Clockwise from left is Fergus Richards, Ollie Taylor, Preston Holder and Tom Lynch, who are representing New Zealand at the International Future Problem Solving Championships . Photo: Kate Russell

Future problem solvers off to US


Four bright young sparks are putting their heads together to compete against some of the world’s best problem solvers.

Nelson College Preparatory School students Fergus Richards, Ollie Taylor, Preston Holder and Tom Lynch, all 12, are off to Wisconsin in the United States next month for the International Future Problem Solving Championships.

The students earned their place after winning the junior division at the national finals, and will compete with 80 teams and 2000 kids from around the globe.

Future problem solving is an international educational programme that develops creative, critical and caring thinking skills and Nelson College FPS teacher Sarah Watts says the school has always produced world-class teams.

“It will be the trip of a lifetime for these young men – they’ve been working like mad.”

The topic for the competition is the criminal justice system and the boys have been studying hard to understand how law enforcement and courts of the future could be made better.

“They are thinking of new processes to regulate crime and prosecute offenders and anticipating the ways that technology might be used against citizens in the future,” says Sarah. “They are also looking at ways to identify criminals, potential criminals and predict and identify criminal behaviour and how to use science to identify perpetrators of crime.”

While at the host university (the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse) they will have a few days to get to know the others through group workshops and activities as well as an opening ceremony.

Team member Ollie Taylor says getting a result would be “absolutely amazing” but more than anything, he can’t wait for the experience.

“We’ll get to exchange mementos with other countries and do cultural dances, so we’ll probably do the haka,” says Ollie. “It’s going to be nerve-racking presenting to so many people, but it’s going to be amazing to represent New Zealand and compete for our country.”

In order to support their trip, a quiz night and art auction is being held at the Nelson College Hall, this Friday, 18 May, starting at 7pm.

Tables of 8-10 people cost $80 and there will be prizes from local businesses. To book, email