Bulletin Staff Report

Four Early Middle School sixth-graders — Colton Meisner, Grant Gowdy, Caleb Holcomb and Thomas Givan — who placed second at the Future Problem Solving state competition, leave today for Colorado and will represent Texas, and their school, at the international competition.

The middle school boys are all involved in the Early Independent School District’s gifted and talented program, called “LIFT,” which stands for “Learning Involvement For Tomorrow.” And, explained their teacher, Lisa Beck, as LIFT students, the boys were eligible to participate as a four-member team at the state Future Problem Solving competition.

Future Problem Solving, team members explained after placing second at the state level, is a six-step process that includes identifying a problem, creating an underlying problem and making a solution for the underlying problem, then developing an action plan.

Teams study three topics a year, but only one will be picked at each competition. Teams receive a “packet” for that problem and have approximately 2 hours to solve the problem. In solving the problems in competition, each of the team members have different steps they do.

At the state event, 782 competition packets were completed for the junior division and out of those 782, 60 teams and packets qualified.

Out of those 60, the Early team placed second, even though one of their members, Thomas Givan, had gotten sick and had to leave without getting to compete.

“It’s quite an honor to have a team out of a school our size do this well in this competition,” Beck said.

“To go in without one is extremely difficult,” Beck said, “but they did it. The state directors were quite amazed to have a team come unglued like that and compete successfully. That’s really unheard of.”

The International Conference begins Thursday and lasts for four days. It’s being held on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins, Colo.

“Internationally, more than 50,000 students participate each year in the competitive components of the program, and only an elite 3 percent of the students earn an invitation to the International Conference,” Beck said.

The conference features outstanding creative problem solving students from around the world, she added and the Early FPS team will be competing with other students from 41 states within the United States as well as students from other countries, including Australia, Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.