Future-Ready

Our problem solvers learn how to think, not what to think, and gain lifelong skills.

Discover Our Education Programs

Each year K-12 students around the world participate in a variety of challenges designed to empower curious youth to become changemakers.

Attend Our World Finals​

Each year our highest level competition brings together over 2,000 champion problem solvers and supporters from around the world. Our recent 2024 International Conference also celebrated the milestone of turning 50 (1974-2024).

Our Impact

Ready for work, life, and to create a better future

Our proven educational outcomes are life-changing for students. We prepare young people to find solutions, take relevant action, and be a force for positive change. Our model ignites curiosity in real world issues and equips students with complex problem-solving skills. Once learned, these skills ensure students are ready to succeed in their classes today and in their work and life tomorrow. And in the age of AI, it’s more important than ever to make sure young people learn how to think and solve problems.

In a world where educators and students are confronted with a range of unprecedented challenges, Future Problem Solving helps students keep pace. Our standards-based and skill-based programs meaningfully engage young people in all the places and spaces they learn. With Future Problem Solving, students learn how to think, not what to think, and gain lifelong learning skills.

Our Competition Programs

Problem-solving skills stay for life

Our educational experiences include competitions for both teams and individuals. In addition, teachers often integrate components of our multidisciplinary problem-solving programs into their classroom curriculum to meet students where and how they learn to think. Explore which programs are right for the curious young people in your life.

Global Issues

Students become mini-experts and predict possibilities for the future.

Community Projects

Students learn to turn interests into action and create lasting change.

Creative Writing

Students write a creative, futuristic scenario based on a competition topic.

Storytelling

Students invent a futuristic scenario and tell their story in an oral performance.

Our Approach

Building student agency

Real world topics engage and inspire students to learn the skills they need to succeed today and in the future.
brainstorming tool written on paper

Problem-Solving Method

Our proven 6-step process equips students with a problem-solving model to develop relevant action plans for any situation.

problem-solving students from Illinois holding sign

Real World Issues

Our problem-solving situations highlight important challenges from business, civics, science, society, and technology.

problem-solving student with his community projects display

Authentic Assessment

Our rubric-based evaluations provide learner-focused feedback to assess student learning and strengthen important skills.

problem-solving student ready for her future solution skit

Future Scenarios

Our future scenes are imagined storylines that present creative and futuristic problems to solve with current topic information.

junior student hands on challenge with stacking cups

5Cs of Learning

Our interdisciplinary problem-solving process infuses important 21st Century Learning skills throughout all our programs.

Australia Problem Solving students attending International Conference

Global Network

Our global community features passionate, dedicated, and successful students, educators, affiliates, alumni, supporters, and more.

Testimonials

The future we want

Young people gain more choice in their own learning and the confidence to use their talents to make their world a better place.
I studied languages because I wanted to explore the world, science because I cared deeply for the environment, and…Future Problem Solving because I enjoyed it and I knew it would provide me with skills and confidence that I could carry with me forever. It taught me that we can come up with creative ways to solve the problems that humans have created.
meganne wyatt testimonial photo
Meganne Wyatt
Astronaut and Explorer
(Alum)
I tackled thought-provoking topics like green building, water supply, and mining. My career pathway will definitely involve research and I would like to combine my passion for space exploration and medicine. I aspire to become a flight surgeon, to work for the Australian Space Agency and study the impact on humans of space travel or even living on the moon or Mars.
anay-testimonial-photo
Anay
2020 Third Place Junior Division
(Global Issues)
There’s a shortage of problem solvers, people who can see the problems, have the foresight to look at the issues that face society, our country, and the world. Make sure you make time for Future Problem Solving. This is something that counts. This is something that matters. This is something that will help you in the future, in high school, in college, and to get the grades you want to make. It’s going to empower you to have the knowledge and skills to get the job you’re wanting to get.
drew-trimble-testimonial
Drew Trimble
Attorney
(Alum)
The most important aspects were researching how I could help children cope with change and talking to experts about this problem. I have enjoyed how much of a difference my project (A Change Toolbox) made in people’s lives and in my own life by being a constant force of happiness. I have learnt how to be better at time management, build my leadership skills by reaching out, as well as becoming more confident when speaking in front of people.
tehahlee-testimonial
Telahlee
2022 Champion Junior Division
(Community Projects)

Our Topic Center

Real issues engage and inspire learning

By utilizing important global issues and embracing the future, we stay relevant in the ever-evolving educational space.

