JA Exploring Economics®

JA Exploring Economics® tackles a complex subject and makes it accessible and fun for high school students through hands-on activities.

JA Exploring Economics® teaches concepts such as supply and demand, inflation, and the production and consumption of goods. It also explores how consumers can increase their wealth through different saving and investing options.

By making economics engaging and relatable, JA Exploring Economics® helps students better understand the impact they have on the economy as consumers and taxpayers, and it teaches important personal financial lessons about spending, saving, and investing.

JA Exploring Economics® is for students in grades nine through 12. It is composed of seven 45-minute sessions. Materials are packaged in a self-contained kit that includes detailed session plans for the volunteer and materials for 32 students.

JA Exploring Economics® enhances students’ learning of the following concepts and skills:

  • Concepts – Banks as borrower and lender, Command economy, Consumer Price Index (CPI), Consumer purchasing power, Demand, Distribution, Economics, Economic isolationism, Economic systems, Federal Reserve System, Free-rider problem, Inflation, Inflation rate, International trade, Investing options, Market economy, Market-clearing price, Nonrivalry, Percentage change, Private property, Production, Public vs. private goods, Public vs. private sector, Regional trade, Risk versus reward, Saving options, Simple interest, Supply, Supply and demand, Tariff, Taxes, Trade restrictions, Utility, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), World trade
  • Skills – Analyzing information, Categorizing data, Charting, Decision making, Evaluating alternatives, Evaluating information, Graphing, Listening for understanding, Oral and written communication, Negotiating, Public speaking, Reading for understanding, Solving algebraic equations, Working in pairs and groups

Program Components

The key learning objectives listed beside each activity state the skills and knowledge students will gain.

Economic Systems: Who Makes the Big Decisions?

Students examine how the economic system that a society uses for production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services significantly affects the individuals in that society.

Session Objectives:

  • Analyze the impact of a society''s economic system on the decisions it makes about the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services
  • Evaluate how the following characteristics affect the efficiency of a market: money, private property, limited government, exchange of resources in available markets, and entrepreneurship

Supply and Demand: What''s It Worth to You?

Students illustrate the impact of supply demand on the economy by participating in an economic situation using real-life examples.

Session Objectives:

  • Review the concepts of supply and demand
  • Define market-clearing price
  • Demonstrate the interaction between supply and demand in a free-market economy
  • Respond to real-life examples of price and other market forces that influence supply and demand and the market-clearing price

Supply and Demand: The JA Market Game

Using an experiential game format, students demonstrate the interaction of supply and demand and how market forces affect the price of products.

Session Objectives:

  • Explain the interaction between supply and demand in a free-market economy and the market''s drive toward establishing a market-clearing price
  • Apply real-life examples of market forces that influence supply and demand

Saving and Investing: Risks and Rewards

Students explore concepts related to the consumers, savers, and investors, including how wealth increasing in different saving and investing options. They compare the characteristics, risks, and rewards of several options.

Session Objectives:

  • Recognize ways to earn and increase wealth through saving and investing
  • Analyze examples of wealth acquired through saving and investing
  • Evaluate different methods of saving and investing, including varied risks and rewards

Government''s Role in the Market

Students analyze the effect of government on the economy, including intervention through the production of public goods and services, taxes, and its role in protecting private property.

Session Objectives:

  • Categorize public versus private goods and explain why governments intervene in the economy by providing public goods
  • Express why individuals and businesses pay taxes
  • Analyze the impact of the government''s role in protecting private property

Money, Inflation, and the CPI

Students learn about inflation and its effect on prices, consumer purchasing power, the willingness of financial institutions to loan money, and how the consumer price index (CPI) monitors inflation.

Session Objectives:

  • Define inflation and demonstrate its connection to the availability and value of money in a market, as well as its effect on prices and consumer purchasing power
  • Explain and calculate how the consumer price index (CPI) measures consumer prices
  • Recognize that inflation can impair a market economy by affecting consumer confidence and funds available for investment

International Trade

Students compare trade policies and the global economy through a simulation based on the increased utility (satisfaction) of international trade.

Session Objectives:

  • Describe the significance of international trade
  • Analyze the impact of trade on national and international utility

All JA programs are designed to support the skills and competencies identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. These programs also augment school-based, work-based, and connecting activities for communities with school-to-work initiatives.

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