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Virtual Economics


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,

Lesson 5 - The Role of Government In a Market Economy
Economics in Action: 14 Greatest Hits for Teaching High School Economics
Students brainstorm suggestions about which functions government should perform in a market economy and compare their suggestions with categories economists frequently use. They participate in a quiz activity that shows the characteristics of public goods and explains why certain public goods are best provided by the government. They next participate in or observe a short play to determine when ne...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Externality, Market failure, Private-property rights, Public goods, Role of government in a market economy

Lesson 11: The Lancaster Landfill
Geography: Focus on Economics
Students participate in a simulated town meeting called to consider proposed solutions to the problem of groundwater contamination. Hazardous waste accumulated in a landfill over many years is creating the problem. The landfill is no longer in use, but it poses a risk to fish, wildlife, and people living nearby. Each student is provided with a specific role and a point of view.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Environment, Government Regulation, Hazardous Waste, Third Party Costs, Property Rights, Market Mechanism, Technology,

Lesson 7: Public Goods and Externalities
Focus: Institutions and Markets
This lesson gives students an opportunity to identify the nature of public and private goods, classify them according to the characteristics of rivalry and excludability, experience the impact of free riders and other external benefits and costs, and demonstrate that market-based solutions to externalities are often superior to inflexible government regulations.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Nonrival products, Nonexcludable products, Pure private goods and services, Pure public goods and services, External benefits and costs, Free riding,

Unit 4: Lesson 3 - Regulations of Business
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the 20th Century
Students are presented with an economic mystery. They read and discuss handouts concerning farmers' demands for government regulation of railroads and how the ensuing regulation created incentives which caused the Interstate Commerce Commission to become a "captured" agency. They apply their analysis to the deregulation of airlines and trucking in the late 1970s.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Regulation, Price, Incentive, Natural monopoly, Captured agency,

Unit 3: Lesson 9 - How Are Economic Solutions to Pollution Different from Political Solutions?
Civics and Government: Focus on Economics
After students have developed an understanding of externalities, they examine a case study of pollution in Los Angeles and determine a variety of solutions for this problem. The costs and benefits of these solutions are explored.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Externalities, role of government, Incentives,

Unit 3: Lesson 8 - Don't Rain On My Parade!
Economics and the Environment
Students play a trading game to learn the economic consequences of trades on the traders and on others who may be affected by the trades.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Externality, Negative externality, Positive externality, Allocative Efficiency,

Unit 5: Lesson 2 - The Constitution: Ground Rules for the Economy
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the Civil War
Students in small groups examine key economic clauses in the U.S. Constitution and discuss contemporary examples.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Incentives, Private property, Trade, Money, Taxation, Innovation,

Unit 3: Lesson 10 - Why Does the Federal Government Give Money to State and Local Governments?
Civics and Government: Focus on Economics
The class discusses the meaning of spillover benefits (positive externalities) and develops a list of goods and services provided by state or local governments that could result in positive externalities. The concept of fiscal federalism is discussed by examining why and how the Federal government would encourage state and local governments to increase their production of the items on the list. ...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Positive externalities, Spillover benefits, Incentives, Intergovernmental grants, Fiscal federalism,

Lesson 9 - Prohibition Then; MADD Today
United States History: Focus on Economics
Students read short histories of Prohibition and MADD and work in small groups to evaluate the consequences of these policies on consumers' behavior.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Choice, Costs/benefits, Incentives, Externalities (social consequences)

Lesson 10: Rich Man, Poor Man...
Focus: High School Economics
The issue of income distribution has been controversial throughout history. Decisions about the distribution of income are made by individuals and firms making exchanges in the markets for productive resources (inputs), and also through the political process. Public policies, such as taxation and transfer payments, are often targeted at particular income groups to redistribute income. Some of t...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Income, Transfer payments, Personal distribution of income, Functional distribution of income, Proprietors' income, Corporate profits,

Lesson 8: The Scope and Size of Government, and Other Institutions That Affect Economic Freedom
Focus: Institutions and Markets
Students compare U.S. federal government expenditures for two distinct periods spanning 40 years, and note changes in the levels and kinds of spending. The budget relationship between government spending, taxing, and borrowing is introduced, and then students consider the effects of proportional, progressive, and regressive systems of government tax and spending programs. Two additional activit...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Government expenditures, Taxes, Progressive tax and expenditure programs, Proportional tax and expenditure programs, Regressive tax and expenditure programs, Marginal tax rates,

Unit 3: Lesson 12 - Why Isn't Income Distributed More Equally?
Civics and Government: Focus on Economics
On day one, students review a list of selected occupations and categorize them according to median income. They brainstorm a list of reasons for income differentials and then review a list of conventional economic explanations. They review data on the personal distribution of income in the U.S. since 1950 to see how this distribution has changed over time. On the second day, students discuss va...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Income distribution, Economic incentives, Role of government,

Lesson 11: Public Goods and Services
Focus: High School Economics
Most goods and services produced in the marketplace are private goods and services. This kind of good or service is purchased by a consumer who desires it and can afford it, and then consumed only by that individual or anyone he or she gives it to. But some goods and services must be produced or provided by the public sector or government. Public goods and services are paid for through tax doll...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Public goods and services, Taxes, Nonexclusion principle, Shared consumption, 'Free riding' problems,

