STUDENTS | July 1, 2020
How a Prescott Student Wrapped Up Her Elementary School Experience Being Recognized at an International Competition
While many adults might not know what terraforming means, recent Prescott Elementary graduate Ava M. spent much of eighth grade learning all about it. As part of her school’s Future Problem Solving team, she has developed solutions to complex issues for the past four years. The challenge this year? Terraforming, which means making a planet or moon habitable for humans. Since she wants to be an engineer when she grows up, Ava sees Future Problem Solving as the perfect activity to prepare her for her future career.
“I’ve always been really interested in science and math, so I knew Future Problem Solving was something I wanted to join in the fifth grade,” she said. “It’s been a really great opportunity to boost my skills both creatively and scientifically.”
Ava’s journey on Prescott’s team ended on a high note. This year, she placed fifth in the individual competition against students from all over the world. After being tasked with making one of Jupiter’s moons safer for human life, she created a video skit to outline her solution: a solar hub that would alleviate the adverse health effects of nuclear energy. The video was the culmination of months of research on the strategies that scientists use to terraform and companies involved in the terraforming process.
“Because this moon of Jupiter had so much solar radiation, I thought it would make sense to create something that could harness all of that energy and turn it into a big energy source,” she said. “I knew from my research that solar energy was one of the safest energy sources so that’s why I thought it would be a good solution.”
While this was Ava’s first year competing as an individual, she has been a mainstay for Prescott in the team competition. Being part of a Future Problem Solving team means preparing for an extensive written response that requires teams to identify a problem and its challenges, outline their solution, develop criteria for measuring their solution, and persuade the reader on why their solution is best. Ava says that being part of the team year after year taught her the importance of collaboration.
“Before this program, I was focused on being the boss and wanted to control everything,” she said. “I learned that listening to each other and allowing everyone to bring something to the table is how you end up with a great idea or solution.”
With international recognition under her belt, Ava’s next goal is to establish a Future Problem Solving Team at Jones College Prep next year as a freshman. She already has the support of Ms. Hainsfurther, a diverse learner teacher at Prescott and her current coach. Having watched the team at Prescott grow rapidly over the past few years, Ava is optimistic that she will be able to build a new team from scratch. Still, she knows that the incredible memories she created with her team at Prescott will be tough to beat.
“I helped write our class graduation speech this year, and one quote that sticks out is that you never leave a place even though you move on from it,” she said. “There’s still a part of Prescott that will always remain in me.”