Problem solvers earn international recognition

LEWISTOWN – Four Mifflin County youth have added one more trophy to their collection.

The Future Problem Solving team of Lucy Crawford, Jensen Graham, Paige Stewart and Grace Wagner recently earned fifth place at the FPS 2013 International Conference Program held June 6 to 9 at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Ind.

The girls said their win ranks them among participants in 13 countries, 40 states and only 3 percent of FPS students worldwide.

This year, they studied the global status of women, spending several weeks researching social, political, health, economic and technical issues facing women worldwide.

Crawford said the future scene presented to them involved an international teleconference about women’s rights. In the end, she said men still had a biased view of women’s capabilities.

She said the team used a six-step problem-solving formula to develop a solution for the problem. The Mifflin County team decided to create virtual reality headsets to give men an understanding of “a day in the life of women,” she explained.

The first half of the competition asked teams to record their problem and solution in writing. After that, they presented their findings in the form of a skit.

This is the fifth year the team has competed together, but the first year they did all the work on their own. Graham said FPS is no longer a school-sponsored activity. They have only been able to compete through generous donations by the community, Stewart added.

Studying and preparing for the conference was a challenge this year since everything had to be done outside of school, they said. Between school, band and choir, girl scouts and sports, the girls had only a few short weeks to prepare.

On top of that, it was their first time competing in the senior division of Global Problem Solving. Crawford said the team feared that they may not stand a chance against older competitors.

When they were called to the stage as top 10 finalists and then fifth place winners, coach and parent Amy Graham said they ran all the way from the balcony to the stage. They were the only Pennsylvania team to place this year at the international competition.

“Thank you to our sponsors,” Stewart said on behalf of the team.

They also thank Jack Anderson, MCSD gifted students instructor and former FPS coach, for what he taught them over the years. Because of his instruction, Crawford said the team has grown to the point where they can handle competition on their own.

In previous years, Crawford, Graham, Stewart and Wagner placed second and third in the middle division. As they advance into their junior year of high school, the girls say they plan to remain members of FPS.