Unit 5: Lesson 26 - Public versus Private Goods
Capstone: Exemplary Lessons for High School Economics - Teacher's Guide
Students discuss the role of government in the economy. They complete an activity in which they classify goods and services as public or private.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Free rider, Non-exclusion, Public good, Private good, Shared consumption

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,

Unit 5: Lesson 24 - Government and the Environment
Capstone: Exemplary Lessons for High School Economics - Teacher's Guide
Students examine and discuss visuals to identify an economic mystery regarding the failure of the Endangered Species Act. They are introduced to the concepts of market failure and government failure. Using the Guide to Economic Reasoning, they focus on positive and negative externalities in analyzing the Endangered Species Act as an example of government failure.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Choice, Economic system, Externalities, Future consequences, Government failure, Incentives, Market failure, Opportunity cost, Voluntary trade

Unit 1: Lesson 1 - How Has the Constitution Shaped the Economic System in the United States?
Civics and Government: Focus on Economics
Students provide their own examples of the six characteristics of a market economy as they exist in the United States today. Then they see how the U.S. Constitution supports those characteristics by reading relevant portions of the Constitution, and matching these provisions with the six characteristics of a market economy. The lesson concludes by having the students read and discuss relevant po...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Private property, Freedom of enterprise, Freedom of choice, Motive of self-interest, Competition, Markets, Prices, Limited role of government,

Unit 3: Lesson 7 - We're All in This Together!
Economics and the Environment
Students look at case studies involving public products (woodlands and mosquito control). The public character of these products is shown to have an effect on how markets allocate resources.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Exclusion Principle, 'Free-rider' Problem, Allocative Efficiency,

Lesson 4 - Who Should Make the Food Safe?
United States History: Focus on Economics
Students role-play, participate in a class discussion, and analyze a graph depicting changes in a market to gain insight into ways in which government regulations affect the behavior of producers.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Cost, Competition, Incentives, Government regulation


online New Sense, Inc. vs. Fish 'Till U Drop or Coase Vs. Pigou
Hot debate and arguments galore whirl around this question: "Which economic approach is the most efficient and fair to resolve utility issues surrounding the use of common or public property?" This lesson will explore, examine and analyze this perplexing question by engaging in an open-ended role play simulation.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Externalities,Benefit,Costs,Property Rights,Public Goods,Transaction Costs,Monopolies

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 Green Eggs and ...Economics?
Economic concepts are often found in places students have never considered, like children’s literature. In this lesson, students will explore the various economic concepts addressed in five of Dr. Seuss' most popular books: The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham; The Lorax; Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and Horton Hears a Who!
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Externalities,Opportunity Cost,Specialization,Property Rights,Wants,Complements,Market Failures,Tragedy of the Commons,Utility

online Clean Land - Thanks to US!
In this lesson about the EPA, students will find out that their government pays for goods and services by taxing people and companies.
Grade(s): 3-5
Concepts: Externalities,Role of Government,Taxation

online Why cities provide tax breaks even when they are strapped for revenue
Like the state and federal government, local governments offer tax incentives to businesses to help solve economic and/or environmental problems. In this lesson students will explore the web sites of three different cities and determine what incentives are offered and what problems they are trying to solve. They will also be asked to determine if the benefits gained from the incentives off...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Cost/Benefit Analysis,Externalities,Incentive,Role of Government,Taxation,Communities and Cities

online AP Microeconomics - When Markets Fail
This lesson supports the Market Failure and the Role of Government section of the Advanced Placement Microeconomics curriculum. Students need to understand the conditions under which a competitive market fails to produce the socially-optimal quantity of a good or service.They also need to know what steps a government can take to correct a negative externality. This lesson appears as Lesson 2 in U...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Externalities,Role of Government,Negative Externality,Positive Externality

online The Mystery of is it Mine or Ours?
Did you ride to school on a road today? Yesterday did you skate in a public park? Maybe Mom or Dad traveled home from one of your ball games on their bicycles under a string of street lights? How did the road, the park or the street lights get there? Who paid for them? As a matter of fact, just who owns them? Sounds like a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes! Discuss with your class t...
Grade(s): 6-8
Concepts: Goods,Role of Government,Property Rights,Public Goods

online The Economics of the New Deal
The stock-market crash of 1929 is generally seen as the start of The Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the United States. The Depression had devastating effects on the country. But it also served as a wake-up call for economic reform. Until the Great Depression, the U.S. government had made very few modifications to the nation's economic policies. It left the dealings...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Role of Government,Fiscal Policy,Monetary Policy

online National Security Goals, the Federal Budget, and the National Debt
ESSENTIAL DILEMMA Can the United States make a decision to reduce or modify spending on defense without jeopardizing the country's security goals? 
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Budget Deficit,Government Expenditures,Federal Budget,Budget Surplus,Poverty,Disincentive

online Distribution of Income
Students engage in a simulation to explore how productivity influences the distribution of income and how government policy influences the redistribution of income. They calculate measures of central tendency for the entire class, their group's percentage of total classroom income, and graph the Lorenz curve as a representation of the income distribution using an online graphing tool. Students...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Redistribution of Income,Distribution of Income,Productivity,Income Inequality,Lorenz Curve,Gini Coefficient

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