Terri Sue O’HaraE.C. Glass High School, Lynchburg
As an Economics and Personal Finance teacher, Ms. O’Hara has worked hard to ensure her students are involved in many financially themed projects and programs.  Through her efforts, E. C. Glass has its own branch of a student-run credit union, providing financial lessons and experiences for all Glass students. E. C. Glass is recognized as a W!SE Blue Star School and she is a W!SE Gold Star Teacher as the result of high student scores on the independent financial literacy certification test.  Ninety-seven percent of her students scored above the national average on the National Financial Capability Challenge and a team of her students earned an invitation to the Governor’s Challenge in Economics and Personal Finance. She has many examples of investing in her own human capital through professional development and working with colleagues to develop lessons and resources for Glass students.

Russell H. Kohrs, Massanutten Regional Governor’s School, Concentrating on Copper: An Exploration of Mineral Commodities, Grade level: high school
This project combined earth science principles and economic concepts to show students the importance of finite resources.  The goal was to teach earth or environmental science students about the realities of mineral commodities, how they are extracted, and how supply and demand for them work to create that market, produce goods, and affect the environment. Typically a consumer is not exposed to mineral commodity prices except when those minerals are in a product where we notice price fluctuation. Petroleum is a common example.  This lesson focuses on the life cycle of copper, which most of us think little about in our day to day lives yet is just as prevalent and important as other commodities like petroleum. Click here for an outline of the lessons.

Lilo Stephens, Kenmore Middle School, Arlington County, Time Travel with Economics and Augmented Reality, Grade level: middle school Social Studies
This unit takes a traditional sequencing format—the timeline—and combines it with a technological innovation—augmented reality.  The result is a student-created interactive timeline focused on history through an economics lens.  The interactive timeline becomes both a showcase for student work and a learning portal for the entire school community.  By combining the traditional with the innovative, students engage in a rich, rigorous learning experience. Click here for an outline of the lessons.

Christine Pedersen, Varina High School, Henrico County, “Barbie’s Keepin’ It Real”:  How Insurance Affects Your Life, Grade level: high school
After covering different types of insurance, this game using Barbie dolls is used as a culminating activity to promote the relevance of insurance and provide some fun.  Each team of five students or less seeks to have their Barbie live in the “real” world for one year and end with a positive net worth and a positive tally of “joy points.” Students choose to buy insurance for Barbie, or not, and as they roll the dice and moved their Barbie’s around the board, good and bad things happen which add to or take from their net worth and “joy.” Scores are posted to determine an overall classroom winner and all students provide a reflection on what they had learned about insurance by playing the game. Click here for the lesson and game instructions.

Steven K. Wilder, Amherst County High School, My Millionaire Plan, Grade level: high school
Extending over 40 days, students develop and carry out an investment plan.  Each day equals one year in the student’s life.  The amount of savings is adjusted each “year” based on expected increases in earnings due to education, career, and family changes.  Savings are invested in the stock market with each year’s return based upon a randomly drawn annual yield using historical data.  After the initial class period, students spend five to ten minutes each day on their wealth building plan.  Through this exercise they can see the effect of saving, compound interest, wealth building, and volatility of returns, goal setting, planning, and budgeting.  Students also complete a simultaneous “life happens” plan.  With events such as inheritances, unemployment, divorce, marriage, children, and unexpected expenses, students can see what happens financially when life’s events interrupt a savings plan.  Click here for a copy of the lesson and here for the accompanying excel spreadsheet.


Rachel B. Johnson, Totaro Elementary, Brunswick County
Copies of Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst were purchased with VCEE grant money and used to launch an economics unit for 3rd graders to teach or reinforce concepts such as decision-making, scarcity, opportunity cost, saving and spending. During the read aloud, students kept track of how much money Alexander spent.  VCEE posters were used to review economic concepts with students then designing their own posters and explaining the concept they drew.  Students took a field trip to the school cafeteria to look for capital resources and quickly learned who was the producer and who was the consumer in the cafeteria setting.  Students then stopped at the snack machine and, with a certain amount of coins they were given, had to make a decision about what to purchase.  Each identified their opportunity cost and some students pooled their money with another student to buy a bigger snack.  Students were allowed to enjoy their tasty treats while taking an assessment on what they had learned.

Rhonda Lowe Taylor, Achilles Elementary School, Gloucester County
Copies of The Lemonade War were purchased and shared in a read aloud with 5th grade students.  The story covers economics concepts such as supply and demand, marketing, profit and loss, in a fun and engaging way.  Each home room was then given $25 to purchase supplies for a lemonade business.  As a group they decided on the recipe, supplies, company name, advertising, prices and ways to make their products more unique.  As the contest between classes progressed, they raised and lowered prices, changed recipes and products to meet consumer demand, and adjusted advertising and location to better serve consumers.