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Academics in action: Middle school future problem solvers head to statewide competition
[February 15, 2013]

Academics in action: Middle school future problem solvers head to statewide competition

Feb 15, 2013 (The Morehead News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Rowan County Middle School's future problem solving team may eventually take on the world's problems but first they are preparing for upcoming statewide competition.

It is the first time since the team was formed in 1986 that it has qualified to compete at the state level.

Head Coach Jim Byron said he is impressed constantly by the entire academic team and especially the future problem solving team.

"I was very proud of the kids when they won and appreciate all the hard work they put into their studies," said Byron. "These students have proven they have the foresight and skills necessary to be productive, innovative and contributing members of society." The students on the FPS team are Hathlyn Chapman, Emily Xu, Molly Simpson, Jacob Edie, Casey Jones and Sean Daugherty. They practice Monday through Thursday, separately from the rest of the academic team.

They are given issues that may arise in the world then must do extensive research on that topic and find 12 viable solutions, ranking the most feasible and effective.

"It focuses on teaching students to work as a team to find real solutions and also asks them to think outside of the box," said Byron.

They tackled robotics in the future during the district competition, Mega-cities during regionals and now must take on ocean soup. "Ocean soup" deals with pollution of waterways.

Byron said the judging of FPS is very strict. They are not only awarded points for solutions, but creativity, feasibility, and grammar.

"They practice the process as much as researching the prompt," said Byron. "They have two hours to finish a booklet outlining and ranking their plans, and at the regional competition, they finished with one minute and 30 seconds remaining." He said a lot of the success of the team was due to the focus their specific coach, Nicole Johnson, gives them.

"She is really fantastic with the students and was a state and national FPS champion herself," said Byron.

Not only did the FPS squad qualify for state competition but the quick recall team placed third in regional competition.

"We compete against 10 other teams and have the toughest regional competition for the age group," said Byron. "I was pleased with our quick recall team, they were one of the strongest I've seen in my four years as head coach." He credits the success of the academic team to his fellow teachers, parent volunteers, coaches and to the dedication of each student.

"Without Andrew Shrout, Chad Ison, Stacy May, Paula Stafford, Nicole Johnson and countless others that contribute to the team, it just couldn't be done," said Byron. "Everyone working together is the key to great academic success." The team heads to competition on March 16.

Shayla Menville can be reached at or by telephone at 784-4116.

___ (c)2013 The Morehead News (Morehead, Ky.) Visit The Morehead News (Morehead, Ky.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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