Solving future problems in US

02:23, May 15 2014
f 	 Nelson College Preparatory School
THINKING OLYMPIANS: Nelson College students travelling to the Future Problem Solving World Championships in the United States.

A team of Nelson College students are off to the United States to represent New Zealand in the Future Problem Solving World Champs.

The students are preparing hard for the event, which this year has a theme of "Our Future in Space".

"What they are going to get is a problem, probably along the lines of some sort of colony set up in space and some sort of a failure. There will be an issue that they have to deal with in a futuristic way," teacher Sarah Watts says.

Sarah says it is a great honour for Nelson College to go to the event.

"It's the national and international competition," she says. "We are kind of Team New Zealand. It is kind of like a ‘Thinking Olympics' for want of a better description.

"The Americans do the full hoopla opening ceremonies."


Nelson College were named New Zealand Senior Champions and Middle Division Champions last year.

Sarah says that is a great achievement considering they were up against all the big private schools in New Zealand.

"We beat them all so it was great."

Sarah says the boys will have a major exam to sit when they get to the championships which this year is based at the University of Iowa.

The boys will be competing against 2000 other really bright kids from around the world.

For one of the team, Hugo Lawrence, this is his second competition. In his previous trip he competed individually and came third in the world, Sarah says.

Hugo will be the flag-bearer this year.

The last time Nelson College went was in 2011, but the school has been to the competition about nine times.

"So we've done exceptionally well as a school at it."

Sarah says the boys have been working hard at considering how a new society in space, that starting from scratch, might run.

"Let's say there are 10,000 people starting a new society, they can decide how that society should be and what you would take from the world we have and what you don't take," she says.

"We are doing a lot of work thinking about co-operation and communication systems and things like that to get an optimal functioning society. That's one of our big focuses. They are working really hard. They are really bright boys."

The team leaves New Zealand on June 6 and the competition starts on June 12.

To help pay their way the boys have done a lot of fundraising, from raffles to stalls at Nelson's Sunday Market.

They have also set up a page on the Give a Little website.

"If anyone would like to put a little bit their way it would be gratefully received. It is a really, really big event. They are asked to represent their country and they do a lot of work to get there over the course of the year."

Go to to make a donation to help the boys get to the United States.

The Nelson Mail