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Virtual Economics

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Lesson 13 - Comparative Advantage and Trade in a Global Economy
Economics in Action: 14 Greatest Hits for Teaching High School Economics
Students observe or participate in a role-play situation in which one person is better at both of two activities. They complete a work sheet that leads to the conclusion that specialization and exchange make both people better off. Then they apply this situation to international trade and to the concepts of absolute advantage and comparative advantage. In small groups, they identify winners and lo...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Absolute advantage, Barriers to trade, Comparative advantage, Opportunity cost, Specialization, Voluntary trade

Lesson 1 - Why People Trade
Economics in Action: 14 Greatest Hits for Teaching High School Economics
Students participate in a trading simulation and use this experience to discover the benefits of free trade. In a class discussion, they relate the simulation to concepts of regional versus universal trade, trade barriers and diminishing marginal value. They explain why both parties benefit from the trade.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Barriers to trade, Benefits of trade, Incentives, Trade, Voluntary exchange, (Optional) Utility

Lesson 11: "Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Why Do We Need the WTO?"
Focus: Institutions and Markets
Several activities are used to introduce students to six international institutions that play important economic roles, especially in the areas of international trade, finance, and development: the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: International economic institutions, Gains from trade, Tariffs, Public goods, Market failures, Monetary policy, Property rights, Competition,

Unit 5: Lesson 4 - Entrepreneurship Case Study: Adam Smith
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the Civil War
Students use statements from The Wealth of Nations as primary sources. They discuss distinctions between mercantilist economies and market economies.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Mercantilism, Market, Incentives, Trade, Specialization,

Lesson 7: Mutual (and Comparative) Advantages
The Wide World of Trade
Using numerical examples and bar graphs, students see why it benefits two countries to specialize in the production of one of two products and then trade with each other, even if one country has the resources and technology to produce more of either good than the other country. The last section of this lesson can be used as a challenge activity.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Exchange, Specialization, Opportunity cost, Comparative advantage,

Lesson 12: Factors Influencing Balance of Payments
Focus: International Economics
Students read a list of various events and transactions. They determine how the events and transactions influence the balance of payments. By reference to Visuals 1 and 2 in Lesson 11, they determine how different transactions influence the demand for and supply of dollars.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Comparative Advantage, Specialization, Trade

Lesson 3: Everyone Is Interdependent
The Wide World of Trade
In this lesson, students learn about resources from around the world that are used in the production of a specific product -- Hershey's Kisses. Students then determine the identity of a mystery product using clues about world resources that are used to produce it. In both activities, students use world maps to identify trade flow patterns. Through the activities, they learn about economic inter...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Productive resources, Exchange, Specialization, Interdependence, Benefits of trade,

Lesson 4: Trading Around the World
Focus: International Economics
Students first analyze and discuss information on the major U.S. trading partners. Then they identify the parent countries of businesses that produce familiar brand name products. Finally, students participate in an activity to identify the countries where clothing and other items seen in their classroom were produced.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Trade, Specialization, Interdependence, Free Trade, Trade Barriers

Lesson 7: Shady Creatures and the Problem of Special Interest Groups
Focus: Economic Systems
A trading simulation is first used to demonstrate the benefits of free trade. In a later round trade is restricted, which helps a small group of people but hurts many more. Students use basic arithmetic to see why it would be in the economic interest of the small number of people to support the trade restrictions, but not in the interests of most other people to spend much time, effort, or money...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Benefits of Trade, Restrictions on Trade (Tariffs Nontariff barriers Import Quotas Voluntary Export Restrictions), Public Choice Theory, Special Interest Groups

Lesson 6: Limiting Trade
Geography: Focus on Economics
Students read narrative describing various types of trade restrictions and their effects, engage in a circle debate about the imposition of a new tariff, evaluate the arguments in favor of and against the tariff, and apply the model described in the narrative to determine who will benefit and who will be hurt by the tariff.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Tariffs, Quotas, Embargoes, Licensing Requirements, Standards, Subsidies, Infant Industry, Strategic Industry, Exports, Imports, Terms of Trade,

Unit 5: Lesson 1 - Problems Under the Articles of Confederation
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the Civil War
This lesson begins with discussion of the economic problems facing the new nation. Students read and discuss information in a handout; then they make predictions abo9ut effects on economic growth.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Debt, Tax, Tariff, Trade, Currency,

Lesson 11: Why Are There Foreign Currency Markets?
The Wide World of Trade
After listing some of their own buying and selling activities, students recognize that most people and families are both buyers and sellers who make exchanges in different kinds of markets. The relationship between output markets for goods and services and input markets for productive resources is shown in the simplest picture or model of a market economy - the circular flow of income. Buying an...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Markets, Circular flow, International trade, Imports, Exports, Currency exchange,

Lesson 9: Why Restrict Trade?
The Wide World of Trade
Students learn some things about steel and identify a variety of products that are produced with steel. They participate in an activity to help them analyze the costs and benefits of a tariff. Students learn about special-interest groups and consider the arguments people and organizations use to support the imposition of trade barriers.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Trade barriers, Special interest groups, Interdependence, Cost-benefit analysis,

Unit 2: Lesson 2 - Did Native Americans Act Economically?
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the Civil War
This lesson gives two examples of puzzling behavior that can be explained by applying economic reasoning to the historical situation.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Specialization, Exchange, Economic systems, Medium of exchange, Markets, Productivity,

