The Higher you Climb, The More You Pay
This lesson printed from:
Posted May 23, 2007
Author: Susan Toohey
Posted: May 23, 2007
Updated: January 21, 2013
Students will take a "Virtual Tour" of the Eiffel Tower in Paris France and locate the price of a bottle of water at each viewing platform. They will need to problem solve how to pay for admission, buy the water and be able to pay for the telescope at the top of the tower- all for $12.55US.
- Understand that supply and demand for a product drives price.
- Analyze pricing practices of private businesses.
- Convert U.S. dollars into euros and budget for purchases in that currency.
- Utilize information to make decisions.
- Understand there is no "costless" decision.
This lesson will address the basic concepts of decision making, costs, consumers, and markets. The students will complete an activity that requires them to make decisions as consumers in a specific market. The decisions they make will affect their ability to purchase more goods at a later time; this outcome will address the concept of opportunity cost.
- Have the students define the following economic terms: consumers, costs, decision making, exchange rates, incentives, markets, opportunity costs. Note: Students can get the definitions for these term in NCEE's glossary.
- After students define the terms listed above, ask them to play the role of a consumer who must make decisions in a market as they work through the interactive activity. Making these decisions will help them to understand opportunity costs, markets, costs and decision making.
Make the following writing assignment in order to activate your students' prior knowledge of a time when they experienced a physical need (have the prompt on the board when the students enter the classroom):
Think of a time when you have been very thirsty. What were you doing? Where were you? Write a short paragraph describing your thoughts, feelings and needs. What would you have given for a drink of water?
Give the students a short time to complete the assignment -- about two minutes. When they have completed the assignment, ask them to swap papers with a partner and have a brief talk, partner to partner, about the experiences in question. Then conduct a whole-class discussion of the assignments to highlight what seemed to be especially important about the students' experience of a physical need.
- Ask the students to keep track of the decisions they make throughout the interactive activity and how these decisions affect your ability to purchase other items.
- Discuss with the class the common thoughts and feelings about their decisions they made during the activity.
- Cover the basic economic terms with the following activity. Have three columns on the board. In column 1 list the economic terms to be addressed. In column 2 list the definitions for each term, but list the definitions in random order. In column 3 provide an example of each term. Ask student volunteers to match the terms with the definitions, using the example; then have a brief discussion about other real-life examples they can relate to in their experiences.
Read the following scenario to the students:
You are on a school trip to Paris, and a teacher has given you $12.55 to spend. With this $12.55 you must purchase a bottle of water at the Eiffel Tower, pay for your admission to the Eiffel Tower, and spend 2.50 euros viewing the city from the top through a telescope.
- The first step is to exchange the $12.55 to euros. Students may need a reminder about why money is not universal and the purpose of the euro. Go to the exchange rate site to determine today’s rate. This site will do the math.
Next, take a quick virtual tour of the Eiffel Tower
. Have the students answer the following questions and record answers on the organizer:
- How many steps will you need to climb to get to the “second floor”?
- What is the price of admission if you climb the steps?
- How much money do you have now?
- After the students have addressed the three questions, have them work as partners to start the climb. The students will use the graphic organizer and create a line graph to record observations and purchases.
Have the students answer the following questions:
What choices did you make at the three levels (ground, floor 1, floor 2)?
Why did you make those choices?
Were you able to view the city through the telescope?
Were you able to buy water?
- Have the students share their responses to the above questions as a whole group.
- Ask the students to speculate about why a business would charge different prices for the same product in the same venue, but at different places within that venue -- for example, at different levels of the Eiffel Tower. Can the students identify examples of similar pricing in their experiences? (Think of movies, carnivals, fairs, games), etc. where prices may vary in this way.
- Have the students look at their work and evaluate their decisions and predictions. What did they learned?
[Note to teachers: Explain to the students that many factors play into the pricing of products and the price that a consumer is willing to pay; however, tourist locations are a prime example of how the demand for a product, and the isolation of competition causes the price to be more elastic than in a city center where there is more competition and more vendors.]
- The graphic organizer will provide a basic reflection of the students' understanding of choices and pricing.
- Have the students create a poster for tourists about the “real costs of climbing the Eiffel Tower.”
- Have the students write a letter to the teacher thanking her for the $12.55. The letter should also explain how the dollar amount was converted to euros and what it bought in Paris. The letter should include the price increase of the water.
- Create a line graph illustrating the three levels of the tower and the price of water. This will clearly illustrate, "The higher you climb, the more you pay."
In this lesson the students had an opportunity to explore a tourist attraction in another country and make choices about when they would make some required purchases. They used critical thinking skills, planning, choices, and predictions, and they analyzed their decisions.
- Students should have completed the graphic organizer of choices they made and whether their prediction was correct.
- Have the students discuss in partners, then share out as a large group. Discuss their feelings about the price increases and why the tower would change the price for the exact same item. Is it fair? Why or why not? What is your goal as a consumer? How will you make decisions? What will be the opportunity cost at each level?
Ask the students to think of how they could use the Eiffel Tower pricing structure to raise money for their school. An example could be having the students sell seasonal products during the in-season, and also during the off-season. How would the prices change from season to season? (For example: Selling Christmas boxes at Christmas time vs. selling the boxes in March, or selling school calendars in August vs. selling the calendars in April.) Demand for the products changes with each season. Do their prices change as well?