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Virtual Economics

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Lesson 19 - The Role of Government in Financial Markets
Learning, Earning and Investing: High School
The students read background information about why the U.S. government has become involved in the regulation of financial markets. Then they work in small groups on five hypothetical cases illustrating common violations in the financial industry as reported by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Role of government, Regulation of the securities markets

Lesson 2 - Goods and Services: Some Are Private, Some Are Not
Old MacDonald to Uncle Sam: Lesson Plans from Writers around the World
Students make construction paper cutouts of businesses and structures and create a community map bulletin board. Students analyze the goods and services available in their community to determine that some are privately produced and governments provide others. Students learn that taxes, fees, and loans pay for government goods and services.
Grade(s): 3-5, 6-8
Concepts: Government goods, Government services, Private goods, Private services, Taxes,

Lesson 4 - Uncle Sam's Checkbook
Old MacDonald to Uncle Sam: Lesson Plans from Writers around the World
Students learn about the components of federal income taxes and expenditures. They also create and analyze political cartoons relevant to federal taxes and expenditures.
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Income, Tax, Federal tax revenue, Payroll tax, Federal expenditures, Personal income tax,

Lesson 12 - Charting a Budget
Mathematics & Economics: Connections for Life - 6-8
In this lesson, students learn what a budget is. They construct a pie chart to show the distribution of expenses in a budget. They learn about payroll deductions and determine the impact that payroll deductions have on a budget. Finally, they learn that the U.S. federal government uses tax revenue to pay for the goods and services it uses and provides. They construct graphs that represent the fede...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Budget, Taxes, Government revenue, Budget surplus, Government expenditures

Lesson 6 - Public Goods and Services
Old MacDonald to Uncle Sam: Lesson Plans from Writers around the World
Students compare and define private and public goods. They receive money and must make a decision about paying for the heating in the classroom. This activity reinforces the concept of public goods and helps students identify and explain the free-rider problem. This lesson should be taught when the weather is cooler or cold.
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Private goods, Private services, Public goods, Public services, Non-exclusion, Shared consumption, Free-rider, Taxes,

Lesson 4 - The Environment: Who Loves Ya, Baby?
Economics and the Environment: Ecodetectives
The students participate in a simulation activity that illustrates how incentives influence the behavior of people trying to earn income. In a variation of the simulation activity, they observe the effects of rule changes. When the rules change, the incentives change, and new issues of cost arise. Then the students apply a similar analysis to open-pit mining operations, taking note of a shift in c...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Choice, External cost, Incentives, Opportunity cost

Lesson 11 - Where Does the Money Come From?
Focus: Middle School Economics
Students look at the categories of federal taxation, discuss them, and calculate the percentage of total taxes collected in each category.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Taxes, Categories of Federal Taxes, Excise Taxes, Payroll Taxes

Theme 4: Lesson 14 - Comparison Shopping
Financial Fitness for Life: Shaping Up Your Financial Future - Grades 6-8 - Teacher Guide
For some people, shopping is an art, and they spend hours and hours making a purchase decision. For others, the goal is to get in, buy it, and get out! Neither of these approaches is necessarily efficient. Making correct consumer choices requires a plan of action--one that neither takes too much of the consumer's time nor places the consumer in a vulnerable, misinformed position. In this lesso...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Comparison shopping, Consumer protection, Cost/benefit analysis

Lesson 14 - No Free Lunch
Focus: Middle School Economics
Students use a decision tree to analyze a budget problem at a public school
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Budget, Taxes, Cost-benefit analysis, Trade-offs

Lesson 10 - Where Does the Money Go?
Focus: Middle School Economics
Students look at the categories of federal spending, discuss them, and calculate the percentage of spending in each category.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Public Goods, Nonexclusion, Shared Consumption, Taxes, Categories of Spending, Interest

Lesson 13 - An Island Economy
Focus: Middle School Economics
Students participate in a "readers' theater" play too learn about gross domestic product.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Gross Domestic Product, Consumer Goods, Investment, Government expenditure, Exports, Imports

