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Virtual Economics


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

Lesson 13: Public Choice: Economics Goes to Washington and into the Voting Booth
Focus: High School Economics
Economist James Buchanan won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1987, for pioneering work he had done with Gordon Tullock and others in the new field of public choice economics. This approach applies the basic economic way of thinking to group decisions made through the electoral process or by some government body. That means thinking of voters, elected officials, and government employees as people...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Self-interest, Expected benefits of voting, Expected costs of voting, Information and search costs, Special interest effects, Government failure,

Unit 3: Lesson 13 - Whose Interest is Being Served?
Civics and Government: Focus on Economics
Students learn the difference between general interest and special interest issues. They play the role of U.S. Representatives and, given information about benefits and costs, vote on enactment of government programs. Then they discuss several government programs and attempt to identify beneficiaries.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Costs of government programs, Benefits of government programs, Special interest issue, General interest issue, Logrolling,

Unit 9: Lesson 5 - Why Does the U.S. Government Discourage World Trade?
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the 20th Century
Students will use supply and demand analysis to analyze potential costs and gains for producers and consumers of a protectionist law for mattresses. They will use this analysis to predict potential levels of political support for two other protectionist laws.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Incentives, Protectionism, Rent-seeking,

Unit 5: Lesson 28 - The Economics of Voting
Capstone: Exemplary Lessons for High School Economics - Teacher's Guide
Students examine a visual to identify patterns of voter turnout in U.S. presidential elections. They analyze the costs and benefits of voting and discuss how people's voting behavior is influenced by incentives.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Choice, Incentives, Rational ignorance

Unit 5: Lesson 27 - The Economics of Special Interest Groups
Capstone: Exemplary Lessons for High School Economics - Teacher's Guide
Students learn about the diverse nature of special interest groups and read examples that show how incentives influence the actions of elected officials.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Competition, Incentives, Interest group

Unit 9: Lesson 2 - Why Does the Federal Government Overspend its Budget?
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the 20th Century
The teacher will present a definition of "federal budget deficits" and provide a historical overview of deficits since 1960. Students will use the HDG principles to predict levels of support for different proposals to reduce the deficit.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: National debt, Deficit, Incentives,

Lesson 17: Entrepreneurs and government intervention
Master Curriculum Guide: Economics and Entrepreneurship
All firms exist within the context of society and its governmental system. Business activity certainly can contribute to the goals of society. On the other hand, the interests of society sometimes can conflict with those of individual entrepreneurs and businesses.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Role of Government, Government Intervention, Cost of Government Regulation, Externalities, Laissez-faire, Minimum Wage,

Chapter 4: Lesson 1 - The Electoral College Mystery
The Great Economic Mysteries Book: A Guide to Teaching Economic Reasoning, Grades 9-12
Students describe an economic mystery and discuss various explanations. They use an Activity sheet with a list of clues to help them arrive at a solution for the mystery.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Government Failures/Public-Choice Analysis, Incentives, Roles of Government

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,

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,

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 7: Lesson 4 - The New Deal
United States History: Eyes on the Economy - Through the 20th Century
Using a "bathtub" model, the teacher that government spending raises aggregate demand and that taxes lower aggregate demand. Working in groups, students complete on worksheet about New Deal policies and another about other forces affecting aggregate demand during the Great Depression. Students write brief answers to three essay questions.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Aggregate demand, Depression, Government spending, Taxation, Inflation,

Lesson 6: Too Much Regulation?
Focus: Institutions and Markets
In this lesson, students first read an excerpt from The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair in 1906. Then they learn about the numerous regulations that govern the production and sales of a hamburger today, and about some government regulatory offices and agencies. Finally, they consider the question: How much regulation is enough?
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Government regulation, Costs, Benefits, Cost-Benefit analysis,

