FPS Curriculum

A Look at the FPS Curriculum

We are often asked how some coaches get so much time to prepare their students for an academic competition.  Kids are busy these days, especially in the middle and high school years.  They have jobs, their music, and often sports.  We feel that we are spending more energy on competing for time than on preparing for the competition.


  1. Full Semester Course:  A full-time course that meets for the equivalent of a semester of 18 weeks.  This timeline allows for the incorporation of many of the extension activities.  Without using those activities, the course may fit into a 12 week session.
  1. Year-Long Integration:  Integrated throughout the year in a classroom or core subject area   
  2. Two-Year Implementation:
    1. Year 1: “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 1-4”
    2. Year 2: Review of “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 5-8”
  3. Three-Year Implementation:
    1. Year 1: “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 1-2”
    2. Year 2: Review of “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 3-5”
    3. Year 3: Review of “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 6-8”
  4. Four-Year Implementation:
    1. Year 1: “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 1-2”
    2. Year 2: Review of “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 3-4”
    3. Year 3: Review of “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 5-6”
    4. Year 4: Review of “Preparation for Problem Solving” and “Problem Solving Experiences 7-8”
  5. Cross-Curricular Studies:
    1. Language Arts: “Preparation for Problem Solving” and the first five problem  solving experiences, which are based on literature
    2. Science: “Problem Solving Experience 6,” about smart clothes
    3. Social Studies: “Problem Solving Experiences 7/8,” about digital music rights and prejudice

It is not necessary to complete every activity or experience.  If you decide to skip some of them, it is recommended that you review the missed experience to see what new skills or extensions of skills are introduced so that you can include those in your next set of activities.

Competitive Problem Solving:  This course is intended as instructional material.  However, the instruction does parallel skills needed for competition.  Students could move from this curriculum into competitive problem solving at any point if there is an interest in doing so.  Problem Solving Experience 8, the final one, includes information on competitive evaluation and could serve as a strong transition into competitive problem solving.  It is not necessary to complete this entire course before considering a competitive program.  

Check out our website for more information about engaging your students in real life challenges while having fun doing it!

FPSP Components

Team Problem Solving

Under the guidance of a teacher/coaches, teams of four students in grades 4-12 use the FPSP six-step model to explore challenges and propose action plans to complex societal problems, such as fads, financial security, amateur sports, the Internet and genetic engineering.

Teams are divided into three divisions:

Grades 4 – 6 (Junior)
Grades 7 – 9 (Middle)
Grades 10 – 12 (Senior)


Teams complete two practice problems and one qualifying problem throughout the school year. Trained evaluators score student work and return it with feedback including suggestions for improvement. The top scoring teams on the qualifying problem are invited to Affiliate FPS Bowls held each spring. The winners of each respective Affiliate FPS Bowl advance to the FPSP International Conference in June.

Individual Problem Solving

Individual competition is offered in affiliate programs choosing to administer an individual program. A student works individually rather than as a member of a team. Check with the affiliate director of your respective program for additional information on individual competition.

Action-based Problem Solving

This year-long, non-competitive component is designed for use in the regular classroom and introduces students to the skills of creative problem solving in a hands-on, non-threatening manner. Teams consisting of four-six students are encouraged to work on two topics, one per semester. Three divisions are offered: Primary (grades K-3), Junior (grades 3-6) and Middle (grades 6-9).

Community Problem Solving (CmPS)

Teams apply their FPS skills to real problems in their community. A community problem is a problem that exists within the school, local community, region, state or nation. Implementation of the action plan is included in this component. Teams move from hypothetical issues to real world, authentic concerns. The top Community Problem Solving Team projects are invited to the FPSP International Conference in June.

Scenario Writing

Students compose futuristic short stories (1,500 words or less) related to one of the current year’s topics. The first place winner in each affiliate program is invited to the FPSP International Conference.

Additionally, each affiliate director may submit its top three essays to the International Scenario Writing Competition.

Why FPSP? The Future…

The Future Problem Solving Program provides students with necessary thinking and problem solving skills which will serve them well throughout their lives.
This page is dedicated to bringing you articles which accentuate the benefits of participating in Future Problem Solving Program!

The latest copy of the Creative Learning Today in which an article, Citizens of the Future World:  International Outreach in the FPSP, by our very own Valerie Volk is provided.  Other interesting articles on creativity are also found in this publication.  Thanks Valerie for your effort and excellent writing on FPSPI!  Creative Learning Today

How FPSPI uses its curricula to prepare students for the global workplace: 21 Century

The World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine are pleased to present our special bulletin, “Forecasts for 2009 and Beyond.” Just click the link to the right and you’ll discover …
— 10 Social and Technological Forecasts for the Next 25 Years…
— The Outlook for Hydrogen Energy…
— Nanotechnology Breakthroughs for the Next 15 years…
— How to Spot Trends Ahead of the Crowd… and more.


Have you seen the new Federal Commission on New Skills for the Workplace report? The article is : Sources of Innovation and Creativity: A Summary of the Research, by Karlyn Adams, University of Pennsylvania. FPS is mentioned on page 54.

FPSP General Description

The Future Problem Solving Program (FPSP) teaches students how to think, not what to think.  This is accomplished by teaching critical and creative thinking skills, and problem solving and decision making skills via a six step process.  Developing these skills help students to improve their academic and social achievement.  After learning the six step problem solving process, students are able to participate in the Community Problem Solving component.  This component encourages students to become agents of change in their communities.  Students will explore challenges in the community, determine the underlying problem, brainstorm possible solutions, develop criteria to determine the best solution, develop an action plan, and carry the action plan out.  These civic projects allow students to become a part of the solution in their communities.

Not including the cost of an academic coach, for only $250.00 per four person team, your students will engage in a rigorous year long competition.  The FPSP:

  • Encourages students to improve their critical, creative, and analytical thinking skills
  • Stimulates students’ knowledge and interest in the future
  • Extends written and verbal communication
  • Develops and improves research proficiency
  • Provides opportunities to apply process tools and method to real world problems
  • Guides students to become more self-directed and responsible
  • Develops teamwork skills
  • Promotes decision-making techniques to reach agreement with team members

The program provides opportunities to apply process tools and method to real world problems such as Climate Change/Climate Threat, Freedom of Speech, Nutrition, Healthcare Access, Redistribution of Wealth, Debt in Developing Countries, and many more global topics that are relevant today and into the future. The program provides a problem-solving model that students integrate into their lives, giving them the competitive edge when applying for jobs and building sustainable futures. 

The FPSP competitive components include Team Problem Solving, Individual Problem Solving, Scenario Writing, and the aforementioned Community Problem Solving.  These skills are taught both in the classroom and beyond the classroom as an extra curricular component and pullout programs.  The FPSP teaches flexibility, hence, there are virtually no limits as to how the program is delivered in schools.  

The FPSP provides training for coaches and ongoing mentoring.  Teachers and volunteer parents successfully coach teams.  Often new coaches opt to participate in our Freelance component which allows students and coaches to receive the same high quality feedback on their work as the competitive teams.  The Freelance component is a cost savings to a school that is just starting out while providing high-quality, yearlong training.  Students will not only be excited about competing their second year, they will be ready!