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Sample Activity

This is an old activity I used to do in economics. I've included lots of the elements you'd normally expect to see on a session planning sheet: content, difficulties, and learning skills. Don't worry if your pages are shorter; just tell us what we need to know to run your activity well.

I included a bonus "extend" section, where I tie this activity to real life or further topics in the class. It doesn't always get stated on the session plan, but I know many of you have these thoughts as you're planning. Include them!

—Westley Trevino

The Elasticity Continuum

Content and Objective

This activity will help the students see how the price-elasticity of demand ε (lowercase epsilon) relates to different demand curve types and what that means in "real life."

Challenges and Difficulties

Students always have problems seeing that every demand curve contains regions of "elastic" and "inelastic" but the curve as a whole is relatively elastic or relatively inelastic — that fact can be stressed in this activity by labeling those regions on each graph, but it is really best addressed in another visual activity.

Method

A handout will be used for this activity, although it hasn't been filled in at all. In small groups, students must remember which types of demand curves we used in class, but also match them up to their verbal meanings (relatively elastic or inelastic) and values of ε (from zero to infinity).

Don't bother trying to graph the "unit elastic" case - it is a special rectangular hyperbola. If they are truly curious, you can show them how its elasticity does not change along the graph.

Learning Skills

I like this activity because it's a good bit off the path when it comes to visual organizers. They see that they can really use their creativity to make organizers instead of sticking to the "straight edge" methods like matrices or outlines. Of course, unless the students remember perfectly (probably not) it will be a good time to review the notes and textbook too.

Extend

The discussion of elasticity is really easy to extend. Discuss how it relates to total revenue and how it can tell you when you'd actually make more money by charging more for your product.

Can they think of any real goods that may have relatively inelastic demand curves?

Are different types of people differently elastic for the same good? What implications might arise from this knowledge? (For example, price discrimination – a more advanced economic topic but one you can see we are nearly breach here.)

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Westley Trevino,
Feb 25, 2009, 1:03 PM
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Westley Trevino,
Feb 25, 2009, 10:02 AM
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