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2020 - 2021 VAFPS State Bowl Rules

A PDF copy of these rules can be found HERE.  A DOC copy of these rules can be found HERE

New This Year

This year, Future Problem Solving of Virginia Board of Directors voted to use the Future Problem Solving Program International’s online platform, FPSOnline for this year’s Global Issues Problem Solving and Scenario Writing practices and competitions.  Coaches will receive their login information after completing the regular VAFPS online program registration form.  Strict adherence to timelines and submission requirements will be essential as we move to this online platform.  Future Problem Solving Program International is currently working to open portals for Community Problem Solving team/individual as well as Scenario Performance submissions.  Coaches will be notified when this portal has been made available for their participants’ submissions.

Qualifying for State Bowl

State bowl bids are based solely on results of Qualifying Problem booklets.


All booklets are evaluated and rank ordered in the first round. Booklets receiving a rank of one or two are re- evaluated in the second round. Each Round Two booklet is assigned a TRS (total rank sum) which is the sum of a team’s ranks after successive rounds of evaluation. The TRS range is 2-8 (for example: 1+1=2, 2+1=3, 2+6=8).


District bids are filled first, with the best team(s) in each geographic district invited, up to the guaranteed allocation per grade level division.


If a clear winner cannot be determined after round two, booklets go to a third round of head-to-head competition among teams within a particular district. After district bids are determined, all remaining second round teams are placed in the at-large pool.


Each division’s allocation of at-large bids will be filled according to the second round TRS. At-large slots are filled according to quality regardless of district. Some situations may require an additional third round run-off. After each division’s at-large bid allocations are filled, stand-by teams may be selected from the highest-ranking teams remaining in the at-large pools.


At-large bid opportunities for yearlong individual competitors will be determined by the number of entries submitted in each division, and the quality of the submissions as determined by the Evaluation Director.

Coaches may purchase memberships until Friday, January 3, 2020. Teams or yearlong individuals registering after the registration deadline will be assessed a late fee.


Each evaluator is responsible for extrapolating and adding sub-scores, total scores, and ranks. All qualifying problem scoresheets will be re-checked for mathematical accuracy. Any error in calculation which could affect a team's qualification for the State Bowl should be immediately reported to the State Director. Future Problem Solving of Virginia reserves the right to adjust the number of state bowl teams to include teams who did not receive a bid due to an error.


A team must be in good standing with the Virginia program to participate in the VAFPS state bowl.

Team Qualifying Problem Terms

At-large bids—state bowl invitations to the best teams that did not qualify for a district bid, based on a predetermined allocation of at-large bids. The at-large pool is composed only of second round teams who did not win district bids.

Bid—an invitation to the state bowl.

Geographic district—area in which all teams participating in Future Problem Solving, representing either public or independent schools or composed or sponsored in any other way, are assigned for the purpose of competing for district bids. Geographic districts are determined by the public school boundary of the locality.

District bid—state bowl invitation that is automatically extended to the highest-ranking team(s) in a particular geographic district, based on an established allocation policy. The 2019-2020 formula is one bid for each geographic district in each grade-level division in which the geographic district participates and one bid for each additional ten registered teams.

TRS (total rank sum)—sum of a team’s ranks after successive evaluation rounds.

Stand-by team—selected teams remaining in the at-large pools after bid allocation are filled. Selection will be based solely on booklet quality. If a division’s at-large pool is empty, stand-by status will be awarded to the highest-ranking teams regardless of division. When a bid receiving team is unable to accept a state bowl bid, an invitation to participate in the competition will be extended to highest- ranking stand-by team.

Division—competitive level of a team, based on grade level. (Junior: grades 4-6, Middle: grades 7-9, Senior: grades 10-12, Adult: post high school) The division of a team is based on the level of the student in the highest grade.

Host bid—additional bid extended to state bowl host school. The host bid will be selected based on booklet quality after the district’s bid allocation is filled.

The Individual Competition

Individuals follow team competition rules in the booklet preparation and competition for a state bowl invitation. An Individual completes all six steps when preparing a booklet.


Practice Problem 1 is an abbreviated booklet that requires only four challenges, one underlying problem, four solution ideas, three criteria for evaluation, three solutions on the grid, and an action plan. If more is written in the booklet, only the components noted above will be evaluated.


For Practice Problem 2 and the Qualifying Problem competitors generate eight challenges in step one and eight solution ideas in step three. In step five, the individual applies criteria to four solution ideas to determine the best solution for his/her action plan.


The number of state bowl invitations will be determined by division registrations and the quality of submissions. Slots are filled according to quality regardless of district.


During the state bowl competition, each individual will prepare a booklet using the official state bowl future scene. Individuals will complete all steps. The only difference between team and individual booklets will be the required number of challenges and solution ideas. (Individuals only write eight challenges, eight solution ideas, and apply criteria to four solution ideas.)


Ties, after two rounds of competition, will be broken through paired-comparison evaluation.


Individuals must take part in the presentation competition with participants* from their geographic district in the appropriate age division to be eligible for individual competition awards.

Presentation of the Action Plan Competition

Guidelines and rules for the Presentation of the Action Plan and scoring guidelines for Virginia participants will be posted on the program website in advance of the Virginia state bowl and are included in the “Virtual State Bowl” document shared with coaches.  Presentations will be submitted electronically to a FlipGrid code provided to each team through the Presentation of Action Plan Planning Document emailed to each coach by 8 AM on April 23.  This code nor any team skit should be shared through any social networking platform.  A violation of this Intellectual Property FPSPI Policy will result in the assessment of a financial penalty to team members, coach or family member responsible for posting.

