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Photo by Sally-Ann Goodman

Future Problem Solving

William Wray —

Best in the World!

After placing first in last year’s Future Problem Solving National Finals, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the 2019 Future Problem Solving International Conference (which incorporated the international finals) for the second time. The conference, which brought together over 2500 of the world’s best problem solvers, took place at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, USA in early June.

Future Problem Solving is an internationally recognised program, which through its various facets encourages participants to think analytically, creatively and futuristically about issues which range from having local to global significance. This year’s competition revolved around the topic of ‘De-extinction’. After its announcement in early March, I spent three months researching with a group of students from five Christchurch schools to upskill on the topic. This research stretched across a vast range of issues, from the scientific roadblocks stopping the physical resurrection of extinct species, to the moral hazards de-extinction proposes in regards to undermining conservation efforts. In the two-hour competition, the hypothetical scenario we faced revolved around the concerns of various groups regarding a UN-led program which was using de-extinction as a means of restoring lost biodiversity in the wake of the anthropocene. Inside this time frame, I identified challenges, generated potential solutions and developed an action plan to improve the integration of these new species with current ecosystems and their organisms.

Much to my surprise, I placed 1st in the Global Issues Problem Solving Middle Individual division. Congratulations also to Francie Liebert whose team placed third in the Junior On-site Scenario Writing competition, Thea Rose Wilcocks whose Senario written last year placed 3rd in the Junior division and E Wen Wong who competed in the Senior Global Issues Team competition.

My time away at the International Conference provided a fantastic opportunity to form connections and friendships with fellow problem-solvers in New Zealand and abroad. The skills I have gained from my time overseas return me to school with a developed creative mindset that is applicable in a wide range of contexts. In conjunction to this, I now feel empowered to share these skills with others, in and outside of Future Problem Solving.