Problem solvers

Students with posters and onlookers fill the gym space in the Recreational Eagle Center

Students participating in the 2017 Future Problem Solving Program International event gather at the Recreational Eagle Center.

Students from 18 countries tackle local, global issues June 6-10 at UWL

More than 2,000 students and coaches will be working to solve community and worldwide problems during the 2018 Future Problem Solving Program International Conference June 6-10 at UW-La Crosse. Students from 18 different countries, in grades 4-12, will compete as they tackle complex problems. The four-day event includes presentations, skits, writing and more. The general public is encouraged to attend student presentations throughout the competition, which showcase students’ creative and critical thinking skills.

“These young people are going to be our future leaders,” says Cheryl Whitesitt, executive director of Minnesota Future Problem Solving. “Through this competition, they are experiencing the rigor and learning the skills that they’ll need to be good leaders. In fact, many of them are making changes in their communities through these projects already.”

Students at the conference will tackle both local problems from communities where they live, as well as global issues. The topic of “Criminal Justice Systems” will become central to participants competing in the “global-issues problem solving” event. Performers in the “scenario performance” portion of the conference will also use the topic when telling a futuristic story based on “Criminal Justice Systems.” Participants in scenario writing event will also use “Criminal Justice Systems” as the topic when writing a futuristic, 1,500-word story.

According to the Future Problem Solving International Program website, “A one-size fits all Criminal Justice System does not exist, as laws and norms are influenced by country, culture, history and religion. New technology has created both challenges and opportunities for criminal justice systems, especially since a variety of online activities that constitute crime and a new means of analyzing evidence are in place. Virtually every new technology is likely to be used against the public at some time in the future.

As law enforcement agencies develop new ways of identifying criminals and criminal behavior, where should the line be drawn between public safety and civil liberties? How will automated systems, robocops, and crime-predicting software shape the monitoring or detainment of convicted individuals? What might future courtrooms look like? Under what circumstances or guidelines should legal software programs and predictive coding be used as part of a criminal justice system?” These are just a few of the questions that students will be tackling.

Events the general public is welcome to attend:

Friday, June 8

  • The Scenario Performance (story telling) Live Competition, will take place from 2-4:30 p.m. and again from 6-9:15 p.m. in the Mitchell Hall Gymnasium. Scenario Performances are each five minutes long so the public can enter/exit in between performances throughout the afternoon or evening.
  • The first round of presentations related to teams’ plan of action developed during the written component of the competition will be from 3-5 p.m., in 18 rooms across campus. Check in at “Problem Solving Central” in UWL’s Student Union main floor lobby to find room locations.
  • The Community Problem Solving (CmPS) Fair will run from 7:30-9:30 p.m., at the Recreational Eagle Center. Team and Individual presentations will occur at this time. Learn more.

Saturday, June 9

  • Presentation of action plan finals will be from 9-11 a.m. at various locations. The Junior Division, grades 4-6, will be in the UWL Student Union Ballrooms 2110, 2120, 2130; Middle Division, grades 7-9, will be in the Mitchell Hall Fieldhouse; Senior Division, grades 10-12, will be in Hesprich Auditorium, Graff Main Hall.
  • Scenario Writing champion presentations (reading of scenarios) will be from 4-4:45 p.m., in Hesprich Auditorium, Graff Main Hall.
  • Presentation of Action Plan Awards & Variety Show, 6:45-8:45 p.m., in Mitchell Hall Gymnasium

Sunday, June 11

  • Award ceremony, 8:45-11:30 a.m., in Mitchell Hall Gymnasium.