State Bowl Protocols

The topic of the State Bowl problem will be Personalized Medicine.

Virtual State Bowl


Competitors will have access to the future scene through the online system at the time of their login. Each team will set their 2-hour competition with teammates between 8 AM and 5 PM on April 23rd.  Once the team’s booklet has been logged into by one team member, the online system begins counting down their 2-hours, so it is very important that coaches set an agreed upon time to complete their competition booklet with all team members.  Team members are cautioned not to enter the competition until the predetermined time.  Competition time will not be reset if a member accidentally logs in in advance of the rest of the team.


Each competitor must have a designated monitor present throughout the two hour competition.  A monitor is defined as an adult (18+) who will oversee the competitor’s participation in the virtual competition and be the point of contact should an emergency arise.  Coaches must register monitors as part of the State Bowl registration.


The monitor may assist participants in finding the best place in which to work and should check that no written materials relating to the state bowl topic Personalized Medicine or the Future Problem Solving process are present since they may not be used during the competitive session. All reference materials, except dictionaries and thesauruses, are also prohibited. 


Students should have a supply of scrap paper and/or Post-It notes and writing utensils in their work space.  Teams may share snapshots of their notes or may use the chat feature in the online system to share ideas about the topic, future scene or the FPS process once the electronic booklet is opened.  Any exchange of information prior to the team logging in is considered a violation.


No electronic devices (including calculators, spell checkers, electronic thesauruses, and computers) may be used by participants. The coach must have requested exceptions for special circumstances in advance of the competitor’s registration. 


Participants may use more than one device to access their FPSOnline account so that the future scene can be viewed on one device and the booklet on another.   A maximum of four (4) tabs may be open on any combination of devices, FPSOnline booklet, FPSOnline future scene copy, online dictionary and one video meeting app (FaceTime, Google Hangout, Skype, etc.).  Teams should not use other shared apps or programs for sharing ideas that can be copied and pasted into the FPSOnline platform.  The platform does not accept the formatting code from other programs and the ability for the platform to function correctly requires that all work be keyed into the FPSOnline booklet.  Participants should have no tabs open relating to the FPS process, the topic or research notes created prior to the start of the 2-hour timed competition session.


Coaches are responsible for ensuring that all team participants are familiar with the rules of the competition. The coach, each student  and proctor must also sign the statement affirming adherence to the rules through the State Bowl Honor Code link included in coach and proctor information before an entry can be certified for competitive ranking.


The Evaluation Director will supervise State Bowl evaluation.


The State Bowl Certification Committee will monitor state bowl evaluation procedures. Prior to announcement of results at the awards ceremony, the committee will certify that all established procedures were followed. The certified decision of the evaluators, announced at the state bowl, is final.


If an error is discovered that would have affected the first and second place rankings, the Executive Board may submit the names of affected competitors as alternates to the International Conference.


A team must be in good standing with the Virginia program to participate in the International Conference.


Community Problem Solving (CmPS)

Virginia follows international evaluation guidelines to select CmPS project winners prior to the state bowl competition. For rules governing student projects eligible for international competition, refer to guidelines sent to each participating coach.

All teams and individuals that submit projects for the competition are invited to participate in the CmPS Fair at the Virginia State Bowl for 2020-21. Awards are presented for winning projects. CmPS team participation at the bowl is limited to fifteen students and five adults. Additionally, first place CmPS projects meeting an eighty percent Virginia evaluation and guidelines set forth by the rules governing the international program in each division win the right to represent Virginia at the FPSP International Conference.

Scenario Writing

In order to comply with the International calendar, Virginia’s winners in each division are declared and submitted for International consideration in February. For rules governing scenario entries, refer to guidelines sent to each registered coach.


The Virginia Affiliate program pays for the submission of the first place scenario in each division.  Second and third place writers, based on the quality of their scenario, are invited to submit their scenario to the international program at their own registration cost.


All place winners are recognized and receive awards. First place winners in each division are encouraged to read their winning scenario at the state bowl. Additionally, writers of first place scenarios in each division win the right to represent Virginia at the FPSP International Conference.

Scenario Performance

Scenario Performance is a year-long storytelling program. Storytellers select one topic from the 2020-2021 practice problem topics that interests them and crafts a story that is not written in full but told in a spontaneous manner. Entries are submitted following guidelines provided in materials provided to registered coaches.  Scenario Performance participants are required to submit their Qualifying Performance for the topic Human Environmental Impact following the submission guidelines provided in the coaching materials.


The number of state bowl invitations will be determined by division registrations and the quality of submissions. Slots are filled according to quality regardless of district. Invited Scenario Performance competitors will research the State Bowl topic, Personalized Medicine, and prepare a 4 - 5 minute story to entertain an audience. The performance will include voice and hand movements only; props and physical “acting” and/or background and special effects are not permitted. Additionally, first place Scenario Performance meeting an eighty percent Virginia evaluation and guidelines set forth by the rules governing the international program in each division win the right to represent Virginia at the FPSP International Conference.

Electronic Sharing

Coaches and teams are cautioned not to share, in any electronic form, information regarding the future scenes or completed booklets during the competition year since Affiliate Programs do not all share the same competition dates. All materials produced by Future Problem Solving Program International contain publication warnings.


These warnings are to be taken very seriously. Teams, individuals or coaches publicly posting (websites, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) will be responsible for paying the penalty assigned by Future Problem Solving Program International for this publication violation.


Additionally, coaches are responsible for advising parents and guardians not to publicly post video they may take of teams competing in Presentation of Action Plan. Similarly, teams with Presentation of Action Plan posted skits, in part or whole, will incur a financial penalty.

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