By Shelby Stewart
The word ‘philanthrocapitalism’ may not mean anything to most people, but for the six Future Problem Solvers teams at Brandon, it was their ticket
to qualify for the state bowl.
Future Problem Solvers is an academic competition and every season they are assigned four different topics, such as infectious disease prevention, and a future scene that involves the topic as a problem. The team must then identify the problems related to the future scene and come up with the underlying problems, then brainstorm and come up with the best solution to that problem and present a final action plan.
“The kids have opportunities to explore different topics,” said Julie Hampel, the coach for the two teams at Harvey Swanson elementary school. “They’re challenged to be reading with more comprehension and challenged to write to persuade the reader.”
There are two teams at Harvey Swanson, two at Brandon Middle School and two at Brandon High School, and all six teams tackled two practice topics as well as their qualifier topic, which was philanthrocapitalism. Most of the students have not even taken an economics class yet.
“You learn a lot of useful skill that you don’t think you’ll use,” said high schooler Lexi Halstead. “You learn about real life problems.”
One student will also be receiving a medal for her scenario writing. Annaliese Elliot is a scenario finalist at the State Bowl.
For the state bowl on March 17-18, the students will tackle the topic of cloud storage. They will explore a variety of different problems with it, such as hackers, availability, cost and limits of storage.
The top three teams will go on to represent the state of Michigan at internationals in Wisconsin.
“My favorite part isn’t even the reading and the writing, my favorite part is how the kids work as a team,” said Hampel. “These kids especially in the very beginning learn to be on a team with kids who think differently. Our successful teams figure out how to do that. Those are skills they’ll take into high school and college and later into the work field.”
Though this season will come to a close after states, the teams will be looking for interested students for next season.
“We are looking for students that enjoy reading, researching, that enjoy exploring new topics, that want to be challenged outside of their regular school work,” said Hampel. “Kids that are looking for a bigger challenge. It’s not for everybody.”
“It gives a good sense of the problems are in the world,” said team member Isaac Miller.
Though it is an academic competition, most of the students had the same reason for wanting to be on the team: It’s fun.