A Community Problem Solving team from Lino Lakes Elementary is headed for the Future Problem Solving international competition, June 6 to 9 in Bloomington, Ind.
Part of the Future Problem Solving program, Community Problem Solving encourages students to identify and solve real problems in their own community.
At the state competition, held at Forest Lake High School on April 6, the fifth- and sixth-grade team took first place with their project, “The more you move, the more you groove into a better life.”
The fourth-grade team took second place with their project, “Respect the bathrooms or they will not respect you!”
The More You Move
Nine of the 12 fifth- and sixth-graders were present at the school board meeting on May 2. While they waited to appear before the board, each one told one fact about the problem or their solution.
Sydney Schmidt: “We got kids to be more healthy and get more fit.”
Jordan Buelow: “The project took two years. The first year, we interviewed the principal, nurse, and school secretary to find out how many kids go home sick, on average.”
Sydney Thibault: “For fitness fun, at gym or recess, we did really fun activities with sports equipment and fitness goals. We found out this year that if your heart gets beating faster, you can process your thoughts.”
Olivia Olson: “This year we started athlete of the week. Mrs. Luke [Michele Luke, physical education] picks out kids from each grade.”
Sophia Spear: “This year we hosted a school game night. We had volleyball, dodge ball, Twister and charades. It was a free school event with families.”
Kasan Rindels: “Also this year was dance night, where kids and parents come to dance just for fun. We had a DJ.”
Katelyn Krause: “We had news flashes, where we would go onto the school news and give out healthy food goals.”
Travis Shurtleff: “To sell at game and dance night, we developed three types of bookmarks: two [rectangular] designs and plastic-coated paper clips. We raised $25 ($300 total) toward gym and recess equipment.”
Cassie La Fond: “We took donations in a box. We asked people for dollars for dancing, pennies for the playground, for a week.”
Shayla Weinke: “Jaw-Dropping News had facts about getting healthy and staying fit.”
The team urged their classmates to eat to carrots instead of chips once a week, to do 10 push-ups and run a couple laps at recess. They sponsored volleyball, basketball and scooter races. They volunteered at the Lino Lakes 5K run to connect with the community.
“Each day we gave teachers and students an idea on how to move more,” Travis told the school board.
Among the messages they spread at Lino Lakes were that sitting too long in front of a TV is harmful, video games can rob you of real life experiences and can become addictive.
Respect the Bathrooms
Four of the five fourth-graders were present at the May 2 school board meeting. Before the meeting, they offered details about their project.
Emma Barborak: “One year, we decided to fix two bathrooms at Lino, used by the third to sixth grades. They didn’t look good.”
Grace Land: “Kids were putting milk cartons and carrots from the cafeteria in the toilet. One door fell off.”
Grace Muellner: “People were disrespecting them, using a pen to engrave in the doors. We painted them. Now they look nicer, cleaner, safer.”
Maggie Labuhn: “We painted a unicorn in the girls bathroom and a pirate jungle in the boys.”
The fourth-graders said the appearance of the newly painted bathrooms was motivating some students to change their behavior. “We think the main reason is they’re a lot nicer,” they said.
Before deciding on the makeover, they surveyed other students to get color and theme ideas. “If we just did what we wanted, they might not like them,” one fourth-grader told the school board. “If you have a say in things, you appreciate them more.”
The fourth-graders painted the bathrooms during two days of spring break.
The problem-solving process has six steps: finding possible problems, determining which one is most important, brainstorming solutions, selecting criteria by which to judge the solutions, determining which solution is the best overall, and creating a detailed plan to implement that solution.
Changing behaviors is not easy. With their energetic and thoughtful implementations, these students may have had a positive effect on the Lino Lakes school community.