Apr 19, 2018 | By: Sarah Winkelmann

Golden Apple: Forestview Future Problem Solvers Prepare For International Competition

“Every year we win, I just still can’t believe that we are winning,” said sixth grader Samuel Simpson.

Future Problem Solvers team member Samuel is referring to the team’s back-to-back-to-back wins at state competition.

“All this hard work we have put into it and all of our practice, it just really paid off,” said sixth grader Keaton Lingenfelter.

Two teams from Forestview Middle School will be heading to International Competition in a few months, but for now, it’s time to practice.

“You really can’t just walk in to a competition with all of these notes – you have to memorize it,” said fifth grader Hannah Kurtzman.

The students start off with research to form their six steps during competition.

“How to think, not what to think,” said Sheila Johnston, the team’s coach.

After they are given a fictional future scenario, they first brainstorm challenges, find the underlying problem, create solutions, write criteria, fill in the grid and then write an action plan.

“You take your action plan and put it in a skit, you present the problem and present your solution being used in real life,” Lingenfelter said.

It’s a big task, but it’s one that seems to be effortless for this group of middle schoolers.

“Great teamwork, great coach and just overall comprehension of the process,” Simpson said.

The topics can include everything from technology to social issues, but at the international competition, they will focus on criminal justice.

“I just love competing against other teams from around the world, it’s almost like an Olympics,” Lingenfelter said.

Although they will face tough competition from around the world, their coach has faith in her team.

“These kids are just so amazing,” Johnston said. “In over 25 years of coaching, I’ve never coached a team like the sixth-grade team before.”

That’s as they will head to international competition for the third consecutive year.

“They’re just sort of seamless in their teamwork; they encourage each other, they support each other and there is no fooling around,” Johnston said.

Even though winning is fun, the real victory is the skills the students carry with them from future problem solvers.

“I kind of look at real world situations differently, and you can apply what you learned to real life situations,” said fifth grader Reese Glynn.

And that can be applied in crunch time during the competition as well.

“A rush, of like you are the one representing Brainerd,” Kurtzman said.

The two teams from Forestview Middle School will represent Minnesota at the International Competition at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on June 6-10.

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