Author: Lori Alden
Audience: High school
Time required: About
10 minutes per game
NCEE Standards: 4, 7,
8, 13, 15
For more information: Alden, Lori. 2004. The
Wage is Right! The Social Studies 95(2):
Summary: This series of short classroom games
encourages students to apply
the supply and demand model to labor markets. The games are
patterned after The Price is Right, a long-running game
show on CBS that asks contestants to guess the prices of various
goods. In this version, students guess the median earnings
of different occupations and predict which will grow the fastest.
It’s a fun way to acquaint students with different occupations
and help them understand how earnings are related to training,
talent, and other factors.
- The Wage is Right! game
here to download them in pdf format)
- Raffle tickets or prizes.
I use raffle tickets as rewards for this and other
games that my students play throughout the semester. On
the last day of class, I raffle off different prizes.
here to review the supply and demand of labor markets.
Round 1: Select five students
and have them come to the front of the classroom. Announce
that you will ask the contestants to guess the median earnings of
an occupation and that whoever makes the best guess—without
going over—will go on to the next round. Read aloud the
occupation listed under Round 1 of the game sheet, and tell the
students whether they’re to guess hourly or annual median
earnings. Poll each contestant, and record their guesses on
the board. If a student offers the same guess as another
student, have that student change it so that each guess is unique.
On the television program, members
of the studio audience usually call out advice to the contestants.
I allow my students to do so as well, since it gets the entire
class involved and it permits nervous or confused students to do
well in front of their peers. Also note that the rules in
this round are rigged to favor the last contestant who guesses.
I view this as an advantage since it gives weaker students a
chance to “beat out” stronger students and build
When all the contestants have made
their guesses, write the correct answer on the board and ask the
winning student to stay in front of the classroom. Have the
other students return to their seats.
Round 2: Write the names of
the three occupations listed under Round 2 on the board.
Tell the contestant that he or she can win a raffle ticket or
prize by correctly ranking the occupations by earnings. Read
the descriptions of each occupation from the game sheet, and ask
the student to write a “1” over the occupation with the
highest earnings, a “2” over the one with the second highest
earnings, and a “3” over the one with the lowest earnings.
Before revealing the answer,
discuss with your class why these occupations might have different
earnings. In Game 1, for example, your students might
observe that one must attend college for at least four years to
become a civil engineer, and even longer to become a pharmacist.
Education makes these workers very productive, so the demand for
them is high. The supply, however, is relatively low, since
the educational requirements make it difficult to enter either of
these professions. With high demand and low supply, civil
engineers and pharmacists are assured of high earnings.
After the discussion, allow the
contestant (if he or she wishes) a chance to change the rankings,
and then write the actual earnings next to each of the job titles.
If the rankings are correct, give the contestant a raffle ticket
or prize. Whether or not the contestant is correct,
have him or her stay in front of the class for Round 3.
Round 3: Announce that the
contestant has another chance to win a raffle ticket or prize by
guessing which of the three occupations is predicted to grow the
fastest through 2010. After the contestant has guessed, give
the correct answer and (if applicable) give the contestant a
raffle ticket or prize. Have the student sit down, then read
the future trends for each of the three jobs and use the supply
and demand model to help students understand the correct answer.
A good follow-up activity for these games is to have your students
list several careers that they’re interested in, and then guess
the median earnings of each career and speculate about whether it
will experience slow or fast growth for the balance of the decade.
After recording their guesses, your students can check them
against estimates provided in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
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