Thompson Rivers University

Grade 10 Students at St. Ann’s Academy get exposure to university education

December 14, 2012

Dr. Peter Tsigaris on December 10 2012 taught grade 10 students at St. Ann’s Academy in Kamloops, BC, economic concepts such as the working of a market and the problems associated with the management of common resources using innovative learning games.

PIT MARKET GAME: The first game they played was the pit market game. It is used to illustrate the workings of a competitive market. Students working in groups of two acted either as sellers or as buyers of a hypothetical product. Students received either a red or a black playing card with a number on it and were told not to reveal the number to anyone other than their partner. Mimicking a trading floor, one student from each pair would then try to strike a deal with someone holding a card of the other colour. Those with red cards posed as buyers and tried to make a deal with a black card of equal or lower value. The buyer’s card indicates maximum willingness to pay for a unit of the good. The buyer obtained happiness when the price negotiated was lower than the card number (s)he held. Buying low and selling high The lower the price buyers negotiated the better they felt. Sellers numbered black card indicated the minimum amount they would accept to sell the unit. Sellers made a profit by negotiating a higher price than their card number. The higher the price they negotiated the more profits they made. Each round of trading lasted about 5 minutes.

Highlights of the game include:

  • Out of chaos there is order in the market.
  • Consumers that value the product the most end up buying the product.
  • Producers that have the lowest cost end up selling the product.
  • Both consumers and producers benefit from trading.
  • Those that do not trade have not lost or gained anything.
  • Markets tend to do a good job to allocate scarce resources but…..not always

THE COMMON RESOURCE GAME: In the other game involving Smarties candy, students learned about the tragedy of the commons. A single plate served as a place to consume smarties. The smarties were put on a plate with a carrying capacity of 10 smarties times the number of participants. Each student was allowed to consume up to a maximum of 20 smarties in each round. The smarties left on the plate after each round reproduced, provided a viable population remained, which was set at least 8 smarties. If a viable population remained after each round, then each candy had one offspring (baby). As a result the total smarties on the plate doubled. After reproduction, another period begins. If less than 8 smarties remained after a harvest, the population crashed. Smarties No communication was allowed and as expected candies were over consumed and it took only one round! This game illustrates to the students the tragedy of the commons. The common ownership of the resource is overused because no one takes into account the effects of her or his actions on other users of the resources. Examples include the Atlantic ocean cod stock, the South Pacific whales, the quality of the earth’s atmosphere, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

This unique and fun form of learning provides an economic basis and understanding for these students to apply to the important decisions they will be making as they prepare for their lives in the community.

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