Lesson 6 - Joining Together That Which Has Drifted Apart
Middle School World Geography: Focus on Economics
In this lesson, the students learn about the physical forces that move people on different continents further apart and the economic forces that bring them together. They read about the formation and breakup of two great continents, Laurasia and Gondwana, over 150 million years ago. They learn that continents are still moving today. They take the role of workers on these two continents who are pro...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Productivity, Production possibilities, Opportunity cost, Absolute advantage, Comparative advantage ,Specialization

Lesson 7: Let's Trade
Master Curriculum Guides in Economics: Teaching Strategies - 3-4
Barter is the direct exchange of goods and services between people, without using money. People voluntarily exchange goods and services because they expect to be better off after the exchange. When people use barter to facilitate exchange, a "double coincidence of wants" must occur, that is, a person who wants to trade a good or service must find a trading partner who wants that good or service ...
Grade(s): 3-5
Concepts: Barter, Specialization, Interdependence,

Unit 4: Lesson 1 - Understanding the Colonial Economy
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the Civil War
Students examine data on visuals to gain an overview of the colonial economy. Next, they read and discuss a handout to gain a fuller picture. The lesson concludes with several applications presented in an activity.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Incentives, Trade, Market, Specialization, Choice,

Lesson 8: Something's in the Way
The Wide World of Trade
The class is divided into two groups that participate in a simulation making two types of postcards. In the first round, each group specializes and then considers possible results from trading for the postcard it didn't produce. In the second round, trade restrictions force each group to produce both types of postcards. Students see how free trade increases worldwide material standards of livin...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Imports, Exports, Trade Barriers, Tariff, Quota, Embargo, Subsidy, Standard, Specialization,

Lesson 2: Special Friends
The Wide World of Trade
Pairs of students play the roles of two friends who have chores to complete before they can spend time together. Through trial-and-error, students discover the benefits of specialization and trade. A second activity identifies reasons why people, businesses, and countries gain by specializing in the production of some goods and services.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Exchange, Specialization,

Lesson 3 - Why Would You Raise Chickens When You Don't Like Eggs? or Why Did Farmers Specialize?
United States History: Focus on Economics
Students analyze maps and farmers' choices to explain the impact that barter had on the decline of subsistence farming and the growth of single-crop farming. They develop theories to explain why incentives influenced farmers to become less self-sufficient, to specialize and trade.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Choice, Specialization, Trade, Barter

ONLINE LESSONS:

online The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Are the Presidential Candidates Telling the Whole Story?
Compelling question: Are the presidential candidates telling the whole story about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Comparative Advantage,Trade,Globalization,Trade Barriers

online THE U.S. SUGAR PROGRAM: A Matter of National Security or Corporate Welfare?
ESSENTIAL QUESTION: Is the U.S. Sugar Program a necessary defense against disruptive global trade practices or lavish corporate welfare at the expense of the American consumer and commerce? Government policies often impact the mechanisms that the free market uses to set prices and every president has to deal with how to shape those government policies. In this lesson, students examine one exampl...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Price Floor,Role of Government,Imports,Quotas,Trade,Trade Barriers

online The Trading Game
In this lesson, students will learn about the gains from trade. Students will participate in a trading game that will demonstrate that trade can make everyone better off.
Grade(s): 6-8, 9-12
Concepts: Exchange,Exports,Gains from Trade,Imports,Trade

online International Trade Creates More and Better Jobs
This lesson explores the relationship between productivity and international trade. Specifically, this lessons shows why there should be fewer trade restrictions rather than more.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Exchange,Specialization

online Specialization and the Decathlon
This lesson uses results from the 2008 Summer Olympic Games to explain that athletes specialize in sports and events for which they are most skilled for the same reasons that individuals and nations specialize in the production of goods and services for which they have an absolute or a comparative advantage.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Absolute Advantage,Opportunity Cost,Specialization,Comparative Advantage,Productivity

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 Hawaiian Economics: Barter for Fish & Poi
In ancient Hawaii, chiefs managed the economy by creating a land division system, the Ahupua'a, which divided the islands into pie slice shapes. Each Ahupua'a covered the three main regions of the islands: the mountains, the valleys, and the beach. This system was designed to allow all Hawaiian communities equal access to the limited natural resources of the islands. However, it took a lot...
Grade(s): 3-5
Concepts: Barter,Division of Labor,Exchange,Interdependence,Natural Resources,Specialization,Productivity

online Economic Spotter: Trade in Colonial History
Students take a trip back in time and spot economic concepts in a historical fiction tale. This time frame features Boston Harbor around 1680.
Grade(s): 3-5
Concepts: Exchange,Specialization

online Frontier Specialists
The level of output in an economy can be increased through specialization. Economic specialization occurs when people produce different goods and services than they consume. It requires people to exchange goods and services.
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Absolute Advantage,Exchange,Goods,Interdependence,Specialization,Comparative Advantage,Services

online Agent Pincher: The Case of the UFO
Agent Pincher: The Case of the UFO--Unfamiliar Foreign Objects. That is what currency from another country may look like. Sometimes when people first try to use money from another country, they feel like they are playing with toy money-it is a different size, color, and shape, compared to one's own national currency, and it often comes with unfamiliar writing. As a special agent, your job is get ...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Exchange,Exchange Rate,Exports,Currency,Imports,Money

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