Lesson 3 - Gross Domestic Pizza
Roosters to Robots: Lesson Plans from Writers around the World
This lesson explores how gross domestic product (GDP) is determined. The major components of GDP are described. Students create and compare GDP pie charts for the countries of Pepperonia and Anchovia.
Grade(s): 3-5, 6-8
Concepts: GDP, Consumer goods, Investment goods, Government spending

Lesson 10 - Why Drive When You Can Ride?
Economics and the Environment: Ecodetectives
The students examine data showing that many Americans prefer to drive their own automobiles rather than use mass public transit. They analyze this preference by reference to the costs and benefits of driving. In light of the external costs generated by automobile travel, the students evaluate market-oriented proposals for decreasing those costs.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Benefit, Cost, Externality

Theme 5: Lesson 17 - What Taxes Affect You?
Financial Fitness for Life: Shaping Up Your Financial Future - Grades 6-8 - Teacher Guide
In a perfect world, we would be provided roads, schools, police, parks, and other public goods and services without the burden of taxation. However, in most cases, government must offer these goods and services, because private industry will not provide them.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Income tax, Sales tax, Property tax, Taxes

Lesson 13 - Forest Fires: Natural Catastrophes or Monsters We Have Created?
Economics and the Environment: Ecodetectives
The students examine information about the ongoing threat of catastrophic fires facing many forests in the United States, especially national forests in the West. They analyze possible explanations for the threat posed by fires and use economic reasoning to assess the explanations.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Incentives, Private property ownership, Profits

Lesson 12 - Recycling or Landfill Disposal: What Is the Best Way to Protect the Environment?
Economics and the Environment: Ecodetectives
The students investigate four proposed recycling programs (curbside recycling, newspaper recycling, recycling of aluminum cans, and banning disposable diapers from landfills) and decide whether the programs should be adopted or not. They use principles of economic reasoning to defend their positions and explain positions held by others.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Benefit, Choice, Cost, Incentives

Lesson 6 - How Can We Help Endangered Species?
Economics and the Environment: Ecodetectives
The students are presented with information about the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and examples of species appearing on the protected list. They examine the history of species protection under the ESA. They are asked to imagine how the ESA would work if it were applied in the case of a dog living in their neighborhood. Finally, they assess the incentives created by the law and its enforcement proc...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Anticipated benefits, Anticipated costs, Incentives

Lesson 9 - The Cost of Ignoring Economics and Geography
Middle School World Geography: Focus on Economics
In this lesson, the students learn how geography affects the costs of achieving an environmental goal. They remodel the classroom using a map showing several companies located along a river. They participate in a simulation that shows the impact of putting waste into the river. They are given the task of determining the least-costly way to reduce this impact. The task is complicated by the fact th...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Least-costly alternative, Incentive

Lesson 4 - Constructing and Using a Consumer Price Index
Mathematics & Economics: Connections for Life - 6-8
In this lesson, the students look at data for baby-sitting wages (a price for labor) and the price of movie tickets over time. They learn about the Consumer Price Index and how to construct a price index. They learn how a price index is used to compare incomes and prices of goods and services from year to year. They define nominal and real prices and wages.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Inflation, Price, Wage

Lesson 1 - The Problem of the Homeless Salmon
Economics and the Environment: Ecodetectives
This lesson introduces the principles of EcoDetection, a key element of EcoDetectives. By reference to the principles of EcoDetection, the lesson describes the problem of declining wild salmon populations and calls upon students to compare the life cycle of a wild salmon to the life cycle of a farmed salmon. The students use the principles of EcoDetection to evaluate a program to restore fish habi...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Benefits, Choice, Costs, Incentives

