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Economics explained: High schoolers teach young minds the basics

Economics explained: High schoolers teach young minds the basics
two high school students talking to a table of elementary students

How would you explain economic concepts like inflation, supply and demand, and fiscal policy to a 10-year-old? Students from Ms. Coyle's and Ms. Barton's Advanced Placement (AP) Government & Macroeconomics classes at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School took on the challenge for a visit to Colonial Elementary School.

“My favorite thing was learning things that I didn’t know before, like about investing money and sometimes the price goes up and sometimes it goes down,” said Colonial Elementary fourth grader Cate Peters.

“I learned about trading goods and items,” added classmate Kimmie Beers.

The high schoolers visited the fourth graders in Mrs. Cooper's class and the fifth graders in Ms. Coia's class. They used candy and fake money to help the younger students visualize how the economy works. 

“The kids really enjoyed all of the lessons, because it was very fun and interactive,” said PWHS junior Matt Freedman. “The kids understood a ton of the concepts and were able to summarize what they learned when we left.”

three high schoolers talking to a table of elementary students

After the lesson on taxes, fifth grader McKenzie Stowe had a better idea of how the government makes and spends money.

“I learned if you have some money, the government takes some away. This might make you get upset, but it’s for a good cause so they can build schools, give money to the military (which a lot of my family was in), and they build bridges to help you get from one place to another if you have somewhere important to go,” said McKenzie.

While the PWHS students found it challenging to make the economic concepts kid-friendly, they found that their work was worth the effort. 

“My favorite thing about this lesson was the students’ excitement after they answered a question correctly or shared a fact they already knew,” said PWHS junior Caroline Roman. “Overall, I enjoyed working with the kids because it was very rewarding when we were able to pass down information to a younger generation on a topic we studied all year.” 

Plymouth Whitemarsh High School offers Honors Economics, AP Macroeconomics, and AP Microeconomics as social studies electives. Students can earn college credit while still in high school through the AP classes. 

Groups of high schoolers and elementary student talking in crowded room