Air Quality

How will the quality of air, a globally shared resource essential for human health and prosperity, impact us in the future?

Currency

How will emerging technologies and changing economies impact how the world uses currency in the future?

Future Problem Solving Students – A Five Year Study

(2016)

A Comparison of Reading and Mathematics Performance Between Students Participating in a Future Problem Solving Program and Nonparticipants

Data from the The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) was collected by Grandview Middle School and provided to Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. for statistical analysis.


Findings reported by Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. Performance data on the MCA was collected from 2010-2014 for students in grade 6 at Grandview Middle School in Mound, MN (Westonka Public School District). Students were identified as either FPS: students participating in a Future Problem Solving program, or Non-FPS: students not participating in the program. Summary statistics using Reading and Mathematics Scaled Scores were developed for each group of students by year and across years. To determine if the mean scores across the years were significantly different, t-tests were used. A Cohen’s d test was then performed to measure the effect of the size of the found differences.

In all cases, students participating in the Future Problem Solving Program performed significantly higher on the MCA in both areas of Mathematics and Reading.

Effects of Group Training in Problem-Solving Style on Future Problem-Solving Performance

(2017)

The Journal of Creative Behavior (JCB) of the Creative Education Foundation

Seventy-five participants from one suburban high school formed 21 teams with 3–4 members each for Future Problem Solving (FPS). Students were selected to participate in either the regular FPS or an enhanced FPS, where multiple group training activities grounded in problem-solving style were incorporated into a 9-week treatment period.

An ANCOVA procedure was used to examine the difference in team responses to a creative problem-solving scenario for members of each group, after accounting for initial differences in creative problem-solving performance, years of experience in FPS, and creative thinking related to fluency, flexibility, and originality. The ANCOVA resulted in a significant difference in problem-solving performance in favor of students in the treatment group (F(1, 57) = 8.21, p = .006, partial eta squared = .126, medium), while there were no significant differences in years of experience or creativity scores. This result led researchers to conclude that students in both groups had equivalent creative ability and that participation in the group activities emphasizing problem-solving style significantly contributed to creative performance.

In the comparison group, a total of 47% had scores that qualified for entry to the state competition. In contrast, 89% of the students in the treatment group had scores that qualified them for the state bowl. None of the teams from the comparison group qualified for the international competition, while two teams from the treatment group were selected, with one earning sixth place.

The results of this study suggest that problem-solving performance by team members can be improved through direct instruction in problem-solving style, particularly when there is a focus on group dynamics.

The Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 0, Iss. 0, pp. 1–12 © 2017 by the Creative Education Foundation, Inc. DOI: 10.1002/jocb.176

Future Problem Solving Program International—Second Generation Study

(2011)

“How important was Future Problem Solving in the development of your following skill sets?”

In 2011, a team of researchers from the University of Virginia submitted a report titled “Future Problem Solving Program International—Second Generation Study.” (Callahan, Alimin, & Uguz, 2012). The study, based on a survey, collected data from over 150 Future Problem Solving alumni to understand the impact of their participation in Future Problem Solving as students or volunteers.

 
Percentage of Alumni Rating Important and Extremely Important in Developing Skill Sets
  • 96% Look at the “Big Picture”
  • 93% Critical Thinking
  • 93% Teamwork and Collaboration
  • 93% Identify and Solve Problems
  • 93% Time Management
  • 90% Researching
  • 90% Evaluation and Decision Making
  • 86% Creativity and Innovation
  • 86% Written Communication
 
The report captured alumni’s positive experiences as students in Future Problem Solving and documented that the alumni continued to utilize the FPS-structured approach to solving problems in their adult lives.

