Future Problem Solvers Make It To Internationals


Photo by Sloane Contrino

All the teams at FPS internationals gathered outside all together.

Carly Steenstra, Staff Writer

The hard work of  select future problem solvers has paid off as they competed at the International level at UMASS Amherst for five days last week. 10 future problem solvers from BHS got to experience a whirlwind of futuristic ideas, competing with students from around the globe.

Future problem solving (FPS) is one of the many clubs at BHS. It involves a combination of critical and creative thinking skills. Students compete in teams or as individuals to complete a six-step process in response to a realistic future scene based on a specific topic. People who are more interested in the written aspect of FPS can write scenario pieces. Examples of FPS topics include gamification, insects, food loss and waste, drones, missions to the moon, mars, and beyond, and much more. The competition process includes identifying challenges, developing an underlying problem , generating solutions, criteria, and writing a plan of action for the best chosen solution.

This years’ international topic was antibiotic resistance and sophomores Callie DeDecko, Laina Nickerson, Sloane Contrino and Elise Abreu placed seventh out of 48 in their senior division. 

Not only was this trip specifically geared towards solving world problems, but also to create an amusing environment for students to establish a significant collaboration with other FPS teams from all over.

“When we met people it was normally just like ‘Hey where are you from?’ and they were like ‘Nebraska’ or ‘Texas’ and we said we were from here,” said Nickerson. “We met this kid from Alaska who put on a performance for us. Our dorms were across from his so we opened our window and said hi.” 

This group of talented high schoolers witnessed what it is like to stay on a large campus and have a true college-like experience.

Coaches Christy Salley (senior division) and Debra Contrino (middle division) have run a strong program for numerous years by introducing students at a young age with FPS Gateway classes at BIS. This year was Salley’s fourteenth trip to Internationals.

“It was a joy to watch them,” said Salley. “You meet kids from all over the world, you experience college living, dorm life, and you’re challenged.”

The last two years were virtual so this was the first year back in person. However, several countries including New Zealand opted out of in-person competition, resulting in a hybrid setup in order to stay involved. 

The Barnstable team poses for a picture at internationals

Competitors were even given the opportunity to act out their action plans to a live audience and a panel of judges. Participants had many laughs as they watched entertaining skits and props to go along with them.

While at UMASS, Salley was interviewed for a YouTube channel and shared her opinion on the importance of the FPS program as a whole.

“We have really screwed up this world and look around, these are the kids who are going to solve our problems…I came back thinking there are good, smart, creative, critical thinkers out there and they’re going to fix it,” she said.