the Middle Division. Junior Division - Second Place - Kristin
Oral Presentations: (Students have two hour to put
together a dramatic presentation based on their action plan, developing
a set of props and costumes from a set list of materials such
as tinfoil and newspaper. They then perform their presentation).
Junior Division First Place - Kristin School; Middle Division
- First Place Birkenhead College; Third Place - St Margaret's
College; Senior Division - Second Place - Kristin School.
Community Problem Solving: (Students have worked together
for a year as a team to identify and begin to solve a problem
which exists in their own community, applying the FPS steps in
an authentic context). A team of Yr 10 students from St Cuthbert's
College tackled the difficult task of opening lines of communication
between parents and their children over the use of alcohol, These
students have put together an impressive project and fully deserved
their first placing.
The icing on the cake, however was the awarding of the prestigious
new Beyonder Award to this St Cuthbert's team of remarkable young
women, known as 'Femetraj'.
Dr.E Paul Torrance, the founder of the FPS Program, is now 83
years old. During his research on creativity and persons with
creative potential, Dr. Torrance coined the term "Beyonder" to
describe people or groups of people that "outdistance the others
so far that they are not even on the same scale"- and can't rejudged
on the same scale, as the depth and passion of their work cannot
be assessed by standard criteria. These are the difference makers,
the ultra-achievers of our society - those whose accomplishments
go beyond all expectations.
The new E.Paul Torrance Beyonder Award will be awarded each year
to a special team which demonstrates these Beyonder traits; a
team that not only goes above and beyond what is expected of them
but whose project would have a lasting impact and outreach in
the community, long after the students had moved on. This is certainly
the case with the Femetraj project. The team developed a Party
Pact, held an Alcohol and Drug Seminar, made a submission to a
select committee in Parliament, created a website, and developed
the prototype of an Educational Kit which they hope to have distributed
to be used as part of the High School Health Curriculum throughout
New Zealand. The project was also seen to have international potential.
New Zealand can be well proud of the achievements of the bright
young minds who take part in this programme and of the education
system which has developed their skills to this high level of