Future problem solvers work their way to nationals

Posted: Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Time is running short for the state Future Problem Solving champs from SoHi. June 5th, the team is scheduled to leave for Connecticut to participate in the International FPS competition.

After winning the state competition the team was faced with raising some $10,000 in travel expenses, but meeting the challenges of the real as well as the future world is what these kids have been doing since the 4th grade. So the FPS team of Kaitlin Vadla, Jennifer McCard, Riley Kent, Jon Gomulak, and Heidi Biggs, went about the task of seeking community support.

They made a presentation before the Soldotna City Council and were rewarded with a $500 grant in exchange for weeding city sidewalks. They enlightened Soldotna Rotarians about FPS competition by demonstrating a scenario, a fuzzy, and a skit that dramatized their solution. The club held a spontaneous auction and raised $750 dollars to help the team on their way.

Carol Histand donated an afghan quilt to be raffled off, the PTA raised $500 and Unocal Alaska chipped in $1,000. "The kids are doing great, and the community is really responding in support of the kids, but we're maybe halfway there," said FPS coach Lisa Kent. The team is planning a car wash on Memorial Day weekend, Saturday May 24th, at God Fathers Pizza in Soldotna, and the kids are offering to do any kind of odd jobs or spring-cleaning for donations.

"FPS is an academic competition for students between 4th and 12th grade where you are given a scenario that is set at least 20 years in the future and you have to come up with 16 challenges in that scenario. Then you pick the biggest challenge and write 20 solutions to that challenge. Then you pick the best action plan or solution and write that out with 4 other people in a two hour time period," explained Riley Kent, a Shoe senior, who will be returning for her 6th International FPS competition. Kent also won the individual state FPS title this year. "I've been doing FPS since the 4th grade," said Kent. Past problems have dealt with nanotechnology and DNA identification and the topic for the coming international competitions is going to be global communication.

Heidi Biggs was asked to design t-shirt for the state FPS bowl, "We're definitely geeks, that's why we love each other, but one of reasons we love FPS is because we are so challenged mentally by the process, and some times the ideas we come up with are absolutely hilarious," said Biggs. "Being stuck in a stuffy room for two hours is a lot of work, but after you get out you are so relieved that you're dealing with problems that we are all going to be facing in the next 50 years, that it makes it worthwhile," said Jon Gomulak.

Anyone interested in helping the team or getting more information can contact Lisa Kent at 262-5201, or Penny Vadla at 262-7249.

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