Under the direction of Mrs. Elaine Purnell, 8th grade teacher, two Nichols teams earned second and third place in the Future Problem Solvers State of Illinois awards for the Middle Grades level (grades 7-9) in Community Problem Solving. “Nichols Middle School should be proud of its winning at the State level. It shows the fortitude and thinking skills strengths of the students under Mrs. Purnell’s guidance,” said Dr. Trevor Steinbach, Executive Director of Illinois-FPSB.
Community Problem Solving (CmPS) is a team activity in which students identify real problems and implement real solutions in a community – local, state, national, or even global. Students use the skills of the problem solving process as they work on their project; however, since real life is not always as organized as an academic exercise, the process may not proceed neatly from step to step. CmPS can be pursued as an extracurricular activity or as part of the regular school curriculum and can be one or two years in length.
Mrs. Purnell’s student projects focused on improving community hunger and providing safe areas for community skateboarding. In both cases, students worked from October, 2016 through February, 2017. Each team met during their lunch hours to work on their community projects.
Through participation in Community Problem Solving, students refine critical and creative thinking skills, focus on a real community or school issue, produce solution ideas, generate criteria to evaluate solution ideas, determine the best plan of action, and implement the plan to resolve their problem.
The Nichols Second place team was made up of Sylvia Tellez, India Aaron, Macy Aiken, Noah Kayain, and Lara-Nour Walton. The Nichols Third place team included Avery Bryant, Jeremy Sherpa, Ber Barbaros, and Raheem Lee.
Illinois-FPSB, Inc has been promoting student thinking skills in Illinois schools since 1980.
(Photo Credit: Nicole Nava, Media Arts Teacher)