This story prepared from information provided by Shannon Hong, grade 10, director of public relations for FPS, and contributed to by Cyrus Merrill, MS FPS Coach.
In late April, more than 40 middle and high school students from Harker’s Future Problem Solving chapter traveled to compete in Laguna Niguel at St. Anne’s School, where they collected seven out of 18 possible top three awards.
The California State FPS Championship is a two-day conference and competition where students dissect potential future problems – in this case, land-transportation issues set in a likely even more densely crowded future urban world – and find creative solutions for these problems. Fourteen Harker teams and two individuals qualified for the event. Of those, six teams collected the aforementioned awards and two teams qualified for the international finals in mid-June, held in Ames, Iowa.
Earning first place in Written Packet Competition and qualifying for internationals in the senior division (grades 10-12) were of Nikhil Dilip, grade 12, and Shannon Hong, Emily Pan and Karen Tu, all grade 10. They all qualified to travel to Iowa for the international event.
Earning first place in the presentation of action plan competition, senior division, and each qualifying to the international event as alternates or part of another team, were Tiara Bhatacharya, Juhi Muthal, Madhu Nori and Sindhu Ravuri, all grade 11. First place in the junior divisions (grades 1-6) was won by Nakul Bajaj, Rakesh Nori, Arun Sundaresan, Jin Tuan and Sriya Prathuri, all grade 6.
Second place honors in the Written Competition were earned by the middle division (grades 7-9) team of Sneha Bhetanabhotla, Neymika Jain, Angela Kim and Evani Radiya-Dixit, all grade 9; and by the junior division team of Christina Bettink, Alyssa Huang, Aditi Khanna and Amla Rashingkar, all grade 6. This team also qualified for the international finals where they will compete with teams from almost every state and from 8 or 9 different countries. Tuan, named above, will also attend and compete at the international event as an individual.
“This year was my first FPS State Bowl. I had so much fun. It was both educational and entertaining. My team and I won second place, which made me a very happy person. I can’t wait to go again next year!” said Rashingkar.
Third Place in the presentation of action plan competition was earned by the senior division team of Dilip, Hong, Pan and Tu. Harker’s middle division team of Trisha Dwivedi, May Gao and Alexis Gauba, all grade 9, also garnered third place.
Kudos also go out to 10th grader Sahana Narayanan who was third place in scenario writing and to 8th grade middle school competitors Jessica Wang, Stephanie Swanson, and Meghana Karinthi who finished in the top 5 in the middle division and who narrowly missed out on qualifying for internationals themselves. Finally, 6th graders Jin Tuan, Arun Sundaresan, Rakesh Nori, Nakul Bajaj and Sriya Prathuri placed first in the presentation of their action plan at the state bowl.
“I loved the whole experience, from eating pizza with the team to performing outside for the parents; it was a rewarding weekend,” enthused Tu.
“California FPS is really a great community and I love meeting all of the new people, from the cute fifth graders to the seniors. Everybody had amazing ideas for the future; we’re living in an age of innovation, and I’m so excited to see what everyone will do!” said Hong.
In the FPS process, students are given a future scene scenario (or as team members like to call it, “the fuzzy”) and must identify 16 problems, select what they think is the major issue, find multiple solutions, then write an action plan – a detailed explanation of how the solution solves the identified problem. Students are then scored on articulation, relevance to the topic and creativity.
Another component of the competition is the skit, or action plan presentation, in which students come up with an engaging way to depict their plans for the general audience, using regular household items, paper towels, aluminum foil, magazines, construction paper and the like to create costumes and props. Students are then scored based on their ability to describe their plan and how it will work and go into effect, their creativity, their use of props and their presentation as a whole.
At the start of the competition, the teams were separated into rooms for the written portion of the competition, followed by lunch. Next, students participated in a teambuilding activity of creating cars made of dry pasta noodles. The future problem solvers were separated into groups of five with members in two divisions and schools.
In the afternoon, the action plan presentation preparation started. Magazines and paper towels flew around the courtyard as students hastily created monocles, magazine skirts and even the odd Marilyn Monroe outfit. The first round of skit presentation began. Later in the day, the affiliate director announced all skits that made it to finals. Six Harker teams, two in each division, were able to compete in finals. At the end of the day, Harker students were able to let loose and relax by neon bowling.
The next day at the closing ceremony, each team that made it to finals performed white being judged by a panel of FPS board members. The affiliate director then announced all the winners for all categories, making a fun and eventful weekend for the Harker Future Problem Solvers.
About The Harker School FPS
Harker FPS is a student-run chapter of California’s Future Problem Solving program, with more than 20 teams and 15 individual competitors from grades 6 to 12. Harker sends more than 40 students to the annual state bowl competition each April, the most in California. In addition, Harker usually sends one to two teams to the annual international conference, allowing the students to broaden their perspectives through competition with winning teams from all over the world. Students may compete individually or in teams of four or by participating in scenario writing.
The teams are coached by history teacher Cyrus Merrill and upper school librarian Meredith Cranston. “We are especially proud of our program that places a great deal of emphasis on the high school students mentoring and training the middle school students themselves,” noted Merrill. “This has been a big part of our program and it is great to see the high school students as excited as the younger teams when the younger ones they trained and coached do well or succeed. Go Harker FPS!”