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Teaching Inflation, Using a Day at the Ballpark

Our Teach-the-Teachers program encourages creative ways to explain economic concepts. One alumnus, Steve Estelle, crafted an especially creative teaching tool: He demonstrated inflation using things purchased during a day at the ballpark.

Steve, who teaches business and consumer finance at Monument Mountain Regional High school here in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, gave his students data on the “market basket” for two fans at a big league baseball game. The goods in the basket were: two tickets, two hot dogs, a large bag of peanuts, two sodas, and one order of nachos. (I guess you would have to share the peanuts and the nachos!)

Take a look at the data of hypothetical prices for each good for the period from 2009-2014.

Baseball attendance data table

The lesson led students through the calculation of the cost of the market basket, construction of the baseball game attendance price index, and calculation of inflation/deflation. The chart below presents the dynamics of the price index of the baseball game attendance. Are you convinced that there is inflation? The students were able to see that the baseball game attendance inflation averaged 3 percent per year during this period, and in 2014 it reached 18 percent as compared to 2009.

Baseball price index picture

This interesting application of our work at AIER was an inspiration to me. I was happy to see that our materials for Teach-the-Teachers are being used beyond the simple field test. Through the program teachers acquire deep knowledge of several economic concepts, and they continue using this knowledge to create new assignments, to inspire students to think outside the textbook, and to intrigue them with fun ideas.

This lesson provides the evidence of the long-term value of Teach-the-Teachers program, not just of the short-run improvement of knowledge and enthusiasm of the teacher.

We are offering three workshops during Summer 2016. Visit our web site to learn more and to register for the program: https://www.aier.org/teach-teachers.

Picture: Steve Estelle, teacher at Monument Mountain Regional High school in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Steve Estelle

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