Future Problem Solvers compete at state; could go to international event


April 8, 2011 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 7, 2011 at 11:08 p.m.

Stroman Middle School students just about became water quality and environment experts by the time they advanced to a statewide competition Friday.

The 14-member Future Problem Solvers team headed to Austin vying for a spot at an international competition. The team's environmental project - a watershed that collects rainwater for recycling - ranked third in the state, and students hope it will advance.

"It was very, very hard work," said Kayla Hohlt, an eighth-grader on the team who helped build the project. "It was a lot of long hours on Sundays just coming here volunteering."

The group worked with the city and community volunteers to finish the project.

Students prepared for the competition by studying water quality issues around the country and the world.

"You kind of have to know what contaminants can do if they're not gotten rid of," said Lauren Williams, who's also on the team. "You have to know how everyone would be affected if the water was not cleaned right."

The purpose of the program is to get students to think creatively about environmental, economic and other complex problems that could exist in the future.

"This teaches them futuristic thinking," said Holly McCutcheon, team sponsor. "They research the past of a topic to understand what's going on in the present (and) find hypothetical intelligent ideas of what solutions could possibly be going on for the future. In 30 years, cities are going to have to rely on the individuals to help out a little bit more than they are now."

Annabell Delatorre believes the most difficult part is researching the problems and choosing the right challenge the judges would want them to address. But the fact that the problems are based on realistic issues keeps her interested.

"These challenges that we receive that are dated in the future, could actually happen sooner," she said. "When you research the topic and you begin to know more about it, you realize there's more behind the scenes and there's stuff that they don't tell you."

McCutcheon has taken the group to a state competition almost every year since 1994.

"It's a program I truly believe in," she said. "It keeps me teaching."



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