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Future Problem Solving sisters hail from Nisswa

Beginning in 2015, when the girls were members of Nisswa Elementary School’s Future Problem Solving teams, the sisters have consistently been Minnesota Future Problem Solving’s top award winners.

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From left, all four Anderson sisters - eighth-grader Callista, sophomores Scarlett and Vanessa, and sixth-grader Violet - earned invitations to the 2022 International Future Problem Solving Competition.
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NISSWA — Have a problem? Talk to the Anderson sisters of Nisswa.

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A highlight of the 2022 international event was meeting other Future Problem Solvers from around the world and trading mementos. From left are Scarlett, Violet, Callista and Vanessa Anderson, from Nisswa.
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Twin sisters Scarlett and Vanessa, and their younger sisters, Callista and Violet, are champion Future Problem Solvers from Brainerd High School and Forestview Middle School.

Over the past seven years, the Nisswa sisters have tackled the challenges of building green, neurotechnology, living in poverty, de-extinction, identity theft and more.

Scarlett and Vanessa are BHS sophomores. Callista is an eighth-grader and Violet a sixth-grader, both at Forestview.

Some of my favorite FPS topics have included neurotechnology and antibiotic resistance, because they both took me out of my academic comfort zone and challenged me to create solutions to problems that I’ve never really had to think of solving before.
Vanessa Anderson

Future Problem Solving Program International is a program involving thousands of students annually from around the world.

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Three competitive programs are offered for students in grades 4-12: Global Issues Problem Solving, Community Problem Solving, and Scenario Writing.

FPS teaches students how to think, not what to think. After learning the six-step FPS process, students apply it to real world problems that are relevant today and into the future.

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Each year students research and analyze four topics and can compete in regional and state competitions with top competitors advancing to international competition. The topics cover the areas of business and economics, science and technology, and society and politics.

“Some of my favorite FPS topics have included neurotechnology and antibiotic resistance, because they both took me out of my academic comfort zone and challenged me to create solutions to problems that I’ve never really had to think of solving before,” Vanessa said.

FPS is such an amazing program. I love the opportunity to travel and meet other kids who have similar interests and a drive to learn like I do. Everyone supports each other as we all work hard to go through the problem-solving process together.
Scarlett Anderson

Beginning in 2015, when the girls were members of Nisswa Elementary School’s Future Problem Solving teams, the sisters have consistently been Minnesota Future Problem Solving’s top award winners. They have been state champions in the Global Issues Problem Solving junior, middle and senior divisions in the team, individual and scenario writing competitions, and they are international competition award winners.

FPS has taught me so many useful skills that I use in my day-to-day life. These include developing good communication skills, making me a better reader, increasing my vocabulary, making me think more creatively and many more. It’s a really great program and I would definitely recommend it.
Callista Anderson

Scarlett and Vanessa have been state champions in both the team and individual competitions and qualified for internationals seven years in a row.

Callista’s state champion team earned an international competition berth in 2020.

This year all four sisters were invited to represent Minnesota at the International Future Problem Solving Competition. The best Future Problem Solvers from 37 states and 14 countries gathered at the University of Massachusetts in June for the on-site competition, while others participated virtually due to COVID-19.

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“The international competition has always been really enjoyable for me, because I get the opportunity to meet other people my age from across the globe who share a passion for solving the problems of our future," Vanessa said.

For Callista and Violet, the Memento Exchange was one of their favorite parts of the international event.

“It’s so fun trading and collecting mementos and meeting people from across the world. There’s nothing else like it,” they said.

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Scarlett Anderson and her teammates from Connecticut, Illinois and Australia receive first-place awards for the 2022 International Future Problem Solving Senior Division Multi Affiliate Global Issues Problem Solving Competition.
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Attending on site, Minnesota FPS individual champions Vanessa, Callista and Violet competed in the senior, middle and junior Global Issues individual competition, while Scarlett competed in Scenario Writing and the Senior Multi-Affiliate Global Issues competition with teammates from Australia, Connecticut and Illinois. Their topic was antibiotic resistance.

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Scarlett Anderson, far left, and teammates from Connecticut, Illinois and Australia placed first in the 2022 International Future Problem Solving Senior Division Multi Affiliate Global Issues Problem Solving Competition.
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Scarlett and Vanessa, the twin sisters from Minnesota, were on the podium again with the very top Future Problem Solvers in the world. Scarlett’s team placed first and Vanessa placed fifth in the senior individual competition.

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Vanessa Anderson placed fifth in the 2022 Future Problem Solving International Senior Division Global Issues Problem Solving Competition.
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The girls are coached by community volunteer Sheila Johnston, who said: “The Brained area FPS teams have been the top teams in the state, with multiple team and individual state champions advancing to international every year. While the competitions are fun and exciting, the skills learned through Future Problem Solving will last a lifetime.”

“FPS has taught me so many useful skills that I use in my day-to-day life," Callista said. "These include developing good communication skills, making me a better reader, increasing my vocabulary, making me think more creatively and many more. It’s a really great program and I would definitely recommend it.”

“COVID-19 restrictions made participation a bit difficult the past two years, but we are excited to be growing the FPS program again in the Brainerd area,” Johnston said. “Team coach Marcy Byrns and I would love to have teams in all the divisions across grades 4 through 12.”

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Scarlett added: “FPS is such an amazing program. I love the opportunity to travel and meet other kids who have similar interests and a drive to learn like I do. Everyone supports each other as we all work hard to go through the problem-solving process together.”

For more information about FPS and the opportunity for your child to be part of the program, visit mnfpsp.org or call Johnston at 612 226-6571.

Sheila Johnston is a community volunteer Future Problem Solvers coach.

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