Global contest no problem for students

19:48, Jun 19 2014
Nelson College students
WELCOME BACK: Nelson College senior student Ihaia Wharepapa, centre leads fellow students in the college's haka to welcome fellow students returning from the United States.

A team of Nelson College students may have pop band One Direction to thank for their win in the International Future Problem Solvers Competition.

Eight Nelson College students representing New Zealand at the competition returned home yesterday. It was held over four days at Iowa State University, with more than 2000 students competing from around the world.

Nelson College Future Problem Solvers teacher Sarah Watts was with the students and said they gave an "outstanding" performance. The students were tasked with solving a ‘future in space' problem. The problem was based on mining in space and creating and ensuring ethical outcomes for it.

Nelson College students
BRINGING IT HOME: Nelson College teacher Sarah Watts with Nelson College students Sam Mackay-Wright, left and Hugo Lawrence at Nelson Airport after returning from the International Future Problem Solvers Competition in the United States.

The senior boys won a trophy for their creative dramatic presentation of their solution to this dilemma. They performed a send-up of One Direction songs, which they re-wrote to tell their story.

"It was outstanding. The boys are very, very smart and the problem they were set was very difficult. They handled it excellently, they were a true team, they worked together to solve it."

When they weren't solving hypothetical problems, they were exploring the USA.


The group was away for two weeks, so was able to travel from San Francisco to Minneapolis.

"It was fantastic, a trip of a lifetime," Watts said.

And they were met at Nelson Airport yesterday morning with a ceremonial haka welcome from their fellow students.

"It was a complete surprise, we had no idea that was coming. It was a beautiful moment."