EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Future Problem Solvers Enjoy Present Success

By ARIADNE WILL

Sentinel Staff Writer

Sitka’s junior division of Future Problem Solvers took fifth at the international competition in early June.

The competition was held over Zoom and was attended by teams from 14 countries and 42 U.S. states.

Members of the Sitka team were Calder Prussian, Justin Hames, Liam Laybourn, and Angela Bahna, all seventh graders.

Olivia Skan, also entering seventh grade, competed at a separate FPS international competition as an individual team. That meant she completed the problem packet by herself, instead of with three teammates.

She will receive her results Thursday.

Although Skan competed apart from the other team, Sitka junior FPS team coach KK Prussian said Skan and the others all practiced together.

“Olivia was also studying and preparing for the same topic at state and internationals (as the other team),” the coach said.

KK is the mother of Calder Prussian – who’s on the FPS junior team – and has been coaching the kids since they were fourth graders at Keet Gooshi Heen.

“This group has persevered,” she said. “They are the first group of kids that are involved in FPS that were not a product of the school district program.”

FPS was once part of the Sitka School District’s accelerated learning program, but became a volunteer-based activity in 2017 when it was cut from the accelerated curriculum. 

This separates the Sitka FPS team from other teams around the world, who have an FPS class and teacher.

“A lot of the teams do FPS every day.” said Liam Laybourn. “We only meet once a week for an hour, most of the time.”

As for taking fifth at internationals, “We didn’t think it would be possible.” he said.

After hunker-down mandates were put in place in the spring, Sitka’s junior team found time to have sessions outside of their weekly schedule.

“Initially I was organizing meetings,” Coach Prussian said. “But this group ... would organize meetings (too). They met (without me) way more often than I met with them.”

During practices, the kids would do activities to help them learn more about topics they would be asked to solve in competition.

Each competition – qualifying, state, and international – gives the student participants a problem to solve. 

The problems range from terraforming (making environments and planets easier for people to live in), to gamification (turning tasks, such as chores, into a game), to poverty.

“A lot of the time we find articles or videos or challenges,” said Justin Hames. “We (go through the problem-solving process) with things that aren’t FPS but that are kind of related to the topic.”

The team also practiced coming up with solutions, which were usually imaginative and often outrageous. 

“At internationals we had Gucci suits (in our solution),” said Laybourn. “They reflect solar radiation and keep people safe when they wear them.”

He added that the suits would be a collaboration between the fashion brand Gucci and NASA.

By thinking outside the box in this way, the team was also completing their “categories.”

“We have 16 categories that we will write a solution for. When you have one of each you get extra points,” explained Angela Bahna.

KK Prussian said that the idea of categories encourages the kids to brainstorm.

“Categories consist of things like economics, military defense, recreation, health, and mental health,” she said. “If you’re forced to put your topic into different categories it really gives you an avenue for brainstorming.”

She said the other strong aspect of FPS is the way it encourages the kids to work as a team.

“(It’s) knowing that the strengths of one might be the weaknesses of another and trusting in your team and learning how to build upon everybody’s strengths,” she said. “The diversity of a team is what makes it strong.”

 

 

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-7-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.

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