Author:  Lori Alden

Audience:  High school economics students

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):  67-70. 

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.  

Materials:  

  • The Wage is Right! game sheets (Click 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.

Click 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 self-confidence.

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.

Follow-up

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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