Future Problem Solving team take on food waste
The Future Problem Solving (FPS) Program is recognised as one of the most challenging international thinking programs in the world. Primary and secondary schools all over Australia pit skills, brains, creative ideas and energy against each other to address futuristic problem scenarios and come up with amazing solutions. Some solutions may benefit the environment, others the welfare of people and others the directions our nation takes. We caught up with two of the four FPS team members, Jade Goktube and Jack Quinlan (Year 10), to discover more about this international education program.
When did you start preparing for FPS?
Jack: We started back in February. We looked at what the previous FPS team had done before and reviewed the processes we needed to follow. We had no idea or knowledge about FPS. We just turned up and dived straight in!
Jade: We quickly learnt that we’d have to come up with creative solutions to different global future problems. We’d have to integrate facts and our knowledge about specific topics, so thorough research and knowledge became key.
Jack: And don’t forget the strict processes we had to follow – there are six stages to problem solving we had to work through from identifying the underlying problem to applying criteria to your solution ideas. We soon realised that we’d need to meet regularly. FPS is a big commitment. Every Tuesday after school and Friday lunchtime as well we would dedicate time to research topics, work through the FPS process and look at the work past teams had done.
You had to work through three different global issue topics. The final problem was competitive and had to be completed within just two hours. Tell us about the final issue.
Jade: It was on the problem of food waste. We hadn’t looked at this in any of our practice problems, so it was completely new. When you work through any problem there are so many other issues that present themselves. For example, with food waste, deeper problems surface like global interaction and communications, what is happening in developing countries, the socioeconomics of different countries and the inconsistencies. It becomes a minefield!
Jack: It’s certainly a complicated issue with many different dimensions. There’s the issue of global aid – providing food to developing countries as well as how to distribute the food.
What solutions did you come up with?
Jade: Some of our more creative solutions were based around forms of transports like different ways to refrigerate and store food. For example, we looked at how money could be distributed more effectively if a universal fund was established. Some countries produce a lot of food, some not as much. We looked at how we could address this imbalance.
Jack: In the end we had to find a solution that could tackle the underlying problem of food waste namely how we are using resources. We created a detailed action plan to develop an enzyme that would go into the water and feed the fruit trees and vegetables. This enzyme would help prevent decay so that fruit and vegetables could be transported for longer.
What is challenging about FPS?
Jade: Managing our time. There’s a time limit and a very restrictive process – you have to follow a particular structure. You really are thrown into it. It’s hard to predict everything that is happening so it’s challenging to narrow down.
Jack: We worked out who was good at certain things and played to our strengths. For example, Brandon Ma is really good at coming up with original solutions. Jade and Gabby Taylor were great at pulling together the detailed action plan. And Jade is very artistic too so she’d work through our diagrams. I’m great at working at high speed!
What did you learn from taking part in FPS?
Jack: I’ve learnt how to deconstruct questions to help tackle problems. Also use all your knowledge. In FPS we’re encouraged to bring all our knowledge and push it through a funnel to come up with a solution.
Jade: Definitely research, being original with ideas, thinking about more unusual or more unconventional solutions to issues. When you start using all these skills it can become very empowering.
What did FPS mean to you?
Jade: It was fun – it was a really good experience. It’s so different from anything else we do at school. It helps you to think differently and come up with creative solutions.
Jack: It broadens the way you think and gives you skills you can apply for the future. It’s great being part of a team and achieving something together.
Well done to our 2019 FPS team. Central Coast Grammar School aims to tap the potential of every student and provide learning opportunities to extend and support their educational journey. Discover more about our Extension & Learning Support program.