Trade Schools

Project-Based Learning in Your Economics Classroom

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Introduce your high-school students to economics through project-based learning and don’t let them miss out on exciting careers in this STEM field!

Project-based learning allows students to focus on different ways to overcome challenges by taking time to think critically about solutions. Proponents of project-based learning, such as the Buck Institute for Education (BIE), cite benefits including higher engagement, personal responsibility, critical thinking, team building, and preparedness for real-world work situations.

Economics is often viewed as relating exclusively to budgeting, accounting, or money-management careers. This misconception limits the pool of students who could potentially excel in an economics major. Through project-based learning, educators can change this outlook on economics.

According to The American Economic Association, New York University’s Stern School of Business Dean, Peter Henry, defines the study of economics as “…the science of human behavior that allows you to answer a broad range of really exciting questions about why human beings do what they do, but to do so in a more precise way using mathematics.” Revealing how economics can improve human lives, rather than simply crunching numbers, could inspire students to change the world.

The following economics-focused project-based learning activities from the CK-12 Foundation can help your high-school students gain a greater understanding of careers in economics.

Project-based LearningRunning In Place

This introductory activity poses the scenario of a television reality show producer who wants to change careers and manufacture active footwear. Completely green to economics, he enlists the help of his economics-major daughter and her friends to explain preliminary concepts of the relationship between manufacturers and consumers. Through this project-based learning task, students will become familiar with the role of resources and the relationship between consumers and manufacturers.

The Invisible Hand

Building upon concepts learned in Running in Place, this project-based learning activity uses government and public policy to set the stage to examine free markets and supply incentives. In this activity, the Department of Energy must implement Congress-enacted legislation regulating gas prices and perform damage control after potentially upsetting details surface publicly in the media. Unfamiliar with economics, the department’s secretary enlists a policy group to write an Op-Ed response quelling public anger.

Monopoly’s Might

Using a story line to which students can relate, this activity sets a scene by describing a group of high school friends who develop a new type of avocado. After securing investors and developing a pesticide, the company is sold to a corporation. Outlining the relationships between the role of supply and demand in competitive markets, this project-based learning activity requires students to outline the free-market economy options available to these young developers following the sale of their company.

The Greater Good

Through envisioning an international trade scenario between island nations, this project-based learning activity teaches comparative advantage and free trade. A cold relationship between two island nations facilitates each country’s ability to trade with neighbors in the region. A conflict between the other nations arises, leaving the first two countries to enter into a trade agreement together, despite their strained history and protesting citizens. Students are required to develop a public service campaign supporting the trade agreement.

The President’s Dilemma

Using the concepts learned in the previous four project-based learning activities, this exercise ties together each lesson, culminating in students’ application of macroeconomic approaches and analysis. In this scenario, the president organizes a Special Task Force of the Council of Economic Advisors to reach a solution for the country’s extreme economic crisis, but they must not increase the national debt.

Once finished with these project-based learning assignments, students should read our “6 Resources to Bookmark Now” to prepare for the AP Economics homework they’ll encounter during senior year.

Want to dig a little deeper? Download our free guide to project-based learning.

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Dorothy Crouch is a California-based writer who has covered many topics such as financial technology, travel and the pet-goods industry. Born and raised in New York City, she pursued her undergraduate degree at Hunter College and an M.S., Publishing degree through Pace University. Combining her love of learning and curiosity of the world, Dorothy studied abroad at Dublin, Ireland’s Trinity College, igniting a passion for travel. Dorothy’s thirst for knowledge and love of learning has led her to travel the world and pursue higher learning, including scuba certification. A lifelong animal lover, Dorothy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their fish and two lovable, spoiled dogs.

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