by Cori Hilsgen
A Kennedy Community School eighth-grade future-problem-solving team placed third in its oral presentation at the state meet March 29 at Centennial Middle School in Lino Lakes.
Seventh- and eighth-grade future problem-solvers at Kennedy had three teams who competed at the meet.
Students prepared for the competition by researching and brainstorming challenges and solutions to solve problems related to the topic of “Land Transportation.” They competed in both written and oral presentation competition.
Coached by Michaelene Lucia, the students began practicing for the competition in October. Practices involved researching and discussing a current topic and listening to speakers who came to the school to discuss the topic.
Lucia said the Future Problem-Solving program offers students a chance to solve global futuristic problems in creative ways. Students are given topics such as “Land Transportation,” “Surveillance Society,” or “Ocean Soup.”
At competition, the students are given a future scene description with a problem relating to the topic. Nobody knows what the exact scenario will be until the competition, not even the coaches. Students use a six-step problem-solving process to brainstorm and find their best solution for solving the scenario. They have two hours to complete the six-step process.
“Students learn to use this process to solve problems,” Lucia said. “Not just for futuristic problems, but all problems they have and will encounter in life.”
Before going to the state meet, students competed at the district and regional meets, which were held at St. Cloud State University.
All seventh- and eighth-graders are able to participate in the Future Problem Solving program. Sixth-grade students are introduced to the problem-solving process in Lucia’s language-arts classes. It’s an extracurricular activity held after school.
This year Lucia had 18 students who competed in the program.