Future Problem Solving Program International

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Future Problem Solving Program International- (FPSPI), formerly known as the Future Problem Solving Program (FPSP), aims to "engage students in creative problem solving". Founded by Dr. Ellis Paul Torrance in 1974, FPSPI was created to stimulate critical and creative thinking skills and to encourage students to develop a vision for the future. FPSPI features curricular and co-curricular competitive, as well as non-competitive, activities in creative problem solving. The Future Problem Solving Program International involves over 250,000 students annually from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Portugal, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Great Britain, Turkey, India and the United States.

Future Problem Solving Process[edit]

The Future Problem Solving (FPS) Process is used in all competitions except the Scenario Writing competitions. The six steps of the process are as follows:

  1. Finding Challenges/Problems: Find possible problems within the given Future Scene.
  2. Select an Underlying Problem: Determine the most important or consequential problem.
  3. Solutions: Brainstorm solutions to solve the Underlying Problem.
  4. Generate/Select Criteria: Write 5 criteria by which to judge the solutions.
  5. Apply Criteria to Solutions (Grid): Judge the solutions with the criteria, and determine which solution is the best overall.
  6. Action Plan: The highest-scoring (best) solution, as determined by the Grid (step 5), is elaborated into a detailed plan for the implementation of that solution.

Types of Competition[edit]

There are several different types of competition within the Future Problem Solving (FPS) program, the most popular of which is the Team Global Issues Problem Solving Competition.

Team Global Issues Problem Solving[edit]

Teams in this competition are composed of no more than 4 members. Each team can compete in one of the competition divisions. Teams compete by analyzing the provided Future Scene and completing their written "packet" or "booklet. The Future Scene is a one-page written scenario in an imagined future based on the current topic. Competitors find potential problems in the future scene based on logic and their topic research preparation. Each packet contains space for 16 challenges, an underlying problem, 16 solutions, 5 criteria, an evaluation grid, and an action plan. Each team, regardless of the division, has two hours to complete these steps in the qualifying, state, and international competitions.

Each year there are two practice problems, one qualifying problem, an affiliate level competition, and an international competition. Depending on the size of the FPSPI affiliate in that state or nation, the top 1 to 3 teams from the affiliate level receive the opportunity to compete at the International Conference. The competitors at the international level represent the top 1% of teams from around the world.

Individual Global Issues Problem Solving[edit]

Individual competitions are similar to team competitions, except that only one competitor completes a packet. Individual competitors can complete a maximum of 8 challenges and solutions per packet.

Individual competition levels are the same as team competition levels.

Multi-Affiliate Global Issues Problem Solving[edit]

When a team is selected to go to the international competition (and some affiliate bowls) they are allowed to bring up to two alternate competitors in case members of the winning team are unable to compete. If the alternates are not needed, they may compete in the alternate competition. This is the same as the team competition except all teams of four are created with alternates from various affiliates who have not worked together before.

Presentation of Action Plan Competition[edit]

In some levels of competition, teams compete in Presentation of Action Plan competitions, whereby they act out a short play based on their Action Plan. Individuals and Alternates from the same school can help teams in their division (or a higher division) perform a skit. Whether or not a Presentation of Action Plan competition is held at the Qualifying Problem or Affiliate levels depends on the FPSPI affiliate. Presentations are always performed at the International Conference.

Adult Competition[edit]

The Adult competition is completed at the International level(and may be completed at the Affiliate level if the FPSPI affiliate chooses to do so) and is intended for adults who accompany students to the International Conference. Like Alternates, adult competitors are randomly assigned into teams in order to complete a packet.

Scenario Writing Competition[edit]

A Scenario is a short story set at least 20 years in the future. Scenarios must be under 1500 words and must be based on one of the year's competition topics. Unlike many other FPSPI competitions, Scenario Writing competitions are not timed. They are completed at the student's home or school and then mailed in for evaluation.

There are two levels of the Scenario Writing competition: the Affiliate Level and the International Conference. The first place Affiliate Level winner in each division is invited to the International Conference. The scenarios that win first, second, and third at the Affiliate Level will be sent on to the International level for evaluation.

If a scenario places within the top five at the International level, the writer will be invited to the IC if they have not already qualified for an invitation through other competitions.

Onsite Scenario Writing Competition[edit]

Competitors of the Scenario Writing competition who are invited to the International Conference can complete in the Onsite Scenario Writing competition. Competitors are randomly grouped into teams of four.

Each team member is given a copy of the same Future Scene used in the other competitions. Each team member picks an aspect of the Future Scene on which to write a scenario. Two hours are given to complete the competition.

Community Problem Solving Competition[edit]

Community Problem Solving (CmPS) is a component of the FPSP that encourages students to identify and solve problems in their own community using the FPS Process. CmPS teams use the six step process to solve problems they see in their community. They compete at two levels, geographical origin and internationals. They are graded on two things, their six-page addendum which is a type of formal scrap book and a six-page report which has everything in writing of what they have done. At Internationals the CmPS groups have a total of three and a half hours to make a board on spot and also have to go through a half-hour interview with a judge.

