From economics to chocolate almonds to the latest on the ‘Hunger Games’ movie

25/08/2011 § 2 Comments

The best way to convince a group of high schoolers to stay focused in class and never, ever lose their attention is to bribe them. In this case, a good number of the class was entranced by that box of chocolate-covered almonds that called to them. It’s not every day that a teacher offers you something to eat that’s so… unhealthy but so good. This was the class’ first lesson in economics.

We needed to get that box of chocolates. Or, actually, one person had to get that box of chocolates. There’s the problem. Ms. Welbes only bought one box of chocolates for a class of 13. Our objective was follow a process to allocate, or distribute, the box of chocolates to one person. There are a lot of economics in a decision like this because of a few factors, one of them being that the chocolates are scarce, meaning that as a resource, it is limited but it is desirable. Another factor is that the process we used to make a decision (PACED) required that we make an economic choice, which, in economics, is making a decision based on the options and alternatives you have available.

As for how we decided how we would choose a winner, we used PACED, a process that allows us to sort through options in an organized way. PACED stands for a the different steps. P defines the ‘problem’ and identifying it, which we did. There’s one box of chocolates that we weren’t able to split between the entire class and therefore had to allocate to only one person. A stands for ‘alternatives’ and, in my honest opinion, this was the best part of the PACED process. Basically the class brainstormed ways to choose a winner. We thought of games and methods like Jenga, the longest back-bend, a singing competition, a dodgeball game (Soul Survivor), the fastest swim, tallest/shortest person, the longest commute, Janken, and etc. The list really does go on.

This stage had to be narrowed down from about 35 options to 12 to 5 and those five ended up being Janken, hide-and-seek, video-games, Bingo and Jenga. It was important that when we narrowed down the alternatives and voted for certain options, we had to think which tests would be beneficial to ourselves. For example, Christina would probably have chosen fastest swimmer or longest commute because she would instantly win both of those and get the chocolates. Likewise, the class had to think similarly while voting for their favorite alternatives.

Afterwards, we came up with ‘criteria’ (which C stands for) that we would assess our five alternatives with. These four criteria were that the alternative had to be fun, it had to be fair, it had to be feasible (doable in under an hour), and only one person would end up winning. We then weighed each criteria according to how important they were to us. I personally gave fun three stars, feasible two stars, fair two stars and one person winning one star.

E stands for ‘evaluate’ and in this stage, we needed to assess each method by giving negatives or positives according to if they lived up to the criteria or not. For example, Jenga wasn’t an alternative that would end up with one person winning so that received one negative. However, it’s a really fun game, so Jenga also receives three pluses. This stage of the PACED process applies one of the more important economic terms we learned. While evaluating, we were also using economic reasoning to analyze the costs and benefits of an alternative to make the rational choice. The negatives were the costs and the positives were the benefits. 

Whichever alternative had the most positives obviously won and according to the class, hide-and-seek had the most pluses per person. This was part of D stage; making a ‘decision’. Everyone assessed the alternatives according to their preference and afterwards, hide-and-seek was the overall winner with the most pluses. Just today (Wednesday, August 24), the class played a (really, really) quick game of hide-and-seek and Grace was the first one to find a bean bag. She won. Immediately.

And that is the story of how Period 2 allocated a scarce resource, the box of chocolates, to one person by using economic reasoning to make a rational choice through the PACED process.

Real World Connection:

In real life, similar decisions are made all the time, in things we wouldn’t expect would be related to economics. A real world example of making decisions with economic reasoning can be seen in the film-making business. I’m very into films and TV shows and anything that requires saying “Lights, camera, action!” because I’m just like that. It was wonderful news when I heard that The Hunger Games trilogy was in talks to become a series of movies (four movies are part of the plan, just FYI) and an article on an economic decision I found in the production of the first Hunger Games movie is found here.

The major problem the producers faced was finding the perfect actress to play Katniss Everdeen, a very well-sought role in Hollywood — which might make it a scarce resource because good roles in Hollywood are easy to find. Great roles are running short.

These producers found their alternatives, many different actresses like Chloe Moretz, Dakota Fanning, Emma Roberts and so many more. These alternatives were assessed with criteria that are specified here, where the casting director talks about what she’s looking for in the actor for Katniss. Those characteristics are the criteria which the producers will use to assess each actor. The evaluation is basically making the final decision. The alternatives were assessed and the final choice were made: the decision was Jennifer Lawrence.

This is all very exciting news for me (it’s the Hunger Games, of course it’s exciting) but it’s even better to know that some of the things I’m interested links very strongly to something as intricate as economics and economic decisions.

Note: Commented on Kohei’s blog.

§ 2 Responses to From economics to chocolate almonds to the latest on the ‘Hunger Games’ movie

  • […] Competitive Imbalance and the National Basketball Association can be found here. I commented on Kari’s blog. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  • YuRiKa M. says:

    Hey Kari!
    I just read your blog and… I like it 😀

    Anyways, I like how you made all the economic concepts bold and wrote the meanings of each word after it. It helped me understand what was being said and it was easier to read through your blog. Also, by splitting each step into paragraphs it helped me indicate each of the steps you went through.

    One advice I would recommend is to somehow make each different section more clear. Like for the last section where you talk about a real world example of PACED, you can put a little title or a line or something to indicate that you will talk about something different. It may help the blog post become a little more organized and help readers to find it easier to differentiate each topic question.

    But overall this blog post is great! (:

    By the way, sorry for the that little post above… I didn’t mean to post whatever that is.

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