Using Experiments with Economic Principles: Microeconomics, 2nd Edition for High School Courses
We have had a lot of interest from secondary school educators, and
believe that the book should work well in this setting with some
modifications. The experiments are very accessible (and fun!) for
students of all levels, and so they should work just fine without
any modifications (perhaps, depending on the skill of your class,
you may want to limit the scope of the experiments by removing
a few of the optional sessions). The lab report, discussion, and
homework sections should also be directly accessible to good students
(say, AP students), and even less well prepared students should be
able to grasp this material sufficiently to have a high quality
learning experience. In the case of less well prepared students,
the instructor may want to deliver some carefully prepared lectures
with a judicious choice of content.
Below are some suggested chapters for a high school course. (See the
annotated table of contents for additional
descriptions of the experiments.)
Part I: Competitive Markets
- Experiment 1: Supply and Demand
- This experiment introduces the basics of markets to your students,
and teaches them the basics of supply and demand (some simple graphing and
graph reading skills are required). You need to do this experiment
first, as many of the later experiments use a similar market set-up
and require knowledge of the underlying material presented here.
- Experiment 2: Shifting Supply and Demand
- This material elaborates on the ideas presented in the first
experiment, and thus you may also want to include this experiment.
Once you have the first two experiments completed, you should freely choose from
among any of the following:
Part II: Market Intervention and Public Policy
- Experiment 3: Sales Taxes
- All about sales taxes in markets...perhaps not of great interest
to high school students.
- Experiment 4: Prohibition
- Students seem to really enjoy this experiment, perhaps because of the
topic (a market for drugs with prohibited sales). It is a nice application
of some basic economic principles, with some interesting policy insights.
- Experiment 5: Minimum Wages
- In addition to learning about the
effects of market controls like price ceilings and floors, students learn
to define and measure voluntary and involuntary unemployment.
Some high school students may find discussions of minimum wage jobs of interest.
Part III: Imperfect Markets
- Experiment 6: Externalities
- This experiment is more extensive than some, but its topic
is of inherent interest to most high school students (environmental
policy and pollution).
- Experiment 7: Monopolies and Cartels
- Students learn about monopoly pricing, price discrimination,
and how cartels can break down, and thus this may be a fine experiment
for a high school class.
Part IV: Firms and Technology
- Experiment 8: Entry and Exit
- This experiment has a two-stage game in which there is
an "entry stage" and "market stage," and allows an exploration of
the dynamics of industry, along with some basics about firm
- Experiment 9: Network Externalities
- While the formal theory surrounding some of this experiment may be difficult for
high school students, the basic experiment is very accessible. Most students should be
able to grasp the theory at an intuitive level. Thus, you might want to run
the experiment and just discuss the underlying principles without requiring the students to
do the homework.
- Experiment 10: Measuring Productivity
- This experiment is a good one for high school students as it
involves production of paper airplanes,
while simultaneously teaching some basic issues of production.
- Experiment 11: Comparative Advantage
- This experiment explores issues surrounding international trade.
It should be very accessible to high school students interested in this area.
Part IV: Information, Auctions, and Bargaining
- Experiment 12: Adverse Selection
- This experiment concerns the impact of imperfect information on
the functioning of economic markets. The topic is fun---a used car
market---but some of the material may be too challenging for the
typical high school student.
- Experiment 13: Auctions
- Auctions are a lot of fun for students, and thus this should work
well in a high school class.
- Experiment 14: Bargaining
- This experiment looks at two-person bargaining and should be
accessible to high school students. Some of the theory behind this
may be intuitively difficult for high school students.
Appendix: Further Economic Principles
More advance students may want to read parts of the appendix.
Copyright (c) 1999, Theodore Bergstrom and John H. Miller, All Rights Reserved