Unit 6: Lesson 36 - Should We Worry About the National Debt?
Capstone: Exemplary Lessons for High School Economics - Teacher's Guide
Students discuss the size of the current national debt and what this means. A class discussion covers the causes of the debt, how it is financed, definitions of a budget deficit and budget surplus, and the difference between a budget deficit and a trade deficit. Students then participate in an activity presenting different perspectives on whether the national debt is a problem of major concern.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Bonds, Budget deficit, Budget surplus, National (public) debt

Unit 4: Lesson 16 - How Can Economic Sanctions Be Part of U.S. Foreign Policy?
Civics and Government: Focus on Economics
Students examine the data on U.S. imports, exports, and foreign aid, and explore how economic sanctions can be used to attain overall U.S. foreign policy goals. In small groups they do research to determine how the United States has used economic sanctions from 1980 to the present and analyze the success of using economic policy as a part of foreign policy.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Role of government, Economic sanctions,

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 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)

Unit 5: Lesson 14 - Buying Environmental Quality at Discount Prices
Economics and the Environment
Students play the role of company representatives and regulators in an attempt to reduce emissions of HW700 (a fictitious pollutant) in the least-costly manner possible.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Markets, Supply, Demand, Economic Incentives, Cost Effectiveness, Emission Charges, Tradable Permits,

Lesson 11: No Sacrifice Is Too Great for Someone Else to Make
Focus: Economic Systems
In this lesson, students are engaged in a production simulation that demonstrates different production decisions about the use of resources under different types of economic systems. Students analyze the results of the simulation to discover that the failure to make producers or consumers pay all of the costs of using the environment leads to pollution in all types of economic systems. That esta...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Incentive, Externality


online Understanding the Debt Ceiling Debate and the Budget Control Act of 2011
This lesson provides an introduction and an overview of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Students will be given information about the legislation and presented with different proposals for dealing with the long-term deficit problem of the United States.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Budget Deficit,Government Expenditures,Federal Budget,Government Spending,Public-Choice Analysis

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 Fiscal Ship Through the Lens of the Elections
Where does each party stand when it comes to fiscal management? In this lesson, students will analyze each major political party's platform to better understand their approaches to the federal budget and national debt.  Students will be challenged to apply this understanding by playing the [EEL-link id='5114' title='Fiscal Ship' ] game in the role of one of the major party platforms.  T...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Budget Deficit,Government Expenditures,Government Revenues,National Debt,Federal Budget

online Federal Budget Lesson Plan and Fiscal Ship Student Game
What are the tradeoffs that policymakers face when steering the federal budget? To answer this question, students will grapple with the complexity of federal budget choices as they play The Fiscal Ship, a game created by the [EEL-link id='5124' title='Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution' ] and the Serious Games Initiative at the [EEL-link id='5131' title='Wo...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Budget Deficit,Government Expenditures,Government Revenues,National Debt,Federal Budget

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 Party Platforms and Economic Issues
According to Gallup, Americans have considered the state of the economy "among the most important U.S. problems" since 2008. The issues frequently debated leading up to any presidential campaign include many economic issues such as improving the economy, how to reduce unemployment, the federal deficit, and taxes. Similar topics have highlighted many of the debates leading up to the 2016 election. ...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: National Debt,Taxes,Trade,Employment

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 What Happened to Railroads?
Between the Civil War and World War II, railroads were one of the nation's most important businesses and an integral part of people’s lives. In this lesson, students assume the role of detectives investigating why the rail companies experienced a crisis in the 1960s and what helped the freight transport portion of the business return to profitability later in the same century. Students analy...
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Competition,Cost/Benefit Analysis,Demand,Incentive,Maintaining Competition,Natural Monopoly,Non-price Determinants,Role of Government,Supply,Benefit,Costs,Determinants of Demand,Determinants of Supply,Profit,Regulation,Monopolies

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 Campaign Finance
Compelling Question: In addressing the compelling question "Does money matter in political campaigns?" students work through a series of supporting questions, formative performance tasks, and featured sources in order to construct an argument with evidence while acknowledge competing perspectives.
Grade(s): 9-12
Concepts: Government Failure

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