The Mystery of is it Mine or Ours?


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It can be a real mystery where some things come from and who is responsible for their upkeep. If you build a bridge to cross the stream, you may have paid for all the materials. Yet once the bridge is there, everyone seems to take this short cut to school. After awhile you see that the bridge is beginning to have broken boards and in general is in need of repairs and new coat of paint. Hey, what's the deal here? Why don't the other students who use this short cut, pitch in and help keep the bridge in working order?


In this lesson, you will learn why some goods are considered to be 'private' goods and others are considered to be 'public' goods. You will consider the dilemma that surrounds public goods and services by participating in a discussion group - 'You are all wet!, ' Reader's Theater - 'Paradise' and opportunities to test your knowledge of public and private goods.


  1. Read 'You are all wet!' Answer the questions at the end of the story. Your teacher will determine how you will use this reading. You might present it as a topic for class discussion, write a position statement on the use of the beach, or work in small groups to decide on a solution to the problem it presents.
  2. Using the Definition Activity you can review the pop up definitions of public and private goods.
  3. As a quick concept review you may use the Interactive Activity to identify public goods and services, private goods and services or goods and services that may be public or private.
  4. Print out the reader's theater, Paradise. Your teacher will select five students in your classroom to read the parts as the narrators. After the class has heard the play, you will join one of three groups. One of these groups will serve as a jury to decide this mediation. Of the other two groups, one will portray the Colonists, and one the Aliens. Each side will develop 5-10 statements that would be their argument before a mediation panel.


It is important to understand the concept of goods and services. There are many differences between goods and services, and goods and services make an impact on the publics daily life.


Your class will create an extended list of goods and services -- some public, some private and some with characteristics of both categories -- and place each listed item on a file card. You will help in this activity by creating cards to generate a pool of items you can use -- (about 50 to 100 examples). In the activity that follows, you will use these as you would a 'spell down.' The class will be divided into teams (2-3 students per team), and each of you will be called upon to identify whether the example you are given is public, private or both. You will need to explain your answers. When you answer incorrectly you will sit down.The team with the 'last person standing'. That team will be declared the winner. Your teacher might decide to assign a point per correct answer and determine the winner based on total number of points accumulated per team.


As a class, you may discuss the ideas of public protection, pollution, regulation, and taxation.