Empty oceans? – our bright students explore the problem

28 September 2005

Polluted water, global warming, endangered fish species ... these are just a few of the issues the nation's top 400 problem solving students are currently exploring. They are preparing for the annual National Finals of the Macquarie Bank Future Problem Solving Program.

The students are among the brightest young thinkers from all Australian states, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, who will compete in Sydney at Loreto Normanhurst between October 14 and 16.

On the day of competition, they will be given a scenario set several decades into the future; the teams of four will be asked to identify a range of problems and solutions - all in two hours and without the use of reference material.

To be selected for the National Finals, this year's students have researched and solved futuristic problems in fields as diverse as entertainment, terrorism/security, and twenty-first century agriculture. Their finals topic, depletion of oceanic species, is equally challenging.

This innovative thinking skills program has become popular throughout Australia, and all states will send teams to the Finals. For the first time in 2005, students from Singapore will also compete, joining the Hong Kong and Malaysian teams. The winners will be invited to the International Finals at the University of Colorado next June.

Fourteen teams of Community Problem Solvers also qualified for the National Finals. They will bring to the competition projects that they have completed, identifying and solving problems in their school, local, or regional communities. This 'action arm' of the program is popular with many service groups in schools.

A further group of creative writers will compete in the futuristic short story writing branch of Future Problem Solving, Scenario Writing. A New South Wales student won the International Grand Championship in the Junior division of this contest at the University of Kentucky's June 2005 International Finals.

The International Future Problem Solving Program has been running for 30 years with approximately 250,000 students from around the world participating each year. In Australia, the program attracts 5000 students and is supported by the Macquarie Bank Foundation, which recently extended its funding for another three years.

Australia has a strong track record in the competition, with Australian teams winning three Grand Championships in their divisions at the International Finals in recent years.

Further information:

Dr Valerie Volk
Deputy National Director - MBFPSP (Australia)
Tel: 08 8376 6665

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