Special Projects Overview

Special Projects are learning-based activities taking place over an extended period of time. An extension of classroom economic literacy, they provide practical, hands-on experiences to illustrate the value of the classroom learning.

While theoretical economics may sound abstract, it derives its vitality from being a very practical body of knowledge. By putting their knowledge into practice, students learn to become intentional in their decision-making and develop important life skills throughout their academic years and beyond. Almost always, students become excited and highly engaged in the process. As students participate in meaningful, successful projects, they will internalize the theoretical economic tools and concepts they have learned in the classroom. It will help students link the economic concepts of choice, cost (long- and short-term), consequence, incentives, and marginal thinking with their own ability to make better decisions.

We recommend that teachers employ the same general process for all special projects, regardless of grade level or length of time. As a guide, we offer the following suggestions for getting started:

  • Begin by starting small classroom projects, of a length and breadth easily managed by a single teacher. Employ an economic vocabulary as you build the project, emphasizing the intentionality of the process and the decisions made. Any project you choose will provide an opportunity to demonstrate most, if not all, of the Keystone Economic Principles.
  • To add the next stage of complexity, develop projects collaboratively with several classrooms. This will work well with multiple classrooms at the same grade level, or with several different grade levels.
  • More substantive learning opportunities can be undertaken by encouraging school-wide programs.
    • Identify a problem that affects the entire student body and challenge them to find viable solutions.
    • Create a student-run business(es) whose profits can be used to benefit the students (a special field trip), the school (playground or athletic equipment), or community outreach (donations to worthy organizations in your community or beyond).
    • Incorporate economics into existing school-wide activities such as cultural fairs or science fairs.
  • If it is not possible to use classroom time for special projects, establish an economics  after-school club to provide these opportunities for students.