All Middle Schools Advance to State Future Problem Solving Bowl

Educators in Action

All four of our middle schools sent teams to the state Future Problem Solving Bowl in Stanwood, Wash. on April 16.

In the junior division (sixth-graders), a Fairhaven team took second place in team awards for best presentation. Three Fairhaven teams scored in the top ten for test/write, and one team was only points away from qualifying for the international competition in Iowa.

In the middle division (seventh and eighth graders), a Fairhaven team took first place overall in skits or intermediate best presentation. Three teams from Bellingham scored in the top ten for test/write including two Fairhaven teams and one Whatcom team.

“Everyone returned very tired, but also very excited about the opportunity they had and the work they completed,” said coach and Fairhaven teacher Melissa Cornelsen. “It is an experience they will never forget!”

The Future Problem Solving (FPS) program revolves around grouping like-learners together and challenging them with complex problems. Students are challenged to analyze scenarios from multiple perspectives, explore their curiosities, and make connections to the local and larger global community.  FPS is a program that encourages and develops thinking skills to adapt to a changing world through the six step process.

The six steps are 1) identifying challenges; 2) selecting an underlying problem; 3) producing solution ideas; 4) generating and selecting criteria; 5) applying criteria; and 6) developing an action plan.

The program runs September through April. From September to December,  and teams participate in two practice “writes” or tests that are evaluated by the state panel. Then, in February, teams complete the state qualifying test or “write”. Based on the evaluations of this test by the state panel, teams either qualify or do not qualify for the State Bowl. The final test was at the State Bowl on Thursday, April 16 in Stanwood.

Bellingham had 18 teams qualify: 13 teams from Fairhaven, one team from Kulshan, two teams from Shuksan, and two teams from Whatcom.

Cornelsen said it takes a One Schoolhouse Approach to bring the program to life in our middle schools.

“We had six coaches participate in quarterly work sessions to collaborate and share strategies in providing this curriculum to students across the district,” said Cornelsen.  “We are traveling to the state bowl as a districtwide team, all with a unifying t-shirt and in support of one another. We are so excited that every Bellingham middle school is going to be represented at the state bowl this year! This is proof of the power of the One Schoolhouse Approach!”

Watch the Intermediate Best Presentation featuring Fairhaven students, Gracey Henoch, Frannie Flemming, Anna Miller and Elena Wolgamot. 

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