June 27 – July 01, 2016 The Economic Science Institute hosted a one week-long International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE) and Thomas W. Smith Foundation sponsored workshop on experimental economics for high school students. Taught by Andrew Smyth, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at the Economic Science Institute and soon to be Assistant Professor of Economics at Marquette University.Workshop Participants working together outside

Many of the students were from Southern California, while some traveled from as far as Washington, D.C. to attend the workshop. It is a rigorous academic experience as well as a great opportunity for high school students to meet other students with the same interest in economic experiments and behavioral economics.

This workshop does not assume any previous study in economics as many high school students might not have had the opportunity to study economics in their high schools. The objective of this workshop is to expose them to and get them interested in the foundations of economic analysis using experimental economics.

Students first participated in experiments and earned cash! Experiments were followed by a presentation and discussion of the results of the experiment. Students learned how to apply the scientific method to economic behavior and work with their peers to form solutions to specific economic problems. Topics covered in the program included game theory, auctions, prisoner’s dilemma, social dilemmas, public goods, trust and reciprocity.

students working together on floorOne student described the workshop structure and experimental approach to economics as “really cool and interesting.”  The student goes on to say, “It was nice to have the hands on experiments so we could start to understand the concepts and get a good grasp on it before going into the theoretical parts.”

Many of the students entered the week with no exposure to economics and after the completion of the workshop, students said they plan to study economics in the future!
Here is what some students had to say about the workshop:

  • “I would recommend this workshop to others because of the interactive component and the uniqueness of the program. I had never heard of a program like this one and I think it was a great investment of my time. It was so interesting to learn about the background behind the concepts we study in class and look at things from an economist’s perspective.”
  • Students working with Dr. Smyth“I thought the experimental approach to economics was practical and different. I had never thought of testing real-life theories in a controlled environment such as this one, but the experiments proved to be pretty accurate and the data very interesting. It taught me a lot about why the economic policies and concepts we study today were implemented and how human behavior translates to the economy’s behavior.”

For more information on conferences, graduate and high school level workshops, and the Summer Scholar program hosted at the Economic Science Institute, please visit the Economic Science Institute’s home page.

group of students smiling