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Problem solvers win international opportunity



22 MF-TeamDwinners-667A young group of outside-the-box thinkers is heading to America next year after becoming national champions in a competition designed to extend thinking and take on complex problem solving issues.

Year 8 Mangawhai Beach School (MBS) students – Ruby Judson, Sophie Lambert, Michael Lynch, Jack Brooks and Tatiana Chan-Chui, also known as ‘Team Diversity’ – won the national ‘Future Problem Solving Competition’ (FPSC) on November 2 and 3, after competing against schools from around New Zealand with their topic ‘How do we connect people in Mangawhai so that we break stereotypes in our community and celebrate diversity?' 

The band of 12 and 13-year-olds will head to Boston in June 2020 for the international final which draws 2,500 champions from around 23,000 competitors in 13 different countries.

Under the guidance of former MBS teacher Cate Campbell and mentor and former FPSC competitor Brooklyn Wilson, the team have been working on the theme for most of the year and recently presented their in-depth research to the community at the Historical Village Church on October 29 and November 13. 

The teams ideas and message on how to embrace diversity is set to go nationwide as the group is now extending their work and developing child-friendly ‘strength cards’ to use in school workshops. Each card will have a ‘QR code’, linked to a website the team is also developing, which celebrates the strength and includes videos of children talking about why they are proud to have the strength qualities, Campbell says.  

“They presented this idea to the NZ Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience and they were so impressed they have asked them to speak at their education conference next year, and also said they will help promote their cards and site across NZ schools!”

The next step for the team is develop an ‘individual action plan’ leading up to the international finals, and also organise how to work together as the team will be spread across four different schools Campbell says. 

“To compete the team have had to use complex problem solving processes and they have needed to be resilient, committed and hard-working.” Campbell says. “It will be exciting to see some of their hard work come to fruition as they begin actioning their plans next year. I feel very privileged to coach this team of creative, brave young people.”

Ready to take their message to the world, NZ national winners for complex thinking and problem solving are ‘Team Diversity’ aka (back left) Brooklyn Wilson, Tatiana Chan-Chui, Michael Lynch, Jack Brooks and Cate Campbell. In front, Ruby Judson and Sophie Lambert. 

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