Content Partner
Grades 9-12
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Students learn the basic economic concept of opportunity cost and draw a production possibilities frontier to learn the constraints a society faces when deciding what to produce. After reviewing opportunity cost, students learn that the math concept of slope can be used to model the opportunity cost of a production possibilities frontier. They practice computing slope on simple, linear production possibilities frontiers before examining the more realistic concave production possibilities model. Students end the lesson by speculating why the opportunity cost of producing goods changes at various points along the production possibilities frontier.
60 minutes
Multiple Choice
Constructed Response
The concept of opportunity cost is a foundation of economic study, and while advanced mathematics is generally used to compute it from a production possibilities frontier, the computation of slope (“rise over run”) can be used to approximate the opportunity cost by using production possibilities curves. Students will be using their math skills to compute the slopes of various production possibilities frontiers in order to determine the opportunity cost of producing different combinations of two goods. Ultimately, students will move from computing slope on a linear production possibilities frontier to one that is concave to the origin where the slope changes. This lesson is best taught in a high school Introductory Algebra course. The teacher should note that this lesson does not cover all aspects of slope. For example, all of the slopes examined in this lesson, due to the nature of the production possibilities frontier, are negative. Further, the slopes are located exclusively in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane. However, the lesson is designed to teach students a practical application of slope.
Content Partner
Grades 9-12
Grades K-2
Grades 9-12
Grades 9-12