Options for participation

The Future Problem Solving Program provides a number of options for involvement by schools or community groups. One of the great strengths of FPS is its flexibility, enabling it to be incorporated into a wide range of educational and community programs:

  • Competitive (team and individual)
  • Non-competitive (team and individual)
  • Curricular (team and individual)
  • Non-school based


Students from Standard 4 to Form 6 work with coaches who assist them in gathering information and refining their problem solving and communication skills. Three divisions, based on school levels allow teams to participate and compete against other students at a comparable level:


Junior    :    Standard 4 to 6

Middle   :   Form 1 to 3

Senior    :    Form 3 to 6


During the year, teams work on 3 future scenes, each based on a different topic. The completed problems are assessed by evaluators with suggestions for improvement. This feedback mechanism is one of the program’s major strengths, assisting students to grow and develop.


The range of scientific and social topics is chosen annually by the International Future Problem Solving Program in conjunction with students, coaches and Affiliate Directors around the world.


Of the three problems completed by students, the first two are used for practice only. The third problem is competitive, with the top scoring teams possibly receiving invitations to participate at the International Conference. The final focuses on a fourth topic with winning teams in each of the 3 divisions being invited to attend the International Future Problem Solving (FPS) Conference the following year in USA.


Students are also allowed to participate as individuals, as part of a team.

In this division of the Future Problem Solving Program, students apply the problem solving process they have learned, to investigating and solving real life problems within their communities. Problem solving projects are evaluated and the winners of each division may receive invitations to attend the International FPS Conference.

Students involved in Community Problem Solving (CmPS) around the world have implemented a wide range of action plans, including cleaning up hazardous waste, providing aged hospice care and assisting in the establishment of schools in less developed regions of the world.

CmPS is available for both teams and individuals. The individual option makes CmPS ideal for educational programs such as the International Baccalaureate and youth programs such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Malaysia’s first team, Project GAZE (to minimize littering in SS19/6 Subang Jaya) was invited to participate in the International Conference in 2003 in Connecticut.

Scenario writing is another component of the multi-faceted Future Problem Solving Program. Students are encouraged to develop and submit scenarios of 1500 words or less. These are written in short story format and set at least twenty years into the future. As in the other competitive components, students compete only against other students in their own division.

The winners in each division are invited to the International Final to collect their awards.

Scenario performance is a new component introduced to the program in 2009. This component allows children to express their creative thoughts about the topics orally in the form of short stories. 2 Malaysian juniors made one of the first batches in this component last year.

The annual International FPS Conference is held in June in the USA. Approximately 2500 students and their coaches convene for four days of competitive problem solving, co-operative educational seminars and compatible social activities.


Standard 1 to Standard 4 students are eligible to participate in this division.

Teams of 6 to 8 students or even a whole grade may prepare the booklet. The Curricular division provides an excellent way for younger students to learn and practice the important skills of creative problem solving.


Booklet program

For teams or individuals in the junior, middle and senior divisions. All our middle/senior teams began their participation with this program.

Non-school based – For community groups, children or adults, not attached to a school. Team size is flexible.

Non-competitive and non-school based teams generally do three future scenes during the year as in the competitive Booklet Program, teams research the topic, complete a team booklet, submit it for evaluation by the due date and receive a written evaluation. These teams and individuals are not eligible to participate in the Australian Finals in October and therefore have more time to complete each problem.

Action-based Problem Solving

Action-based Problem Solving (AbPS) is one of our newer aspects of the International Future Problem Solving Program. It can be organized as a whole class activity or can be conducted in smaller groups, depending upon the needs of the students and school involved.

AbPS requires students to explore legitimate concerns in the local community and to prepare themselves to take positive action regarding these concerns.

The simplified six-step problem solving process used in AbPS lends itself to being incorporated into a range of subject areas from the humanities to the sciences. Collaborative learning, responsible group membership, literacy and the development of related skills are key aspects of the AbPS process.

(Adapted from FPSP Australia)