ONLINE LESSONS:

online Who Is Working?
This lesson teaches students what economists mean when they talk about people who are employed, unemployed, and not in the labor force. It discusses the Current Population Survey and asks students to pose as government survey workers to determine the employment status of 10 people given in the lesson. Students also create a bar graph and a line graph to create a picture of the information ...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Role of Government,Labor,Labor Force,Unemployment

online Taxation without Representation?
This lesson will take students through the series of tax acts that were enacted by the British government and disputed by the original 13 colonies of America prior to the American Revolution. Students will discuss the concept of government-provided services in exchange for taxes. Students will explain the specific taxes and the right of the English government to levy them in the context of...
Grade(s): 3-5, 6-8
Concepts: Economic Freedom,Exports,Government Expenditures,Government Revenues,National Debt,Role of Government,Taxation,Imports

online Dumptown, USA: Making a Ton of Difference
The amount of trash produced in the United States is mounting with each passing year. Communities are finding it increasingly difficult and costly to handle trash disposal. Recycling is considered a key solution to the garbage problem. In this lesson, students explore the extent to which various types of solid waste contribute to the problem. They then assume the role of city managers who must cho...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Budget,Choice,Cost/Benefit Analysis,Decision Making,Economic Efficiency,Incentive,Role of Government,Benefit,Costs,Marginal Analysis,Communities and Cities

online Worker Safety - The Triangle Fire Legacy
The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 was a turning point for employee health and safety protections in the U.S. Students investigate the Triangle tragedy and how its impact is still felt today. Students identify eerie parallels between the Triangle Fire and more recent workplace events with safety implications – recent complaints of Wal-Mart employee lock-ins, a deadly fire in a No...
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Cost/Benefit Analysis,Role of Government,Benefit,Costs,Labor,Labor Union,Special Interest Group

online Constitution Costs
This lesson helps students understand the basic services provided for Americans in the United States Constitution and the necessity of a system of taxation to fund those services. Students will debate the pros and cons of having governments fund and provide particular services.
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Aggregate Demand (AD),Budget,Role of Government,Taxation

online Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
This lesson introduces regulation and information as two tools used by government to promote fair competition and complete information in a market economy. Using the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act as a case study, students explore the reasons buyers and sellers asked the federal government to intervene with respect to food safety and quality. In a second activity, students examine how govern...
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Cost/Benefit Analysis,Decision Making,Maintaining Competition,Role of Government,Regulation

online Transportation: They Say We Had a Revolution (Part 1)
Advancements in transportation have played a key role in the growth of our nation. U.S.government policies have also had a considerable impact on the development of transport as we know it today. In this series of three lessons,the students examine transportation and its impact on our nation (and vice versa) since the United States declared its independence in 1776. Lesson 1 focuses on improvement...
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Economic Growth,Incentive,Inventors,Markets,Non-price Determinants,Price,Role of Government,Specialization,Supply,Technological Changes,Costs,Determinants of Supply,Gains from Trade,Investment,Standard of Living,Transaction Costs,Innovation

online Work, Earnings and Economics: Using 'Lyddie' by Katherine Paterson
To get started, the students will read Lyddie, a novel by Katherine Paterson. The novel is set mainly in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1840s. In Lowell the main character, 13-year-old Lyddie Worthen, works six days a week, from dawn until dusk, running weaving looms in a murky dust-and lintfilled factory, trying to save enough money to reunite her family. In reading and discussing this fine nov...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Budget,Choice,Decision Making,Economic Freedom,Economic Growth,Economic Wants,Human Resources,Incentive,Money Management,Opportunity Cost,Role of Government,Scarcity,Technological Changes,Borrower,Interest,Labor,Labor Union,Market Economy,Money,Resources,Special Interest Group,Standard of Living,Wants,Wage,Regulation,Savings,Savers

online Transportation: They Say We Had a Revolution (Part 3)
Advancements in transportation have played a key role in the growth of our nation. U.S. government policies have also had a considerable impact on the development of transport as we know it today. In this series of three lessons, the students examine transportation and its impact on our nation (and vice versa) since the United States declared its independence in 1776. Lesson 1 focuses on improvem...
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Competition,Incentive,Inventors,Profit Motive,Role of Government,Technological Changes,Investment,Profit,Property Rights,Innovation

online Why Adopt a Highway?
Students learn about the successful Adopt-a-Highway program and how it can save governments and taxpayers money.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Advertising,Opportunity Cost,Role of Government

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