The Nelson College junior and senior future problem-solving teams. Photo: Supplied.

Students solving the world’s problems


A couple of classic cartoons served as the inspiration for the Nelson College problem-solving team.

The team of eight recently returned from the Future Problem-Solving International Conference in America, bringing home two gold medals.

The 2019 conference in Massachusetts saw 2500 students from 13 countries attempt to solve the world’s future problems.

The boys were presented with a scenario in 2039 where global temperatures were now 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels and continuing to rise.

With animals dying off, experts around the world were looking to “de-extinction” to save the ecosystem.

Teams were tasked with finding solutions to the inevitable problems that would arise from resurrecting animals that have not lived for 50 million years.

Sam Brookes was a member of the junior side that took out the Presentation Action of Plan with its Bob the Builder-inspired performance.

Sam says their team’s solution was to use conditioning so the animals “act how we want them to”.

“These animals haven’t been alive for a long time and by introducing them into a new climate, they would need to be conditioned.”

The team based their presentation off the framework of the children’s cartoon with Sam playing the part of Bob as he ‘fixed’ the problem of de-extinction.

Sam’s junior team went on to win the division while the seniors were pipped in the finals.

They didn’t walk away empty-handed however, placing first in the scavenger hunt and finished as the second top non- US team.

Ronan says the experience was incredibly rewarding.

“It was really interesting to see some of the countries other takes on problems.”

He says he loves the challenges problem solving presents.

“The ways to look at things, there’s nothing really like it.”

Sam says the skills can be applied to a number of real-life situations.

“You often find yourself thinking about solutions to problems.”