The Penny Problem


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 Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe entered a bill into congress to reduce the importance or use of the penny. He wants to barr purchases that would be made with more than 25 pennies. He would also round up or down to the nickel. In July of 2001, Good Morning America aired an interview with a man that claimed that the penny is not a very economical coin. He claimed that too many people don't use pennies. They just save them and don't get them back into circulation (to get people to use them). He claimed that the mint has to make so many because people don't use them after they get them as change. They are getting expensive to make. He suggested doing away with the use of the penny altogether and round purchases up when paying.

A group dedicated to keeping the penny called, Americans for Common Cents, supplies information that claims that it costs .7 cents for the mint to make a penny. The group claims the U.S. treasury profits 40 million dollars a year from the penny.


You will decide what you think the fate of the penny should be.


Step 1

In your group brainstorm ideas of why the penny is useful and why it is not so useful. On your own list the pros and cons of the penny in the appropriate columns. Click here for the worksheet.

Step 2

In your group, go to the following websites to find facts about the penny that make it a worthwhile or not worthwhile coin to have around. The information on the websites may take sometime reading because the websites may not just list pros and cons. Complete the chart worksheet.

Now add to your columns. The information may not easily fit as pros or cons, like the cost of making the penny may fit into the pro or con category. 

Now in your group consider the following questions.

  • What are two ways to get pennies back into circulation.
  • What are two ways to buy and sell things without the use of the penny as one of our coins.


With the class list the pros and cons of continuing to mint the penny on a large chart paper. On another piece of large chart paper make a whole class list of ways to get the penny circulating, and how we should deal with buying and selling without the penny.


On your own write a one-page letter to your current Congressman  either for or against the plan for getting rid of the penny. Make sure to check for grammar and spelling mistakes before handing in the letter.

Grading System


Pros or Cons

Other Requirements

Poor none discussed  
Fair 1 discussed  
Good 2 discussed  
Excellent more than 2 discussed  
Superior more than 2 discussed give ideas for what to do when the penny is discontinued or what could be done to get people to use the penny