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Free Tool: Categories List for Generating and Focusing Ideas

The categories list can be applied to each step of any research process about real world topics to expand thinking and approach themes from new or non-obvious directions. When generating ideas for completing a Future Problem Solving challenge, almost any issue or solution will fit into at least one of the categories on the Future Problem Solving categories list. The categories list usually serves as a sufficient starting point for identifying categories for any real world topic. Keep in mind not every topic has information related to every category on this list.

Arts include expression via music, painting, sculpture, theater, film, or other creative media. Aesthetics focuses upon beauty and whether something is pleasant to view or experience.

Basic Needs include food, clothing and shelter—elements important for survival.

Business includes retail stores, restaurants, offices, corporations, etc. Commerce focuses upon the trade or the buying and selling of goods and services.

Communication deals with the exchange of information.

Defense involves protection, safety, security, and/or privacy. This includes physical efforts by individuals, or groups as well as protection provided by firewalls and passwords.

Economics is the branch of knowledge that concerns the distribution, production, and consumption of wealth.

Education includes schools, training, instruction, and learning.

Environment includes one’s surroundings or conditions that shape the lives of people, plants, or animals.

Ethics include the principles that govern a person’s behavior. Morality involves principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong.

Culture includes the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular group. Religion includes a system of faith or worship.

Law includes the creation and enforcement of recognized laws, court procedures, sentencing, and personnel. Justice is the seeking of fairness and reasonable implementation of laws.

Government deals with how a community or country is managed. Politics involves elections and/or the activities related to making governmental decisions, especially debates or conflicts among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.

Miscellaneous is assigned when an idea does not fit within another category. If you have more than one Miscellaneous idea, and they are unrelated to each other, you may designate them as Miscellaneous 1 and 2.

Physical Health deals with the condition and care of the body as opposed to the mind.

Psychological Health focuses upon emotional and mental well-being.

Recreation includes hobbies, sports, entertainment, and other activities pursued during leisure time.

Science is the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world (including the wider universe) through observation and experiment.

Social Relationships encompass the connections between individuals with recurring interactions.

Technology is associated with machines, equipment, and/or certain advancements developed from applying practical or scientific knowledge.Transportation is concerned with the movement of individuals, groups, or goods from place to place.

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April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in Gifted Education. She earned the National Board Certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board Assessor for the certification of others. She was trained and applied the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities, which helped widen the educational scope and boundaries beyond the U.S. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for state level certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.