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Scholars Academy students head to Ind.

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  • Scholars Academy participants

    These students will compete in the Future Problem Solving Program International Conference:

    Middle Division Team:

    Evan Hemming

    Aneri Kothari

    Rushil Shah

    Rhea Bhagia

    Alex Harrison – first alternate

    Laura Scott Cary – second alternate

    Ronak Bhagia – third alternate

    Junior Division Team:

    Aarushi Patil

    Varun Sattenapalli

    Navami Jain

    Ethan Zhang

    Beijul Shah – first alternate



A dozen Metrolina Regional Scholars students recently viewed the documentary “Girl Rising,” which follows the stories and struggles of nine girls from around the world.

“It wasn’t for the faint of heart,” said seventh-grader Evan Hemming. “It opens your mind to whole other societies and other cultures and what to do better or worse.”

They watched as preparation for their impending trip to the Future Problem Solving Program International Conference, starting June 6 at Indiana University.

The school’s four-person teams – which include junior, middle and alternate teams – won the state competition and will represent North Carolina among 40 other states and several countries.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Toni Hemming, a coach for the Scholars Academy students. “About 50,000 students participate in FPSP throughout the year, and only about 2 to 3 percent qualify to attend the international conference.”

FPSP presents students with various topics, which they must research before a competition. The international conference’s topic will be the global status of women. In recent years, topics have included human rights, invasive species, genetic testing and pollution.

At competitions, students are faced with an imagined scene from far into the future connected with the given topic. They have to identify many potential social, scientific, political, economic or technical issues from that scene.

Then students have to develop several solutions, choose the best one and write an action plan.

Aarushi Patil, who is in the sixth grade, said she enjoys the teamwork and writing aspect of the program.

“I usually like to write futuristic stuff ... which is kind of like this because you’re actually making up things,” she said.

While some countries make FPSP part of students’ required curriculum, the program in North Carolina is after-school and run by parent volunteers, Hemming said.

Eighth-grader Alex Harrison started FPSP in the fourth grade at a different school, and his parents helped bring the program to Scholars Academy three years ago. He’ll be competing in an alternate teams contest at the conference.

“I like challenging myself to think of new ideas and new ways to solve a problem,” he said.

Hemming said she believes in the program because it helps develop students’ teamwork, critical thinking and presentation skills.

Thirty-two students participated this year, and 12 of them made the cut to the international round.

For the past three years, Scholars Academy has attended the international conference, but hasn’t won. Hemming said they hope to place this year.

But what the students are looking forward to is meeting new people, particularly foreign students. They’ve signed up to be buddies in their dormitory rooms with students from another country.

Teams from at least 10 other countries will be participating, including Australia, India and China.

“I’m excited about meeting all the new people there,” Aarushi said. “It’s a good way to make friends and learn about different cultures from different countries.”

Ruebens: 704-358-5294; Twitter: @YoungAchCLT
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