At FPSPI 2008, Team "Read A Book, Live A Life" from Hwa Chong Institution became the first ever team from Singapore to have won the grand championship with their work towards the autism community. In 2009, a team from Pecatonica, WI won the overall competition with a project called "DRIVE" which focused on student driving. In 2010, a team from Palm Coast, FL, won the E. Paul Torrance award (Beyonder Award) with a project called "Faces of Autism" which addressed the transition program for individuals with autism while creating a documentary, garden, and visiting various classes to educate students. In 2011, The CmPS Team from Casa Grande, Arizona, took home the Grand Champion title for their project "SOS (Saving Our School)", which addressed the students' failing school status by improving resources and access to the library, improving the transition of eighth graders to high school, forming community partnerships, earmarking funds for scholarships and improving the general appearance of the school facility itself. In 2013, Project W.I.S.H. from Raffles Girls' School (Secondary) became the second team from Singapore to win the title of Middle Division Grand Champions, with their work towards helping children in urban communities to interact with nature meaningfully.

Individual Community Problem Solving Competition[edit]

There is a variation of the CmPS designed for individual competitors.

Competition Divisions[edit]

Competition in the Future Problem Solving Program is divided into three divisions. These divisions are universal across all FPSPI competitions.

  • Junior: Grades 4–6
  • Middle: Grades 7–9
  • Senior: Grades 10–12

Levels of Competition[edit]

There are three levels of FPSPI competition. Not all levels are used in all competition types.[1]

  • Qualifying Problem (also known as the Regional Competition or the QP)
  • Affiliate Level (also known as the National Finals or State Bowl)
  • International Conference (IC): held for competitors who have been invited to compete at the International level. (Qualification typically involves placing in the top few positions at the Affiliate level.) The IC is typically held in late May or early June. A new location of the Conference is chosen every two years. The location of the 2014 and 2015 competitions is Iowa State University. The location of the 2012 and 2013 competitions was Indiana University Bloomington The location for the 2010 and 2011 competitions was University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Michigan State University was the selected location for 2008 and 2009.

Competition Topics[edit]

Each FPSPI competition is oriented around a topic selected from the school year's topic list. The topic list is developed based on votes from FPSPI students and coaches.


The current topics for the 2015–2016 school year are[2]

Treatment of Animals[edit]

Farmers, pet and animal owners, and scientific researchers have many different ways of treating animals in their care. Fewer than 30% of countries have animal welfare laws, and existing laws are not always enforced. Researchers assert that it is important to be able to use animals in research to test drugs and new medical procedures that can help both people and animals. Sometimes endangered animals are kept in captivity at a high cost in order to protect their limited populations. Animal shelters are often filled with feral animals or those that have been abandoned by their owners. Wild animals in many parts of the world come into conflict with human activity.

In the future, how might research impact human understanding and treatment of animals? Are zoos useful educational tools or unethical exhibitions? Are certain animals entitled to more rights than others based on cultural or intelligence differences? How can humans be better stewards in the treatment of animals? Who decides the appropriate treatment of animals and their role in society?

Disappearing Languages[edit]

Language is the soul of a culture. The survival of a culture may depend on the language used for rituals and to describe cultural ideas, beliefs, and understandings. What is the impact on culture when its language disappears? By some estimates, of the six thousand languages left on Earth, 90% are expected to disappear or be endangered before the end of this century. In New Zealand, government and community initiatives are trying to revive the language of indigenous people, but even so it is in a precarious state. Many indigenous peoples around the globe don’t have support to prevent their language from disappearing. Will anyone be able to read the rich literature embodied in the disappearing languages in the years to come? What oral traditions will be lost? What responsibilities, if any, do governments, institutions, and communities have towards preserving endangered languages?

Recovering From Natural Disasters[edit]

Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters are big news when they occur. Front-page news and internet feeds bring us the details of staggering statistics and images of loss of life and property. Recovery work such as rebuilding homes, infrastructure, and businesses go on even when the news moves on to the next big story. The human factor such as recovery from emotional, mental, and physical stress is a painful and difficult journey for survivors of natural disasters, often taking many years after the disaster strikes. A disaster recovery plan (DRP) often proves inadequate especially since it is often developed only after a disaster. Government agencies, insurance companies, charitable organizations, celebrities, and individual volunteers respond with immediate help, but long-term support can be difficult to sustain. How can relief efforts be best utilized, coordinated, and sustained to assist survivors? How can the people, communities, and countries that are affected by a disaster begin to recover from their losses and cope with their changed lives? How will the impact on psychological and physical health be managed?

The Global Workplace[edit]

The world today is increasingly interdependent with the advent of interconnectedness. The internet brings individuals living in diverse places together for innovative opportunities in global collaboration. Physical space may no longer define a workplace. Many local and international corporations are able to employ people without them having to step out of their homes or countries. Developed countries outsource jobs to other countries where labor may be cheaper and labor laws less regulated. How might a more global workplace affect local and national economies? Some firms downsize their workforce in favor of automated systems that require less human input. These changes create a pool of workers who, besides being out of work, are often unprepared for other jobs. How might employers develop innovative ways to work globally? Is the growing trend of working globally online benefiting current workplace trends? How might this affect the world economy? What economic or educational changes might better prepare governments, businesses, and workers for a global workplace?


















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