Evaluation of the Future Problem Solving Program

(2011)

Data was obtained from 220 coaches, 633 students, 195 parents, and 34 affiliate directors nationally and internationally

The Center for Creative Learning, USA (Treffinger, Selby, and Crumel) completed an international evaluation of Future Problem Solving including three competitive programs (Global Issues, Community Projects, and Creative Writing). Surveys ascertained 1,082 respondents’ views of: the extent to which Future Problem Solving and its programs meet their stated goals, the strengths of the programs and areas for improvement, and the impact of the program on its participants.

All respondents with current experience participating in each program rated a comprehensive list of 11-12 skills using a 5-point Likert scale. The adult groups identified the impact on participating students’ learning and growth, and the students identified what skills their participation helped them with the most.

 
Top 5 Most Impactful Skills Identified by Program

GLOBAL ISSUES

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (151)

  • Learning about complex issues that will shape the future (4.60)
  • Developing teamwork and collaboration, working together and cooperating with each other (4.39)
  • Fostering critical thinking (the ability to sort and sift information or to focus one’s thinking) (4.29)
  • Developing an active interest in the future (4.29)
  • Developing the skills needed to manage time effectively (4.02)

 

Students (242)

  • Learning about topics that will have important effects on the future. (4.14)
  • Working together and cooperating with others (4.13)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.99)
  • Helping become a better leader (3.90)
  • Deciding on the best solution to a problem (3.87)

 

COMMUNITY PROJECTS

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (64)

  • Enhancing the skills of preparing and delivering materials and/or presentations that communicate ideas effectively (4.76)
  • Developing teamwork and collaboration (working together, cooperating with each other)(4.56)
  • Developing leadership skills (4.56)
  • Showing evidence that team members are able to apply FPS skills in other situations (4.30)
  • Developing the skills needed to manage time effectively (4.27)

 

Students (107)

  • Working together and cooperating with others (4.33)
  • Feeling that I can make a difference in shaping the future (4.13)
  • Deciding on the best solution to a problem (4.07)
  • Helping me become a better leader (3.97)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.96)

 

CREATIVE WRITING

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (82)

  • Enhancing and expanding writing skills (4.39)
  • Developing an active interest in the future (4.11)
  • Learning about complex issues that will shape the future (4.10)
  • Thinking and researching futuristically (4.06)
  • Fostering creative thinking (the ability to generate many, varied, and unusual options (3.98)

 

Students (146)

  • Thinking and researching futuristically (4.08)
  • Developing better writing skills (4.05)
  • Learning about topics that will have important effects on the future (3.99)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.92)
  • Finding information in many different places (3.69)

 

Note, 88% of parents were satisfied with the Future Problem Solving program their youngster(s) participated in and a majority of parents with eligible students anticipated a high level of interest in participating again next year (60.9%).

Alumni Top 5 Most Impactful Skills on Their Development

A group of 48 alumni also responded to surveys focused on their past experiences and the impact those experiences had on their development into adulthood. Approximately 8 in 10 reported Future Problem Solving was very helpful or extremely helpful in secondary school (81%), in academic work after high school (78%), and in other life experiences outside school or academic work (81%). Looking back on their experience, the aspects below were rated the five most important and valuable.

  • Learning ways to think of many different and unusual ideas (4.75)
  • Learning how to choose the best solution for a problem (4.42)
  • Learning how to work or collaborate with others (4.41)
  • Developing better writing skills (4.36)
  • Learning a specific process for solving problems (4.35)
 
Results indicated strong overall satisfaction with Future Problem Solving among all stakeholder groups, as well as evidence of positive impact on academic and real-life accomplishments and personal relationships.

 

5-point Likert scale:
Adults: 1 = Little or no impact, 2 = Limited impact, 3 = Moderate impact, 4 = High impact, 5 = Exceptional impact
Students: 1= Hasn’t helped me at all, 2 = Helped me just a little, 3 = Helped me = “Okay”, 4 = Helped me quite a bit, 5= Really a great help to me
Alumni: 1=Not Important, 2=Of Little Importance, 3=Somewhat Important, 4=Very Important, 5=Extremely Important

April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in gifted education. She earned the National Board certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board assessor for the certification of others. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for the state of Florida’s certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education. Beyond her U.S. education credentials, she has been trained for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem-solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.