FPS Launch introduces students to problem-solving process


Olivia Xu

Christy Ma (9) and Leana Zhou (9) participate in an activity at the Future Problem Solvers launch on Sept. 17. At the event, the upper school FPS club introduced their central problem-solving process in different activities.

by Olivia Xu, Humans of Harker Managing Editor

Imagine a world where small artificial intelligence-powered robots can instantly destroy weeds and fertilize plants and farmers can trace apples to their roots through edible tags imprinted in the fruits. This is the world that students explored and analyzed at the first annual Future Problem Solving (FPS) Launch.

Over 20 students attended FPS Launch, an event introducing the goals and activities of the FPS Club, on Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Nichols Atrium. New and returning members of the club in eighth, ninth and 10th grade learned about the club’s central problem-solving process through participating in a simplified version of the Global Issues Problem Solving (GIPS) competition.

“Throughout the day, I walked around and was trying to engage with [the students],” FPS Co-President Ashley Ma (12) said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect because I wasn’t sure which people had done FPS before and which people were new, but the experience of going through all of the activities together was really good for bonding and experiencing FPS in general.”

FPS officers first introduced the four components of FPS — GIPS, Community Problem Solving (CmPS), Scenario Writing and Scenario Performance — and the six-step FPS problem solving process.

“At first, it seemed like a lot of information being thrown at me,” attendee Nicholas Knauer (8) said. “Eventually, it makes complete sense when you start doing it and you have the advice of people that have done it for multiple years.”

Next, students and officers split into groups and simulated the GIPS competition: each group read a future scenario about food waste in 2040, identified issues concerning topics such as physical health and environment and brainstormed futuristic solutions to solve the challenges.

Attendees of the Future Problem Solvers launch on Sept. 17 work together on an activity simulating the GIPS competition. Each group read a future scenario about food waste in 2040 and rehearsed skits about a potential solution, using cardboard boxes and other materials as props.

“I learned to look at a problem in many different ways,” attendee Aashvi Ravi (9) said. “Although we were only able to make eight challenges, I learned to look at a problem [from] different perspectives. It taught me to have a more open mind.”

In their groups, students then started to outline and rehearse skits to act out one of their solutions. Using materials such as magazines and cardboard boxes, students constructed costumes and props. After around an hour of preparation, groups presented their skits in the Nichols auditorium, showcasing their creativity through costumes and jokes weaved into their script, while FPS officers evaluated the attendees’ skits. Aashvi, Spencer Chang (9), Ishan Mysore (9) and FPS Co-President Elect Ritu Belani (11) won first place.

“My favorite part was making the skit summary [and] planning out the skit, because from the beginning, I didn’t think we would make a really funny skit, but it somehow managed to work out,” Aashvi said.

Following skit performances, former FPS presidents Meghana Karinthi (‘18) and Rohan Thakur (‘22) shared the lessons, advice and perspectives they took away from FPS through a virtual speaker panel.

“[Meghana and Rohan] gave some incredible advice,” FPS Co-Secretary Saanvi Bhargava (10) said. “I really loved hearing what they had to say, especially Meghana, because she’s already in the work field. Everything she said was super valuable.”

Saanvi and FPS Co-Lower School Coordinator Anika Pallapothu (10) came up with the idea of hosting FPS Launch a year ago with the goal of encouraging more participation in the club. Drawing inspiration from other popular clubs, Saanvi and Anika developed their activity ideas throughout the year. 

Through introductory events such FPS Launch and regular club meetings throughout the school year, the FPS officer team hopes to increase involvement in the campus-wide club especially at the upper school.

“As president this year, I want to make FPS more open to new people, especially at the high school,” Ashley said. “A lot of students think that joining FPS is too difficult, so I hope that we can make FPS more accessible and have more of a campus-wide presence.”