Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Seat Sale Activity
One of the struggles I have had in the past to how to get students excited about economics from the start of the class. I have found a solution to that problem in the form of a seat sale activity. I tell students when I assign them to bring in the change that their parents, through taxes, have paid for them to be there, but not paid for where they are sitting.
I have not found a way to do this activity on the first day of class instead, I wait until the class rosters have been set and I can have students bring money, I tell them pocket change, into class. I do not make loans, as I tell them I am like the mob, I charge high rates of interest and I never forget. I tell those who forgot to get loans from friends. And so the lesson of economics starts. I run a dutch auction in which I start with a high price and work my way down. The student that makes a sound first, bids that price on that seat. I tell them what I think as to the best seats and the worst. I tell them if they do not want a ton of eye contact, the first row is best, because it is weird to just talk to the first row. There are desks next to my desk, which I tell them those are the worse, because they are the furthest from the door and if they knock over any of my kid's pictures, we are going to have a problem, and so on. Once we get through about half of the seats, I run a lottery, in which I sell a few seats for $.10. I have students write their name and a number between 1-100 and use random.org to pick said number. It is great, when I know students want to sit next to each other, I drive up the cost of the seat. I also leave seats open, and sometimes create a shortage by pulling seats out, or even find broken seats and sell them at lower prices. Either way, it is a good way to learn names, teach some economics, and raise money for other activities I do in class.
We go back to this activity throughout the semester. Supply and demand, institutions (in this case me) mattering, market structures, really it comes up a ton throughout. Parents like it, as it creates interest in the class and I like it as it provides me some small funds for other things I do in class.