SPE students earn high state honors as future problem solvers

Got a problem? Then talk to the Future Problem Solvers at Springfield Plains Elementary School, a team that can handle queries dealing with artificial intelligence to media monopolies.
All hypothetical, of course.
Four fifth graders, under the guidance of coach Sue Banworth, represented SPE at the annual Michigan Future Problem Solving Program State Bowl on March 27-28 at Eastern Michigan University. The appearance was the first for the school and resulted in a second place finish for one of the categories.
Working together for almost three months to prepare, Kristen Bland, Chris Canada, Brianne Fox and Jefferson Richards were selected from students in their talent development class.
‘It was all fun competing against others and getting far,? Richards said.
The premise of the Future Problem Solvers is simple: students are given a futuristic topic, the ‘Fuzzy Future?, and must come up with 16 creative problems that could arise. From the problem that seems to be the biggest, students then must work to come up with 16 solutions to that major problem in a detailed booklet explaining the decisions and course of action.
The team was selected to attend the state bowl at EMU after finishing first in their division within the state for their creative solution to the ‘Artificial Intelligence? scenario.
‘My mom had never been to EMU before and the first time she went there was because of her 10-year-old son,? Richards said.
At the state bowl the SPE team was given a brand new problem that had to be solved in two hours. This year’s topic was ‘Media Impact?, and a description booklet and skit were required.
‘I liked writing the booklet,? Bland said. ‘You had to concentrate hard and work with others. It was a good learning experience.?
After working in a small room where the group wasn’t allowed to interact with other teams or even their parents, they emerged with their solution to the futuristic problem. And a desire for pizza.
‘We just kept eating and working, eating and working,? Fox said. ‘It’s really hard to be in a room that long.?
The SPE team’s skit involved a life-size pretend hologram magazine the students created to represent different job openings in the future.
‘I like getting up in front of people,? Canada said. ‘It was good to see people laugh.?
The hard work paid off. While the team’s booklet did not place in the competition, the group did receive a second place medal for their original skit which had the audience laughing.
‘I liked the presentation the best,? Fox said. ‘It was one of the most fun parts.?
Banworth, the team’s coach, was extremely proud of the debut performance from her students that desperately wanted to go on to the International Bowl in Lexington, Ky.
‘I enjoyed the whole two days being there with the hard working students and parents who were involved,? Banworth said.
‘People don’t understand how hard it is,? Bland said.
Back at SPE, the Future Problem Solvers aren’t done with the hard work. As part of the talent development program they’re already working on creative programs to finish up the school year.
There’s even some thought to future career plans after the skit they performed at EMU.
Your future biomedical engineers, writers, businessmen and even basketball players just might be a former member of SPE’s Future Problem Solvers.

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