Winning solutions to world problems at hand

23:00, Nov 12 2012

Problems that may face the world in 2044 have been identified and solved by a group of Fairhall School pupils.

The year 7 pupils - Jannika Roubos, Eddie Ave and Libby Grigg, all 12 and Cameron Jones, 11 - were placed third in the Future Problem Solving junior national final in Auckland this month.

Fairhall School deputy principal Denyse Healy tutored the team and said they were just one place away from qualifying to represent New Zealand in the Future Problem Solving world championship in the United States. Future problem solving is a programme designed to help children develop critical and lateral thinking.

Teams are given a challenge facing the world of the future. They identify 16 problems and brainstorm 16 solutions, then have to diagnose an underlying problem and develop an action plan to address it - all in just two hours.

This year the theme of the competition was trade barriers in the year 2044.

Ms Healy said the topic was challenging and required a lot of research, with the pupils doing two hours of work a day in the weeks leading up to the competition. "They were basically doing fifth-form economics."


This was the first year Fairhall School had two teams in the finals and the first time it had one finish in the top three, Ms Healy said.

The group experienced a common sensation many people encounter when having to wade through complex macroeconomic theory, she said.

"Our brains just fused. We were a bit sick of economics by the end," Jannika Roubos said.

This year's competition scenario involved an artificially intelligent, solar-powered car developed in New Zealand. Its manufacturers were having trouble exporting their invention to the world because of restrictive trade barriers.

The Blenheim team initially proposed teleportation and 3D printing as possible solutions. However, their final solution involved drastically reducing the time it takes to register intellectual property to get products on to the market faster.

The team hopes to stay together to have another go at the national title next year.

The Fairhall School year 8 team also qualified for the finals, although they did not gain a place.

The Marlborough Express