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Example: Future Scene – Biosecurity

Set in 2050, newly discovered spores of an extinct plant and the possibility of reanimating and introducing them into a protected reserve bring up biosecurity issues. Dr. Svendson, an engineer from an underwater biosecurity lab New Atlantis, is considering a new project. He thinks about the risks and opportunities of reanimating the species from DNA found in fossilized spores and its reintroduction into a compatible environment before a symposium addressing this challenge.

Additional Information
Competition Season: 2017 International Conference
Divisions: Middle/Senior
Context: In competition, students see the future scene for the first time right as they begin their timed writing submission. They must consider the parameters (time, topic, and place) of the future scene when working through the problem-solving process.
Topic: Biosecurity
Time: 2050 and beyond
Place: Zealandia
Original Formatting: See the future scene with its original formatting in an attached PDF below.

Biosecurity Future Scene

Dr. Øystein Svendson is the Chief Biosecurity Engineer in New Atlantis, an underwater international seed vault that houses the world’s germplasm (living genetic resources, both natural and genetically manipulated, used to maintain the biodiversity levels of the world’s flora). The facility, built underwater on Zealandia’s continental shelf, provides a secure pressure and temperature-controlled environment for the germplasm’s storage. Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) operates New Atlantis. To ensure international biosecurity protocols, GCDT hires only the most experienced botanists, genetic engineers, and biosecurity experts from around the world to work at New Atlantis. Latest information from the surface shows a rising threat of indigenous plant species’ extinction around the world, causing concerns among the scientific community.

Dr. Svendson’s thoughts whirl in his mind and materialize on the holo-board in front of him. This thought-visualizer is great, especially during times like these when he needs to clarify his thoughts by projecting them onto the holo-board.

“New Atlantis seed vault facility is charged with the protection of historic plants and the reintroduction of these endangered species into environments where they can best grow and thrive. Our latest project involves the reanimation of an extinct plant species from DNA found in fossilized spores and its reintroduction into a compatible environment. Unfortunately, this process is hampered by countries whose fear of hybridization has resulted in stringent biosecurity restrictions. I’m afraid that this project may be in great danger if it is viewed as an unnecessary biosecurity threat. But how can we advance science if we don’t take some risks?”

Today GCDT personnel are preparing to receive a shipment of spores from a recently discovered horsetail fossil of the genus Calamite. Calamites lived about 300 million years ago. Paleo-botanists in northern Europe, where the specimen was found, claim that reanimation of this species poses no danger of hybridization. They further note that the knowledge science can glean from its reanimation outweighs any biosecurity risks. However, environmental activists claim that the effects of the reintroduction of an ancient plant species into a new environment cannot be determined.

“After I transport the spores back to New Atlantis, our botanists will extract the DNA from these spores and begin the reanimation process of the ancient Calamite species. Of course, in order to improve the plants’ viability, we will need to modify the genes to increase pollen production. The best opportunity for growth of the species will be within the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve in Costa Rica. The soil type, temperature, and humidity levels of this rainforest are most like the area where these plants originally flourished. However, I’m still worried. When we transfer the Calamites to the rainforest, New Atlantis won’t have direct control of the plants or their environment.”

The scientific community is excited over this latest discovery and its potential for advancing new procedures for extinct plant reanimation. GCDT has scheduled a symposium to coincide with Dr. Svendson’s arrival in Europe. Paleo-botanists, pro-experimental environmentalists, and genetic engineers are scheduled to explain the merits of the introduction of non-indigenous flora into Costa Rica’s ecosystems. Government leaders and concerned environmentalists from Costa Rica are also expected to be in attendance. Dr. Svendson realizes that he will be embroiled in another ecological debate about the role of New Atlantis in biosecurity issues. He also knows that input from an independent agency will be invaluable. Thus, he opens his communication board, dictates the following message, and converts it to video transfer protocol encryption. He sends it to the Executive Director of Future Problem Solving for immediate relay to teams of problem solvers around the world.

“2050.07.15. Problem Solvers of the International Community, I need your help. Please use your expertise to address an important biosecurity challenge facing the reanimation of Calamites by New Atlantis. We would like you to present your Action Plan at the symposium in September.”

Disclaimer: Future scene may have been adjusted by Future Problem Solving for format, clarity and content.

Attachment – Competition PDF (Middle)

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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.