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Hi everyone—My name is Olivia Zhu, and I’m currently a senior at the Harker School. I was asked to talk a little about what all of my classmates right now are suffering through: those dreaded college applications. More importantly, I wanted to talk about how the Future Problem Solving Program impacted my entire high school experience.
When I first joined FPS in seventh grade, I didn’t know what a fuzzy was and I certainly didn’t know how to write a whole action plan. Looking back from where I am now, however, I realize all the little and not-so-little ways in which being a part of FPS has enriched my life.
For example, when I started high school, I decided I wanted to try out speech and debate. It’s actually really amazing how much FPS feeds into the structure of debate, and knowing the six-step process definitely helped me when I was learning how to construct an argument. Also—though I know researching air transport and genetic testing might not be the most exciting activity ever—I found out that the research and organization skills I learned from FPS made all the difference when I was starting out in debate.
And these same skills weren’t limited to debate, either. I found FPS slowly creeping in to everything I did in high school, including English and history essays. A few of the more interesting side effects of FPS were that I realized that the random facts I learned from research came in really useful during these sort of Jeopardy-style academic quiz bowl competitions. And I discovered during my modern physics class that, hey! I already knew what dark energy was because I had studied it when the team was digging into alternative energy sources.
But FPS has impacted so much more than academic side of my high school experience. It helped ease the transition to high school because I knew a few of the older students who had gone through the program, for one. The teamwork aspect of the program was a huge part of my experience as well—when I was working on a team with four people, it was always about figuring out how to delegate and work together; and in working with my school’s team, I’ve found myself figuring out the very real-world skills of sharing research, figuring out organization, and participating in discussions.
A different part of the social aspect involves a portion of the FPS competition: it’s the skit, which usually involves crazy costumes and acting. Being able to go through that process as a middle schooler helped me become way more outgoing and confident later on—maybe because I know nothing will top the embarrassment of wearing trash bag costumes before a huge audience.
I think—most importantly—FPS has helped me find my passion. As I fill out college applications, I’ve realized that FPS shows up almost everywhere. The program has become the focus of my essays and my interviews because it helped me find a focus during high school: on learning and on helping others—on solving the world’s problems and on figuring out how to work on a team.
And even though I’ll still be nervous when college decisions come out, I know one thing is for sure. Wherever I end up, I’ll still have all the skills and passions that I learned from FPS. I’ll still remember the great people I’ve met and the great mentors I’ve had. The program’s impact extends far beyond middle school, far beyond high school, and far beyond college. FPS helped me grow not only as a student, a debater, or anything else—it really just helped me grow up as a person. Thank you.
Hi. My name is Morgan and I’m an eighth grader here at the Nueva School. This is my fourth year doing Future Problem Solving.
Within a Futures Bowl, there are Six Steps. I normally write the Step Six within my team’s bowl. The Step Six is the action plan saying how you will solve the underlying problem. You must think of how to come up with the most unique, futuristic, creative, and effective solution to a problem.
As many of you may know, a few months ago, there was a massive fire burning through the city of San Bruno. This immediately caught my attention, and the first thing I thought was, “What can I do to help?” I used the basic problem-solving format that Futures has taught me – find the most persistent problem and solve it. The underlying problem was that many people had lost their homes.
To “solve” this, or at least help them, I decided to start a committee and organize fundraisers to benefit the fire victims. The committee became like a team; we brainstormed, added to each other’s ideas, and ultimately came up with group effort events. We raised $6,000 in total. I think it would be wonderful if all students in California could participate in the Future Problem Solving Program. In a world full of so many pressing issues, it is important that my generation has the skills and tools they need so that they can solve the problems. I believe Futures will give students opportunities to become accomplished problem solvers for the issues of today and tomorrow.
-from a presentation given at the 2010 Annual Fundraiser.
Participating in FPS was a good experience, because I got to see that it isn't very hard to be able to be a part of a group team and participate in something. FPS is a great way for kids, who don't really have any other activities, to be on a team and work hard towards a goal. It's nice to be a part of something bigger and be able to compete in a competition where there is a 1 st and 2nd place. Also, it's really fun to be able to travel to someplace and compete there. It gives you a sense that you can really accomplish something and reach someplace higher if you are equipped with the talent and good work ethic that's needed to succeed. And winning was good too.
- Michelle Zhang, Torrey Hills School, Junior division.
The Future Problem Solving program is really a great idea. From the first practice booklet to wherever the competition leads you, everyone who joins has fun, while learning about futuristic things that are every scientists’ dream to invent. Many people have the chance to excel, to go from the basic competition all the way to the national competition, representing their state. Even with the people who don’t have that opportunity with their first try, the saying that says to try, try again truly applies to this competition. If you keep on trying, you’ll go further every time as you get better. FPS doesn’t just teach you about problem solving, it’s another way to improve vocabulary, meet new people, and go to new places. It teaches you to be proud of your achievements but not to expect too much, and that teamwork is an important factor. FPS is a great experience that participants will remember and treasure.