Using Student Experiences to Create Real-World Applications of Economics  

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of daily life. Educators and students  continue to experience the impacts of this global crisis in how and where they work. As with many current events, the experiences students are having now with the pandemic can serve as an excellent springboard for lessons in economics – in particular on the principles of supply and demand 

A new lesson from Discovery Education and Futures FundamentalsRapid Response: What Happens When Supply or Demand Changes Quickly, provides a model for how educators can use students’ experiences with the pandemic to create real-world applications of economics across multiple industries. It is a multi-day lesson for high school students that was developed to be flexible for delivery in person or online.  

The lesson starts with a discussion of how the pandemic impacted the travel and meat industries, two areas the students are likely familiar with either through their own personal experiences or through news sources From here, students work in small groups to brainstorm A-to-Z-style lists of products and services that have been affected by the pandemic. A competitive aspect is added by directing students to share and score their lists, with requiring only unique responses to garner points.  

After a review of how changes in supply and demand generally impact prices, students consider the role of government when these changes lead to significant fluctuations in price. In particular, they discuss whether or not the government should intervene in cases of price gouging. The lesson shifts from pandemic-focused examples to other instances of rapid changes in supply and demand, ranging from historic examples like Prohibition to contemporary examples such as ride-sharing companies’ use of surge pricing. Groups propose hypotheses and conduct research to determine what actually happened.  

Access the new Rapid Response lesson today on EconEssentials. Educators and students who want to extend their learning on a particular topic covered within the lesson, including futures markets, can use additional resources from EconEssentials to continue their learning journey. In particular, to further explore how businesses can mitigate their risk from sudden changes in price using futures, students can watch the Risk on the Ranch video from Futures Fundamentals, which explores the concept through the lens of a rancher. The self-paced module, The Facts about Food, can also be used to investigate what causes price increases or decreases for certain foods, and includes aEducator Companion Guide to support the use of the module in the classroom. 

For even more economics lessons and resources, visit