By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie sixth-grade student Katie McBee’s problem-solving skills have earned her an opportunity to compete in international competition.
Lester Prairie Elementary Principal Pam Lukens explained that the Future Problem Solving program includes both team and individual competitions.
McBee competed as an individual against 24 other students in her division at the state competition in Roseville March 27.
She advanced to the international competition June 10-13 at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, where she will compete against students in her age group from around the world.
Lukens said Lester Prairie also sent a four-person team that included Harley Hentges, Taylor Kriz, Kendra Ziermann, and Abbi Schultz to the state competition. The team scored well, but did not advance to the international competition, Lukens said.
The Future Problem Solving program is designed to engage students from the grade 4-6 division through high school in creative thinking.
The organization was founded in 1974, by Dr. E. Paul Torrance, and offers competitions that allow academically-gifted students an opportunity to showcase their talents in much the same way as sports events showcase the talents of athletes.
Each year, more than 250,000 students from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, and Singapore participate in the program.
The components of the program include global issues problem solving, community problem solving (in which students develop an action plan), and scenario writing, (in which students create a word picture of the future).
Each year, more than 2,000 students from around the world attend the international competition.
McBee participated in the state competition last year as part of a team. This year was the first time she competed as an individual.
Lukens said the students are given a topic and have five weeks to prepare.
“Food distribution” was the topic for the state competition. The new topic McBee will need to prepare for the international competition is “green living.”
Lukens said the students need to develop 16 scenarios, and work down to one.
At the end, they have to prepare a three-to four-minute skit to “sell” their idea.
“This is a good way for students to learn problem solving,” Lukens commented. She has coached the Future Problem Solving program in Lester Prairie for eight years.
McBee is the daughter of Robert and Kathleen McBee of Lester Prairie.