How Students are Changing the Future for Their Communities
Posted November 1, 2021 by Miranda Marshall
If there is one thing we all have had in common in recent times – it’s change. Around the globe, individuals, communities, and societies continue to feel the lasting impact of COVID-19 on mental, financial, and physical health, but students taking part in Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI) have met these challenges with innovative solutions that are not only changing lives for the better, but also changing the world.
The FPSPI is a dynamic international program focused on empowering students around the globe to become better creative and critical thinkers, problem solvers, and decision makers. Students can be a part of programs ranging from Global Issues Problem Solving and Community Problem Solving, to smaller scale in-classroom assignments like Scenario Performance, where they develop a story about their future projections; Scenario Writing, where they write an original work of fiction about their future projections; and Action-Based Problem Solving, where teachers work with their students to solve a creative problem.
From civic and social issues to environmental and health concerns, FPSPI participants have enacted programs and initiatives to combat the most pressing issues in their communities, and we are excited to share some of the greatest success stories from the 2021 Virtual International Conference! Read on to learn more about the ways Future Problem Solving students have changed the future.
Young Minds Making an Impact
From grades 4 to 6, Junior Division participants are the youngest FPSPI competitors, but their projects work to solve issues we all can relate to. In Australia, for example, one team founded The STRESS (Students Teaching Resilience to End Significant Stress) Project, a group that works to build resilience and coping mechanisms to better deal with stress in their school community.
Young innovators in Singapore also focused on bolstering important emotional and psychological skills in the form of empathy after they noticed that this important emotional intelligence (EQ) skill has been on the decline for over a decade. Students in Florida also helped mend loneliness among assisted living residents during the pandemic by hosting activities over Zoom with their S.M.I.L.E. (Students Making an Impact on the Lives of Elderly) program.
Beyond helping people cope with mental health issues and build more positive relationships, Future Problem Solving participants in Texas worked to:
– Address the oil industry crisis in their home state by holding a monthly farmer’s market to boost the local economy.
– Reduce school food waste by creating their own composting program!
Middle Division champions (those in grades 7 to 9) delved deep into some of the most prevalent issues in their cities, counties, and even countries. Some teams tackled COVID-19 related problems like social and educational isolation with solutions like:
– The Big Sisters program in Australia, dedicated to interacting with younger students to help their emotional well-being.
– Project Everyone in Florida, which created opportunities for all students – remote, in-person, and hybrid – to participate in the social activities that are so central to academic life.
Also in-tune with the importance of their education, Project REMOTE (Reimagining Educational and Meaningful Opportunities To Engage) in Massachusetts helped Canton learners gain access to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) resources.
Other students focused on environmental and health concerns with projects like:
– Florida’s O.C.E.A.N. (Operation Conserve Earth’s Aquatic Nature) designed to educate the community and reduce harm to aquatic ecosystems.
– Turkey’s team of “Climate Protectors”, who aimed to spread awareness of the causes and consequences of climate change.
– The “Don’t JUUL, It’s Not CUUL” project in Minnesota, which advocated for stricter regulations and more consumer education to reduce vaping among teens.
Providing Hope, Healing, and Mental Health
FPSPI competitors who gained recognition in the Senior Division, for students in grades 10 to 12, looked to improve the future by positioning individuals and their families for success.
– Project HYPE (Helping Youth Pursue Education) in California helped provide education resources to low income students in San Diego.
– BY2 Be Yourself Brand Yourself in Florida taught young people how to leverage social media for positivity and networking.
– Operation HOPE in Kentucky combatted poverty by distributing care boxes and improving agency communication.
Internationally, Project Helios in Singapore worked with Singapore Association of Mental Health to combat mental illness, and Project Integrate in Singapore improved the lives of migrant workers with virtual lessons and other resources.
However, with so much room for creative problem solving in Future Problem Solving Program International, other winners devised solutions for a wide variety of global issues.
– Project Curae in Singapore aimed to dismantle the stigma surrounding dementia.
– Project Yes, Learn! In Texas provided virtual camps during school breaks for students.
– Raising Awareness About Earthquakes in Turkey helped raise awareness for earthquake safety.
Interested in learning more about how students are changing the future through Future Problem Solving Program International? Find out how to get involved, support the mission, or use FPSPI to supplement your classroom activities here: Future Problem Solving Program International (fpspi.org)