Mini Economy Madness


Senior economics students showing off their profits.

It’s the second half of the school year at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) and seniors are in the final stretch. Senioritis is in full swing, but there’s one last step before graduation that students have to “work” for. That last step is conquering the “Mini Economy” game that seniors play in their economic classes.

This game teaches students the principles of economics while also teaching money management and smarter economic choices. Economic teachers, Mr. Sckalor and Mr. Gurba, use this style of teaching to keep students interested in the subject rather than the orthodox way of just having students copy notes and take tests. Students seem to enjoy the game, but having inexperienced 17- year-olds put in charge of thousands of fake dollars can lead to  some stressful situations.

The objective is to have the most money at the end of the game all while encountering different scenarios that one will face after high school and into adulthood.

Everyone is employed in this economy and that job is to be a student. Students get paid $500 every week for just showing up. Sounds like the life right? Wrong. That money can easily turn to $0 with a few mistakes. First of all, students have to pay an absent fee of $50 to insure students when they are absent. Losing $50 a week can quickly add up. On top of this $50 students pay to the “government,” they also get fined for breaking school rules. This is a smart way to get seniors who may have forgotten the rules to stay on task, but by breaking these rules you’re looking at $75-$100 coming out of your check for every lateness, cut and every time you have your phone out in class. Who would have thought you could get 200 seniors diagnosed with senioritis to follow school rules?

“The tickets restrict and limit my habits in school such as cursing and cutting class,” said Eaton Kim, senior.

Students can sit in their assigned seats, but those cost money in this mini-economy as well.

“I loved to sit in my old seat but, now that we have to pay rent that seat is worth $125 and I don’t really want to pay that,” Jason Cataldo, senior said.

Students are able to be hired for a second or third job including garbage man, administrative assistant and rent collector, but a job won’t do anything if you are constantly getting tickets everyday.

“I used to be late everyday to this class without Mr. Sckalor really caring much about it. Now I have to be on time everyday or else I’m losing $75,” Alex Zebrowski, senior said.

In this game there are opportunities to win some money back but, this isn’t your normal board game, you have to put some thought into it and use some economic principles to have the best financial interest for you.

The game also references investing into stocks and theories like the prisoner’s dilemma. For example, one game the students played involved each student receiving two normal playing cards. Each student were paired with another student who had the same suite. Each student got one black card and one red card and you were only allowed to play one at a time.

The whole point of the game was to show students that sometimes it’s better to sacrifice a large gain and take a small loss rather than a big gain and a chance to take a huge loss. Two black cards meant each person would lose $150. One black and one red card meant the red card wins $500 and the black card loses $300. Two red cards meant both student would win $50. Another factor to this mini economy game is having to rent your desk. You must pay rent for seats ranging from $50-$125. So you want to make sure you get the cheapest seats possible so not too much money is coming out of your pocket.

“I’ve been teaching this way for a while now. At first students are confused on their money decisions and that’s good because they’ve never been in this type of position before. It’s my job to expose them to situations they will face in the future so they are able to make smart decisions when they are eventually in these situations,” Mr. Sckalor said.

Students are a few months into the game and new terms keep coming up for students to make the smartest decisions with their money. As time goes on students will make smarter choices with their money and will hopefully transfer their knowledge from the game to real life situations.

  – by Maxwell Williams ’17