WILLIAMSTOWN -- A team of Pine Cobble fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students won first place in the Future Problem Solvers Massachusetts State Bowl, ranking them first in the state.
Will McDonough (fourth grade), Eric Printz (fifth grade), and Sophie Lane (sixth grade) will now attend the International Conference, in Bloomington, Ind., on June 6 to 9.
A second team, with Josh Polumbo (fourth grade), Colette Stapp (sixth grade), and Joshua Payne (sixth grade) also qualified for the State Bowl.
Future Problem Solvers (FPS) challenges students to develop real-world solutions to some of the world s most complex problems -- from human rights to environmental challenges to global economics.
To qualify for the State Bowl, teams had to tackle a problem with complex solutions during a two-hour statewide challenge, with no input from their coach.
During competition, students are presented with a hypothetical future scene; they must identify both challenges and solutions to the biggest challenge, ending with an action plan for the future government/world.
The topic for the State Bowl was ocean soup, about pollution in the seas. The International Conference will feature a competition on the topic of the global status of women.
This is the second year that Pine Cobble has had a Future Problem Solving club. The program was started in January 2012 by Sarah Dewey and Corey Baldwin when they were Pine Cobble s Williams Fellows. Dewey, now a Spanish and English faculty member, led the club this year.
Students spend weeks learning about a topic -- like trade barriers or international pharmaceutical distribution -- by defining the terms (e.g. subsidies, supply and demand, free trade) and reading articles about current events. They also spend time talking with experts about the issues that surround that topic.
I m thrilled for these students, said Dewey, who went to the international FPS championships as a child. They have been working so hard, thinking creatively and collaboratively about some of the world s most complex challenges.
There s a tremendous amount of collaboration and teamwork required for FPS, added Dewey. Students win only through compromise and working together -- something that s difficult even for most adults. I m just so proud of them.
Dewey notes that the teams were competing against much larger schools, with more established FPS programs.
FPS prepares students to face the challenges of the coming century by helping them to think critically, creatively, and collaboratively.
The program teaches elementary and secondary students to apply problem solving skills to global and community problems.
It opens doors to students imaginations, leading youngsters to discover rich and varied ways of thinking and to experience the satisfaction of resolving difficult problems with unique solutions.
Skills learned can be applied to any curriculum throughout a lifetime. By dealing with problems set in the future, students learn to deal with issues they will encounter as leaders of tomorrow.