Economics fairs offer students a unique opportunity to see how the economy works. Students participate by opening individual businesses and either manufacturing items to sell or offering services for sale. Students determine what resources they need for their business to succeed and where they will purchase those resources. A second group of students are given play money and shop at the different businesses, choosing which items they'd like to spend their money on.
Raw material suppliers provide raw materials to manufacturers for their finished products. The raw materials vary from food ingredients to building supplies. Assign students to form various companies to sell raw materials to the manufacturers. The students must determine where they will obtain their raw materials and how much they will charge. Give the students wage rates to use and the labor hours needed for each task. Give them prices to use for any items they need to purchase. Allow them to calculate a cost for their materials and selling price.
Manufacturing businesses purchase raw materials and convert them to finished goods for the ultimate consumer. Assign students to manufacturing companies. These students will need to source their raw materials from suppliers and negotiate prices. They need to determine how many labor hours are needed to convert the materials to finished goods, then determine the selling price. Give the students wage rates and the number of hours necessary for producing their product. The students will need to calculate a cost for their product and the selling price to the consumer.
Service companies provide a service for the consumer, such as tax preparation or housecleaning. Assign students to service companies giving them wage rate information and the hours necessary to complete various tasks. The students will need to calculate their cost for different jobs and the price they will charge the consumer.
Consumers purchase finished products and services. Assign a group of students to act as consumers. Give these students a limited amount of money to spend at the various companies. Since an economy consists of consumers with different financial means, give the students different amounts of money to start with.
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